Monday, March 19, 2012

Update from B'Tselem

Today I received the following e-mail from Jessica Montell, Executive Director of B'Tselem:

Dear Uri,

In fact, B'Tselem is not a sponsor of the J Street conference. This was a mistake in the e-mail and will be corrected later today. We are a participating organization, and are very glad to be part of a long list of Israeli and American groups participating in J Street and dedicated to pursuing a different and better reality for Palestinians and Israelis alike. This year we are proud to be organizing a distinguished panel addressing Israel's human rights record and the way the international community treats Israel when it comes to human rights issues - a question that is many times abused by the political debate, but rarely examined factually.

Aside from organizing this panel, B’Tselem was not involved with any other aspects of the conference, including the decision to feature former PM Olmert. B’Tselem has raised grave suspicions regarding serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law under the Olmert government, specifically regarding Operation Cast Lead in Gaza at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. These suspicions and responsibility for any violations have yet to be adequately investigated and addressed. If asked, we would not have advised featuring Olmert as a speaker. 

B’Tselem set up a US presence to promote human rights awareness and advocacy among US audiences. We are glad that J Street  offers the opportunity to engage with a broad and diverse spectrum of views. We are committed to ensuring that human rights are a central part of this conversation, especially within an atmosphere in the US where many times such voices are silenced.

Jessica Montell
Executive Director

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