Sunday, January 09, 2011

What is B'Tselem?

Because of a debate that I'm currently conducting with a commenter on the previous post, I thought it would be useful to provide some information about B'Tselem, one of the Israeli human rights groups that the Knesset wishes to investigate for its supposedly anti-Israel actions.

From the B'Tselem "About B'Tselem" page:
B'TSELEM - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories was established in 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. It endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel. 

B'Tselem in Hebrew literally means "in the image of," and is also used as a synonym for human dignity. The word is taken from Genesis 1:27 "And God created humans in his image. In the image of God did He create him." It is in this spirit that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights." 

As an Israeli human rights organization, B'Tselem acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories and ensure that its government, which rules the Occupied Territories, protects the human rights of residents there and complies with its obligations under international law.
B'Tselem is independent and is funded by contributions from foundations in Europe and North America that support human rights activity worldwide, and by private individuals in Israel and abroad.
List of donors to B'Tselem (from the B'Tselem funding page):

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Christian Aid (UK)

Commission of the European Communities

DanChurchAid (Denmark)

Diakonia (Sweden)

Development Coorporation Ireland (DCI)

EED (Germany)

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland

Ford Foundation (USA)

Foundation for Middle East Peace

ICCO (Netherlands)

International Commission of Jurists-Swedish Section

Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation

New Israel Fund (Israel)

Norwegian Foreign Ministry

Shefa Fund

SIVMO (Netherlands)

Stichting Het Solidaritetsfonds (Netherlands)

Trocaire (Ireland)

Members of the B'Tselem Board
Co-chairs: Oren Yiftachel, Professor of political geography and urban planning, Ben-Gurion University, and Gilad Barnea, Attorney, Administrative and Constitutional Law, appearing before the Supreme Court and other tribunals. [See a short Haaretz article about him: Tilting at Windmills and another from the Jerusalem Post - Can Israel Deny Muslim Prisoners Bread on Pessah?]

Orna Ben-Naftaly, Head of the Law and Culture Division and the International Law Division, the Law School, the College of Management Academic Studies

Rachel Benziman, Director, Financial Sustainability for Social Change, former executive director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel

Elias Khouri, Attorney in private practice who specializes in real-estate law and administrative law.

Vered Madar: Ph.D. Candidate, Jewish and comparative Folklore, Hebrew University

Michael Rivkine, a human-rights activist and political prisoner in the former Soviet Union, has continued his human-rights activity since immigrating to Israel 22 years ago.

Alla Shainskaya: Senior Staff Scientist, Weizmann Institute of Science

Yuval Shany, Professor, Hersch Lauterpacht Chair in Public International Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

David Zonsheine, CEO, Zooee Software
I don't have the energy right now to look up information about all the board members, but from what I've provided above, I believe it's sufficient to show that B'Tselem is an Israeli group, started by Israelis, in order to deal with human rights abuses committed by the Israeli government.  It is not a stealth project by enemies of Israel with the intention of destroying the state - instead its goal is hold Israel to the standards that it set for itself in the Declaration of Independence in 1948.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Above post by N. Friedman has been deleted - I'm not interested in reading the same argument over and over again. Create your own blog.