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Update from Al Haq: Today, I visited Al Haq in Ramallah and spoke with its executive director, Sha’wan Jabbarin. (Full disclosure: I was one of the founders of Al Haq and am still a member of its General Assembly.
As you may recall, Al Haq is one of the six human rights organizations recently declared by Israel to be terrorist organizations. This declaration was roundly condemned by many, including FOSNA (see our statement here: https://www.fosna.org/the-fosna-blog/statement).
I informed Sha’wan of steps we are taking to protest this designation and of the ongoing advocacy in the US on behalf of “The Six.” And, I asked him for an update on the situation.
Sha’wan is certain that the loud international outcry is the only reason Israel is slowing down its attack on Al Haq as well as the other fife. He believes that Israel has a list of over one hundred civil society organizations that it plans to eventually ban and declare as terrorist organizations, so long as there is not a determined international protest.
Sha’wan, picture by Jonathan Kuttab
Already some of the six are feeling the heavy hand of the state, with their funding drying out and at least one so far asked by the banks to close its accounts. Sha’wan is taking specific steps to deal with such an eventuality and has declared that he will continue the work of Al Haq, even if not paid, and even if the Israelis raid and close down their premises. Al Haq is in a better position than other organizations because it has a solid international reputation, having won more than 40 international prizes for its work. It has in the past successfully countered Israeli efforts to turn its donors against it and to urge others, particularly European countries, to stop funding them. Nonetheless, there are no guarantees, and Israel’s declaration continues to remain on the books.
Sha’wan asked me to thank all those who have spoken out against this designation and hopes we will keep up the pressure. He would like us to write to our elected representatives and the US State Department to demand that Israel either openly declare what “evidence” it has that a particular organization is involved in terrorism or to provide an open public procedure before “decapitating” an organization without due process by declaring it illegal and a terrorist organization. Sha’wan is convinced that a serious protest or challenge from the US as “a clear friend of Israel” would have great impact on Israel to cease its attack on the six and on other human rights and civil society organizations.
FOSNA has been cooperating with Rebuilding Alliance to meet with 90 elected officials, or their staff, on this issue. I myself have had nine briefings to congressional offices on this issue. FOSNA is also cooperating with PCAP in requesting a meeting with Hady Amer or Secretary Blinken on this issue. Al Haq and other organizations in Palestine are counting on us.