Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor and a professor at the Political Studies Department at Bar Ilan University, has emerged as the leading critic of the NGO assault on Israel. On March 14, he addressed the Middle East Forum in New York on the international community's growing attempts to demonize and isolate Israel.
Founded in 2002, NGO Monitor challenges the "halo effect" allowing unaccountable groups to push a misleading agenda with dangerous results for Israel and other nations. In order to support a process of "naming and shaming" against corrupt NGOs, NGO Monitor has devoted resources to following money trails and developing alliances with those squeezed out of the corrupt international system. In his talk, Mr. Steinberg focused on this corruption, wherein humanitarian aid is exploited in ways opposed to the ideals of the international system and its donors. Some of the key points he stressed follow:
- Frameworks founded on idealistic concepts have been corrupted, supporting a "parallel universe" in which the United States, NATO, and Israel are the principal human rights violators.
- Claims of civilian casualties in war—fabricated or exaggerated—have become an integral strategy in asymmetric warfare (especially in Afghanistan and Iraq).
- Using words such as "apartheid" and "racist," the 2001 Durban Conference created the blueprint for political war against Israel, imposing policies of isolation.
- Claims made by the various NGOs that make up the Durban Conference are never scrutinized for accuracy, especially in media sound bites that provide no context.
- These same NGOs have been relied upon as arbiters of international law during war, finding in the demonization of Israel a new raison d'etre after the end of the Cold War.
- Large cash flows keep NGOs functioning, much of it supplied with good intentions by donors or governments.
By way of a long-term strategy to combat this corruption, Mr. Steinberg said it is imperative to recapture the moral framework of human rights in its pristine form, thus ending the double-standard applied to countries such as Israel and the United States.
Though in the question-and-answer session, Mr. Steinberg stated that NGOs most likely are not coordinated in a global conspiracy, clear patterns of anti-Semitism consistently emerge from the same bloc of nations. By countering the prevalent anti-Israel and anti-Western bias, Mr. Steinberg hopes that humanitarian aid can be used to help those actually suffering from the effects of racism and discrimination.
Summary by MEF intern William Aquilino