The Rights Forum van Dries van Agt is geen objectieve organisatie, maar een pro-Palestina en anti-Israel lobbyclub die relatief veel impact heeft vanwege de statuur van Van Agt en andere leden als Hans van den broek. Zij baseert haar informatie op radikale Palestijnse organisaties zoals Al Haq en steunt de BDS beweging die een boycot van Israel bepleit.
THE RIGHTS FORUM
NGO MonitorJanuary 23, 2014
- The Rights Forum is a Dutch organization, established by former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt, which describes itself as a “knowledge center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and as a network of previous ministers and jurists that are committed to a solution of the conflict based on international law.”
- The Rights Forum claims that it was created in response to alleged “unwavering” Dutch support for alleged Israeli violations of international law and lobbies the Dutch government and the EU from a highly one-sided Palestinian political perspective.
- In reality, The Rights Forum attempts to undermine and supplant Dutch foreign policy relating to Israel. Comprised of former politicians and political appointees who can no longer be held accountable through democratic processes, The Rights Forum exploits its political influence and connections to manipulate Dutch and EU policy – often times in a manner that directly contradicts the policy objectives.
- Key personnel, such as van Agt and members of the board, maintain close connections to anti-Israel NGOs, including groups that support BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, deny the Jewish people’s connections to Israel, and support legal attacks (“lawfare”) against Israel.
The Rights Forum is active in influencing Dutch and EU policy in a number of ways:
1. Lobbying Government Officials
- Claims that “an important part of our work takes place in private, such as the many conversations we have with politicians.” Members of The Rights Forum have also presented in parliamentary hearings and sessions.
- For instance, in 2012, Martin Siepermann, director of The Rights Forum, participated in a parliamentary debate and discussed Dutch policy towards Israel, “Israel is never held accountable and never put under pressure to end its systematic and serious human rights violations or to substantially reduce it.”
- Similarly, in 2013, van Agt introduced a civil initiative in Parliament, “Demolish the Wall.” Van Agt claimed the Netherlands has an obligation to impose sanctions on Israel.
- The Rights Forum also sends briefings to the Dutch parliament alleging Israeli violations of human rights. In these briefings, The Rights Forum provides misleading and distorted information that primarily originates with Palestinian and Israeli political advocacy NGOs.
- In a briefing report “Human Rights Policy,” The Rights Forum relies on the claims of other biased political advocacy NGOs, such as Yesh Din, EWASH,Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), andPhysicians for Human Rights-Israel.
2. Monitoring and Reports
- According to its website: “We monitor the Dutch politics and reveal what positions politicians take regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…We also record violations of international law which the parties commit and report on these.”
- Many of The Rights Forum’s publications repeat the reports of radical Palestinian and Israeli NGOs such as Al Haq and Coalition of Women for Peace(CWP).
- The Rights Forum website also provides background information on issues such as “Palestinian water problems,” “Colonist Violence,” refugees, and Gaza. In explaining these topics, The Rights Forum provides misleading information that demonizes Israel and erases Palestinian agency:
- Refugees - “To complicate their return, Israeli forces destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages where refugees previously lived. Under international law, the Palestinian refugees and their descendants have the right to return. But Israel does not respect that law and prevents their return.”
- Water Problem - “The water issue in the Palestinian territories is very serious. The main cause is the Israeli occupation.”
- Gaza - “Israel controls the borders and airspace of the Gaza Strip, which is becoming increasingly isolated from the outside world…Therefore, Gaza is also referred to as the largest open-air prison in the world.”
- The organization refers to the BDS (boycott divestment and sanctions) campaign as the correct measure to target Israel: “Only with heavy economic and political pressure on Israel, also from Netherlands, will stir the Netanyahu government to strike its construction and expansion of settlements.” In 2012, The Rights Forum leaked an “internal EU report about settler violence,” which was intended to be confidential. This followed a decision by the Dutch government to place a “general reserve on this report,” preventing its publication by the EU. The Rights Forum was able to obtain and leak this document, obstructing Dutch foreign policy and EU protocol.
3. Fact-Finding Missions
- Members of The Rights Forum engage in fact-finding missions where they “deal with Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations to investigate, talk to political leaders and find victims of human rights violations.”
- On these missions, members meet with radical Israeli and Palestinian political advocacy NGOs and individuals that reinforce the preconceived political agenda. The Rights Forum has met with, Badil, Al Haq, Gisha, Breaking the Silence, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), Al-Mezan, GCMHP, OCHA, and UNRWA, as well as fringe political activists Avraham Burg and Michael Sfard.
- In May 2010, The Rights Forum undertook a fact-finding mission to Israel, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank:
- In a report detailing this trip, The Rights Forum delegation blames Israel for the lack of peace and their “continuing colonization” as “a major threat to the establishment of the two-state solution.” Israel’s behavior is “the main obstacle to a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
- In this report, The Rights Forum asserts that relations with Hamas must be normalized.
The Rights Forum Members
The Right’s Forum is comprised of many influential individuals who have publicly affirmed their position against Israel. The members use their influence in political warfare campaigns against Israel.
- Dries van Agt (Founder), known as the “Dutch Jimmy Carter,” is a former Dutch Prime Minister with a pronounced bias against Israel.
John Dugard (Advisory Board Member) has spearheaded many initiatives singling out Israel.
- In 2009, he was responsible for a report funded by the South African government claiming to prove that Israel is an “apartheid” and “colonial” state. The report advocated the imposition of sanctions on Israel and called for another ICJ advisory opinion to find that Israel was engaging in the crimes of apartheid and colonialism.
- He also was involved in organizing the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a pseudo-court that aimed to put Israel and its allies on “trial.”
- As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, he was criticized for promoting a so-called “right of resistance.”
- He has also accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinians and has denied Israel’s right to engage in self-defense against Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians.
Hans van den Broek (Advisory Board Member) – former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and former EU commissioner for Foreign Relations.
- Hans Van Den Broek was involved in organizing the NGO report “Trading Away Peace,” which called for economic sanctions against Israel and other forms of political warfare.
- The report opens with an introduction by van den Broek, stating that the “decisive” factor for the stagnation in the peace process is “Israel’s incessant settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
- Van den Broek acted as one out of four consultants on a report “Between Words and Deeds: Prospects for a sustainable peace in the Middle East,” prepared by the AIV, a Dutch independent Advisory Council of International Affairs. (See below for more information).
- Van den Broek is also a member of the European Eminent Persons Group on the Middle East Peace Process, a group of former Foreign Ministers and EU ministers. This group exploits its members’ prominence to lobby EU officials. For instance, in 2012 this group addressed Catherine Ashton in a public letter stating: “We are […] appealing to you, and through you to the members of the Council of Ministers, to recognize that the Peace Process as conceived in the Oslo Agreements has nothing more to offer. It is time to give a stark warning that the Occupation is actually being entrenched by the present Western policy.”
The Rights Forum and the AIV (Advisory Council of International Affairs)
- The Dutch Advisory Council of International affairs is “an independent body which advises government and parliament on foreign policy, particularly on issues relating to human rights, peace and security, development cooperationand European integration.” Despite its stated independence, the Council is housed in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs building.
- Many members of the Rights Forum are also part of the AIV Council. Given the Rights Forum’s open anti-Israel agenda, this is a conflict of interest and violates the AIV’s position as an independent body.
- An AIV report on the peace process, released in 2013, reflected a myopic focus on Israeli settlements to the exclusion of nearly all other issues in the conflict, notably Palestinian terrorism and security concerns. Significant focus was directed towards the highly controversial 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion on Israel’s security barrier.
- Many Dutch officials took note of the report’s bias against Israel and criticized the AIV Council for not acting impartial.
Members of the Rights Forum have also been involved in prosecuting Dutch companies for their involvement in settlements.
- In 2010, attorney and board member of The Rights Forum, Liesbeth Zegveld, filed a criminal complaint against the Dutch corporation Riwal. The lawsuit, alleging that “Riwal, was complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity through its construction of the Annexation Wall, ‘the Wall,’ and illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank,” was brought on behalf of the radical anti-Israel NGO Al Haq.
- In 2012, Een Ander Joods Geluid, (A Different Jewish Voice), which is led by Jaap Hamburger, member of the management board of The Rights Forum, provided fact files regarding the participation of Veolia Group in the public transport tender in The Hague, aimed at preventing Veolia’s subsidiaries from obtaining tenders in the Netherlands. It also asked a Dutch lawyer to provide a legal opinion on this matter.
The Rights Forum and its NGO network
Further illustrating The Right Forum’s network with anti-Israel NGOs, members of the Forum can be directly linked to Dutch, Israeli, and Palestinian groups that also engage in biased political campaigning.
- Member Mouin Rabbani used to work for the Palestinian NGO Al Haq.
- Director Martin Siepermann previously worked as Middle East project officer at ICCO.
- Board member Jan Pronk was the previous Chairman of IKV (The Interchurch Peace Summit), now known as IKV Pax Christi. Pronk was a guestspeaker at the “Hour of Truth,” a conference aimed at promoting the Kairos Palestine document.
- In addition, many board members have spoken at conferences and gatherings organized by radical organizations, including Sabeel.
Sabeel – Sabeel is a very active in the effort to convince Christian churches to support the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Sabeelsupports a “one state,” framework, meaning the end of Israel as a Jewish state, and employs antisemitic themesand imagery in its political attacks against Israel.
Al Haq – Leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS(boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaigns. Al Haq regularly files lawsuits and submits politically motivated reports to the UN Human Rights Council and other international bodies in an effort to demonize Israel.
ICCO – Claims to work “on sustainable answers and solutions to combat poverty and social injustice in the world.” ICCO pursues a highly prejudicial approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict and uses government funds tosupport groups and projects that are active in BDS campaigns.
Kairos Paletine Document – The Kairos Palestine Document was drafted in 2009 by a group of thirteen Palestinian Christian clergy. It calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the continuation of the conflict. Its purpose is to rally churches globally to support BDS, delegitimization, and demonization directed at the State of Israel.