Designation is part orchestrated Israeli campaign to eviscerate Palestinian civil society
(Ramallah, Palestine, April 26, 2022) — Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) renewed its call on the United States to reject Israel's arbitrary designation of six Palestinian human rights organizations as "terrorist," following a meeting with the leaders of some of the six groups in Ramallah. In the meetings, the groups described Israel's ongoing persecution, illegal surveilance, and criminalization of Palestinian human rights activists and civil society.
DAWN also urged U.S. officials to meet with the six designated groups to learn more about these targeted Israeli attacks against Palestinian civil society.
"Six months since Israel's politicized designation of leading civil society groups as 'terrorist', Israel has not offered a shred of evidence to support its deliberate slander of these groups, and not one goverment in the world has supported Israel's findings," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN. "The Biden Administration's silence in this matter is not enough; it should categorically reject Israel's shameful designation of these brave and essential Palestinian human rights organizations and meet with the groups directly."
According to numerous reports, Israel has not provided any credible evidence of terrorist affiliations or terrorist activity relating to the six Palestinian groups, and its dossiers on the designations have not convinced any of the foreign governments it has briefed.
"The international community should refuse to allow Israel to abuse anti-terrorism legislation to stifle opposition to its apartheid regime," said Director of Research for Israel-Palestine, Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. "Wringing our hands about the destruction of civil society around the world means nothing if our elected officials stand by and do nothing to support targeted groups."
Days before Israel announced its designations, Frontline Defenders revealed that members of the Palestinian organizations' smart phones had been infected by Pegasus spyware technology manufactured by NSO Group, an Israeli company. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently blacklisted NSO Group, adding the company to its Entity List, based on evidence that its spyware has "enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent," and concluding that "[s]uch practices threaten the rules-based international order."
Israel's designation of these groups also came after many of them made submissions to the International Criminal Court regarding alleged Israeli crimes.
DAWN met with the leadership of Al Haq, Addameer, Al Bisan, and Defense for Children International-Palestine, and will continue to actively support the six designated groups and help to ensure their work continues.
DAWN also met with civil society groups, journalists, and think tanks in Israel and Palestine. During these meetings, DAWN sought input from local organizations regarding the accountability and pro-democracy work within its Israel-Palestine program.
The program, launched in January 2022, aims to reform U.S. foreign policy that enables Israeli abuses through U.S. military aid and political support. The program also aims to expose Israeli culprits and American lobbyists who contribute to and enable Israeli abuses, and, together with local organizations and civil society leaders, formulate a new blueprint for democracy, equality, justice, and freedom for all peoples living under Israeli sovereignty and control.
DAWN also met with U.S. diplomats in Tel Aviv to discuss Israel's human rights record, U.S. human rights reporting and Leahy Law vetting processes, and rolling back Trump-era policies that have emboldened Israeli violations of international law.