Israel Designates Six Organizations as Terrorist Groups
6 Terrorist Organizations by Israel

Jewish Voices Respond to Protect Human Rights

Israel has declared six Palestinian organizations as terrorist groups.  The groups include civil society associations, human rights institutions, and unions operating in the West Bank.

Some religious leaders, politicians, and nonprofits question these choices. These dissenting voices are comprised of Israeli newspapers, Jewish organizations, elected American officials, and religious leaders. Human rights organizations, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, also oppose the decision.

What do these Palestinian groups actually do, and should they be labeled “terrorists”? Read on to find out and decide for yourself.


Who Are these “Terrorist” Organizations?

In an order signed by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, these six Palestinian organizations were labelled as terrorist groups.

Addameer Association and Al-Haq Organization describe themselves as groups committed to human rights. The group Defense of Children – Palestine is a local chapter of an international organization that advocates for children’s rights. The Bisan Center for Research and Development is a nonprofit dedicated to socio-economic rights.

Both “unions” listed were founded in the 1980s to advocate for workers in different sectors. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees is volunteer-run organization that implements programs and community activities. On the other hand, the Palestinian Women Committees Society focuses on empowering women and ending gender discrimination.

What Does the Designation Mean?

So how does being designated a terrorist group affect these organizations and their functioning? According to Amnesty International, the designation essentially outlaws the activities of these civil and human rights groups. Meaning, they cannot carry out their day-to-day operations.

Human Rights Watch states that these orders also authorize Israeli authorities to close the groups offices, seize their assets, and arrest or jail their staff members. Further, it prohibits Israeli and Palestinian people from funding these groups or even publicly expressing support for their activities. This severely restricts the group’s ability to fundraise.


The Global and Jewish Community Respond

Israel’s government declared these groups terrorist organizations by claiming that they are “operating under the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” However, Jewish newspaper Haaretz calls this reasoning a “folly” that “tarnishes” the Israeli state. Writer Jonathan Pollak condemns the decision as he considers the listed groups as some of the most “prominent human rights organizations” in Palestine.

Even transnational groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were shocked by the statement from Israel, calling the decision “an alarming escalation.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “unequivocally condemned” the move by Israel and its officials. As did the United Nations mission in Palestine. Meanwhile, Palestinian people and organizations are calling on other international bodies, like the U.N. Security Council, to also condemn these designations.

J Street

J Street, an American Jewish organization that advocates for democracy and peace between Israel and Palestine, expressed “deep concern” over these designations. The organization believes that these Palestinian civil society groups should not be labeled as “terrorists.” J Street views Israel’s actions as “totally inconsistent with democratic values.” They call for an end to the “deeply repressive” and “authoritarian, illiberal regimes” of the Israeli government.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization dedicated to “freedom, justice, equality, and dignity” for all people, has also made statements regarding Israel’s decision.  JVP calls for Jewish members of Congress to speak out against Israel’s choice to designate these important civil groups as terrorist.

These prominent Jewish organizations join a chorus of Jewish voices calling for peace and justice.


Political and Religious Leaders Respond

A few prominent community members have also made statements about Israel’s choice to name these organizations as terrorists. Aligning with international groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, U.S. politicians and religious leaders have made their voices heard.

 U.S. Representative Betty McCollum

U.S. Representative Betty McCollum is an American congresswoman with a strong history of advocating for human rights. She responded to the designation of Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations.

In the statement, she condemned the choice to “shut down legitimate civil society organizations advocating for Palestinian human rights.” McCollum urged Biden’s administration to step in. She asked that he “immediately call upon the Israeli government to reverse their decision and restore these organizations’ ability to continue their important work.”

Representative McCollum referenced her previous work with Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP). She stood behind their work to protect Palestinian children and advance human rights as well as Amnesty International’s statements.

Rep. McCollum is one of many U.S. politicians to speak out on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Reverend J. Mark Davison

Reverend J. Mark Davison is a retired pastor, Executive Director of Voices for Justice in Palestine, and a staunch advocate for solidarity between Jews and Christians. Davison reflected on his work with the founders of Al-Haq, which he regards as a reputable organization working for Human Rights in the West Bank. He believes that all six groups do important work and the designation as terrorists is a slanderous one.

More recently, Davison has also made statements about Israel’s 2023 assault on the Gaza strip. He also urged President Biden to call for an immediate ceasefire.


What Do These Groups Really Do?

If these groups are really supporting terrorist organizations, Why would so many people advocate to protect them? For example, the Addameer Association, whose name is the Arabic word for “conscience,” was described as a prominent organization doing essential work. Additionally, Al-Haq Organization was described as “undoubtedly the single most important Palestinian human rights organization” by Jonathan Pollak.

Why Ban These Groups?

An editorial published by Haaretz claims that Israel’s decision to designate these Palestinian organizations as terrorist groups amounts to the “outlawing of human rights groups” in the West Bank. The authors state that this serves as the “persecution of humanitarian activists,” who are merely trying to help Palestinian people meet their basic needs.

The editorial team goes on to say that this tactic of attacking Palestinian human rights organizations is a “quintessential characteristic” of oppressive governments and military regimes. They imply that “democracy” in Israel was a “dead letter” if the government continued down this path.

Silencing Palestinian Rights

International organizations agree, including the U.N. mission that released a statement soon after Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared the new status of the groups. In their appeals, the U.N. called Gantz’s announcement an “attempt to intimidate and forcibly silence” those that reveal the hardships of Palestinian people.

Additionally, Rep. McCollum stated, this terrorist label is “an attempt to silence supporters of Palestinian rights.” He claimed the announcement and stance was anti-democratic and not aligned with the values of justice.

Human Rights for All

All six organizations listed as terrorist groups work to support marginalized Palestinians, including women, children, and those experiencing economic hardship. By proxy, they reveal the ways in which Israel’s occupation impacts Palestinian people’s access to basic needs and infringes on their human rights.

Should they be silenced and shut down?

Or should Israel respect Palestinian communities and their right to live with their basic needs met?

Learn more how you can support Palestinian rights. Consider hosting an exhibit!

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