Why did so many assume B’Tselem fire was arson?

January 13, 2016

Further to my post about the pressure under which human rights defenders in Israel have to work [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/michael-sfardjan-israels-human…] this post by Chelsey Berlin (B’Tselem USA) “The blaze at B’Tselem’s Jerusalem office was an accident, but many of us assumed it was arson”  is telling:

In “Why Did We Assume B’Tselem Fire Was Arson?” she explains the context:  …..”For months, the message that human rights defenders are the problem in Israel has been repeatedly delivered with sledgehammer strength: In Tirtzu’s video labeling four human rights activists, including B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, “moles”; the government’s ongoing legislative crusade against organizations receiving foreign government funding, and last Thursday’s sensationalized report on an Israeli TV news program that aired false accusations against a B’Tselem field researcher. All this is done to hide the dire situation they expose, the real evil, which is the occupation, the human rights violations it produces in the occupied Palestinian territories and the fascism increasingly required of Israel to maintain it.“….

(When news broke on 10 January 2015 of a fire at B’Tselem’s Jerusalem office most feared the worst: arson. Since then, the smoke has cleared — literally — and a preliminary investigation has been concluded. The Jerusalem fire brigade has announced that the cause of the fire was likely an electrical fault.)

Source: Why Did We Assume B’Tselem Fire Was Arson? – Opinion – Forward.com

One Response to “Why did so many assume B’Tselem fire was arson?”


  1. […] The Israeli occupation authorities have denied a work permit for the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel and Palestinian territories, they said on Friday 24 February 2017. Israel accused the organisation of “engaging in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights’.” In response, HRW said that this comes as the Israelis seek to limit the space for local and international human rights groups to operate in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “This decision and the spurious rationale should worry anyone concerned about Israel’s commitment to basic democratic values,” commented Deputy Executive Director of Programmes at HRW, Lain Levine. “It is disappointing that the Israeli government seems unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticisms of its actions and hostile political propaganda.”  The next day sixteen NGOs working in Israel issued a statement deploring the decision not to allow Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch (HRW). “We stand in solidarity with him and our colleagues at HRW.”  “Neither closing Israel’s borders to human rights organizations and activists nor other measures by the Israeli government against organizations that criticize the occupation will deter us from continuing to report human rights violations in the territories controlled by Israel. Attempts to silence the messenger will not suppress our message,” concluded the NGOs that include: Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Akevot, Amnesty International Israel, Bimkom, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Coalition of Women for Peace, Emek Shaveh, Gisha, Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, Haqel-Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights, Human Rights Defenders Fund, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Yesh Din. Noting that the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a law last July that targeted human rights groups and imposed onerous reporting requirements which burden their advocacy, HRW suggested that the permit denial comes amid increasing pressure on human rights defenders operating in Israel and Palestine. “Israeli officials have directly accused Israeli advocacy groups of ‘slander’ and discrediting the state or army.” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/13/why-did-so-many-assume-btselem-fire-was-arson/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/05/michael-sfardjan-israels-human-rights-activists-arent-traitors/] Moreover, Palestinian rights defenders have received anonymous death threats and have been subject to travel restrictions and even arrests and criminal charges.[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/21/palestinian-human-rights-defenders-continue-to-be-persecuted/]. Front Line Defenders reported on 25 January 2017 that Israeli occupation forces arrested human rights defenders Ms Lema Nazeeh and Mr Mohammed Khatib – along with four other peaceful protesters –  near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israeli forces then went on to ill-treat Lema Nazeeh throughout her four days in detention at Al-Maskubiyyah prison in Jerusalem. On 23 January 2017, Israeli occupation forces also arrested human rights defender Mr Abdallah Abu Rahma as he attended the court hearing of the two aforementioned defenders. Lema Nazeeh and Mohammed Khatib were arrested while participating in a peaceful protest against illegal settlement construction in Bab Al-Shams in East Jerusalem, otherwise known as the E1 area/settlement bloc. The protest was also against US President Donald Trump’s suggested plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Three days after the protest, Abdallah Abu Rahma was arrested on suspicion that he had also taken part in the peaceful protest. All human rights defenders were released on bail, pending trial. (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/lema-nazeeh; https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-mohammed-khatib and https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/abdallah-abu-rahma) […]


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