In a clear distortion of information, the once prestigious Freedom House, a not-for-profit organization that purports to monitor which societies in the world are truly free, appears deliberately to have omitted and misrepresented easily verifiable information in what can only be seen as an attempt to downgrade Israel from "free" to "partly free." This self-appointed, proclaimed monitor of freedom, itself only partly-free, not only cites Arab and radical propaganda taken as fact, with no checking, off the internet, to declare Israel as less free, but condemns it for protecting itself from daily bombardments of the terrorist organization, Hamas. Last week, in 24 hours alone, over 80 rockets were fired on a city in Israel's south, "Can you imagine, one writer asks," if even one rocket were fired on Washington, London, Paris or Moscow?"
While on the surface that might not seem a calamity, these falsehoods follow a pattern -- as with Human Rights Watch [see www.NGO-Monitor.org for details] or the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) -- maliciously and recklessly to distort the situation of human rights in the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular, apparently for no other purpose than to defame the only democracy in the Middle East, one which is daily threatened with eradication.
The ISM operates as a human shield for terrorist groups; it works cooperatively with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP. The Palestinians have found a formula of deception to put a good face on their terrorism sponsors' irredentist movement. They now claim they represent humanitarianism and freedom when in reality they promote the takeover goals of totalitarianism, arresting journalists wholesale and inciting violence from government-controlled media. A vast number of websites -- some have even crept into the classrooms of American colleges -- now claim to have valid research and have reversed the facts behind just who represents genuine freedom, and who is seeking the destruction of a free and democratic state, Israel, to install a new totalitarian one in its place.
Among its many reports which explain the downgrade of certain states' freedom rankings, the one about Israel not only distorts history but even reverses facts, when describing who has rights to pray on the Temple Mount.
According to the report, "Citing security concerns, Israel occasionally restricts Muslim worshippers' access to the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem. In October 2011, Jewish extremists burned and vandalized a mosque in the northern village of Tuba-Zangariya, leading to protests by hundreds of residents and minor clashes with police."
The report makes no mention that Israel gave complete administrative control of the Temple Mount, the Jews' holiest shrine, to the Waqf, the Muslim religious administration, in 1967. The Waqf does not allow any Jewish praying on the Mount, even arresting Jews who dare to move their lips or even close their eyes, for fear they might be praying. The Waqf also relies on the Israeli police, many of whom are Arabs and not Jews, to enforce this edict. Muslims are not restricted from praying on the Mount, except on high Muslim holidays, when the police -- after they had determined that younger males are more inclined to violence -- sometimes admit males only over the age of 40 to prevent riots and attacks on the police. In any event, as on many earlier occasions, when Arab worshippers have attacked the police, the number of worshippers admitted on Muslim high holidays days would be restricted for normal crowd control.
For Freedom House to try and suggest that Jews are keeping Muslims from praying on the Temple Mount is disingenuous, if not libelous, and reveals at best a substandard level of competence.
As for the mosque burning incident, this was not a government-sponsored crime, but conducted by individuals who are being sought by the Israeli police for arrest and prosecution; yet Freedom House would have its readers believe this was a government-sanctioned attack. Prosecutors in Israel prosecute any Jews who attack or deface Muslim shrines and Jews go to jail. This is tantamount to falsely suggesting Klansmen who burned black churches in the Jim Crow South were carrying out US government functions.
Similar distortions also abound in the Freedom House report on educational matters. Two paragraphs in particular are disturbing; they state,
Legislation passed in March 2011 requires the state to fine or withdraw funds from local authorities and other state-funded groups that hold events marking Al-Nakba on Israeli independence day; that support armed resistance or "racism" against Israel; or that desecrate the state flag or national symbols. Both Arab rights and freedom of expression groups criticized the law as an unnecessary and provocative restriction.
In July, the Knesset passed the so-called Boycott Law, which exposes Israeli individuals and groups to civil lawsuits if they advocate an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of the State of Israel or West Bank settlements, even without clear proof of financial damage. Petitions filed against the law were pending at year's end.
The article does not explain that Al-Nakba in Arabic refers to the founding of Israel as a "catastrophe" for the Arabs living in Israel. The "Arab rights" and "freedom of expression groups" (unnamed) which opposed the new law all advocate the destruction and replacement of the Jewish state by an Arab-dominated one which would not have religious or gender-based freedom, the same as other Arab states in the region. The boycott of Israel is even opposed by the Palestinian Authority government-in-the-making; it is a continuation of the Arab League's unending declared financial war on Israel, a war that began in 1922. Israel does not prohibit individuals from making such statements advocating destruction of the Jewish state, only the lawsuit rights of victims who pay Israeli taxpayer money to pay for it as a function of government.
The website IsraCampus has demonstrated repeatedly that Israel's academic institutions have been turned into a breeding ground of subversives who openly call for the dismantling of the Jewish state. Israel's top educational authority recently called in a board of inquiry of world renowned education experts to determine if the Political Science Department at Ben Gurion University was living up to academic standards. The nonpartisan committee determined that the department was little more than a place to recruit activists who call for the end of the Jewish state -- and that the department had no redeeming academic standards. But Freedom House would have readers believe this to be an erosion of freedom. How Freedom House could consider it a "violation of freedom" for the Israeli government to refuse to fund with taxpayer money groups on campus that "support armed resistance," better known as terrorism, is unfathomable. It has never, for example, objected to the US prohibiting funds being sent to Al Qaeda.
While Freedom House places the US as the most free country in the world, it knows the US would never allow Soviet propaganda courses to be taught in US schools during the height of the Cold War at taxpayer expense, yet faults Israel for trying to control a fifth column that is well-financed by Arab oil money and even the EU.
The Freedom House report could best be described a "lying by omission" to its readers. This is a clever way of not telling direct lies, but of leaving out just enough information to convey a false impression. The report even condemns Israel for restricting pro-Arab press reporters during the war in Gaza, when these are the same false sources for information on which Freedom House relies. The Goldstone Report, later retracted by Goldstone himself as full of falsehoods, is a perfect example of this.
Such intentional omissions can be found even in the report's "history" of the region that states,
Israel was formed in 1948 from part of the British-ruled mandate of Palestine, which had been created by the League of Nations following World War I. A 1947 UN partition plan dividing Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab, was rejected by the Arab Higher Committee and the Arab League, and Israel's 1948 declaration of independence led to war with a coalition of Arab countries. While Israel maintained its sovereignty and expanded its borders, Jordan (then known as Transjordan) seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip.
It is curious how the above paragraph, ostensibly true, was worded. While it mentions the Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan, it does not mention at all that Israel accepted the Plan (although it gave Israel far less land, mostly desert, than the original mandate) and it blames the Jews' declaration of independence as the cause of the war rather than the five Arab countries invading Israel on the day of its birth to try to kill the new nation before it could even begin. No place is it mentioned that these armies attacked the new Jewish state first, costing the lives of 6,000 Jews. And no place does it mention that to this day, both the PLO and Hamas charters call for the obliteration of Israel in a language filled with religious and ethnic fanaticism against Jews. Jewish communities in the West Bank and Gaza were wiped out in 1948, including in the walled old city of Jerusalem, which was seized by Jordan, and were retaken by Israel only in 1967. Freedom House fails to mention that Transjordan was supposed to be part of Israel but was gifted by the British to the Hashemite dynasty to settle a feud with the Saudis. Although Israel slightly expanded its borders, it also lost territory in that war, notably in Gaza and the West Bank.
Further distortions include the reversal of the situation with religious shrines inside Israel and in the Palestinian Authority (not Israel proper, and subject to final peace negotiations between the parties). The Report states that Israel does not protect access to Muslim shrines when the reverse is true: it fails to mention, for example, that the Old Testament's Joseph's Tomb in Shechem/Nablus was attacked, turned into a green canopied mosque, and that its rabbi literally torn to shreds, its Torah burned, and that an Arab Druze IDF soldier bled to death when Arab rioters prevented emergency medical personnel from reaching him during further Arab riots, before the Jewish shrine was completely overrun. Only recently, an Orthodox Jew caught praying at Joseph's Tomb was shot and killed by a Palestinian policeman.
For Freedom House to downgrade Israel as "less free," given the reality on the ground, one has to wonder at the non-profit's objectivity and research capabilities. Was such "lying by omission" simply errors due to sloppy research on the Internet that relied on Palestinian and ISM propaganda websites? Or was it possibly the result of donations from Arab or Muslim special interest groups? Repeated attempts to contact Freedom House about these discrepancies were ignored.
This is not the first time Freedom House has collided with the truth. In 2006, a member of its Board of Trustees, ironically the current president of the Gatestone Institute, resigned over a vote by the Board that would require every report, before being released, to be approved by all members of the Board of Trustees – a form of censorship. The decision was occasioned by a report, "Update: Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance," written by Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom (then a semi-autonomous a branch of Freedom House, but which also, after the vote, parted company with the organization). Shea's report was written at the request of Muslims in America who had brought her copies of the official Saudi Textbooks in Islamic schools in America. They claimed they were concerned about the hatred and violence toward people of other religions that was being promoted in these textbooks, and wanted it exposed. After the report was released, however, a member of the Board at the time, Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc., was apparently approached by Dr. Faroque Khan, a founding member of the Mosque and Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury, New York. Khan seems to have determined that Shea's report did not reflect favorably on the Muslim community and therefore, unlike the Muslims who had originally approached Shea, instead approached Kathwari to see if Shea's report could be suppressed. The Board evidently agreed with Dr. Khan.
Sadly, the integrity of a once-venerable organization, which claims to promote freedom throughout the world, is now more than suspect, as the supposed guardians of freedom work overtime to empower totalitarian movements and regimes.