20 June 2017
Although only one minute out of the 90 in the documentary “Auserwählt und ausgegrenzt – Der Hass auf Juden in Europa” is devoted to B’Tselem, that one minute is so packed with lies that we feel compelled to respond and reject these falsehoods. First of all, the dedication to human rights by many B’Tselem staffers and supporters is bound up in their having relatives who survived – or perished in - the Holocaust. To impart false information (easily disproved by a quick Google search) and not follow the fundamental journalistic practice of asking B’Tselem to respond to such severe - albeit untrue - accusations seriously calls into question the filmmakers’ professionalism and motives.
The film, therefore, must be understood in context. Israel’s desire to endlessly perpetuate the occupation has led over the past decade to increasing attacks against groups and individuals in Israeli civil society who oppose it. These attacks employ smear tactics and manufacture imagined “traitors” from within, endeavoring to advance a nationalistic political agenda and to delegitimize human rights organizations by false portrayals. The charges made in the film, along with the misrepresentation of B’Tselem as a “political advocacy organization”, rather than as a Human Rights organization, are based entirely on such propaganda efforts by Israeli government affiliated pro-occupation organizations.
B’Tselem has never accused Israel of using Nazi methods. This is a despicable and slanderous lie, which even the film’s creators could not back up with any evidence. Moreover, the interview by Tuvia Tenenbom is presented in such a way as to keep viewers in the dark about the fact that the three year old entrapment effort has long been resolved. Nowhere does the film state that B’Tselem immediately and categorically condemned the sentiments expressed, or that B’Tselem terminated the employment of the field researcher in question back in October 2014, following the incident. At best, this is sloppy, unethical journalism; at worst, a deliberate omission of relevant information designed to mislead viewers.
B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories opposes the Israeli occupation which has been denying basic rights to millions of Palestinians for more than fifty years. The work of human rights organizations such as B’Tselem is deeply grounded in principles formulated following the horrors of the Holocaust and WWII. Conflating our work with antisemitism is as outrageous as it is dangerous: it undermines the very real threat of antisemitism and other forms of racism, and it cannot be tolerated.