Israel media has published an Op-ed piece called “The case against the Palestinian Return Centre in London” based on a Spinwatch report authored by US academic Sarah Marusek and UK academic David Miller. The authors make two main points in the piece regarding criticisms of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) (highlighted in bold italic):
July 20, 2105 During this week’s meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) member states at the United Nations, Israel will likely call a vote against granting the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a London-based NGO, special consultative status
ECOSOC’s Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations had voted to approve the PRC’s application on June 1, but the Israeli government continues to allege that the PRC is affiliated with Hamas, which is why it banned the NGO in 2010.
The day the committee approved the PRC’s status, Israel’s mission to the UN tweeted that “a new low was reached today at the UNHQ in New York—the #UN adopts an organization associated with Hamas.” Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor added that the UN “gave #Hamas a welcoming celebration at its main entrance, allowing it to be a full participant.”
We were commissioned by the PRC as independent researchers with Public Interest Investigations to examine the campaign against the NGO at the UN and have published a short report on our findings. Two main points particularly stand out.
First, that the allegations against the PRC are not evidentially supported in any of the published materials that are most frequently referenced. The oft-cited report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which has connections to Israeli intelligence, is not based on primary sources and relies on hearsay.
The authors of the report admit that “in the PRC’s many publications it is hard to find reliable information about its structure, activists, sources of funding and connections with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Nevertheless, they argue that “even if it cannot be proved,” their assessment is that the PRC has indeed received funding from foundations connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas.
The authors of the Meir Amit report also admit that they are offering “large amounts of circumstantial evidence” to argue their case. But since the center has connections with Israeli intelligence, why not provide concrete evidence that nails it?
In order to damage the PRC in Europe, these allegations need to be proven both publicly and convincingly. Israel is a sovereign state and could prosecute the PRC if it has violated Israeli laws; but the PRC does not even operate in Israel. And thus far, the PRC has not been charged with breaking any UK or European laws.
The second point is that the groups involved in spreading these allegations against the PRC are not, in fact, disparate and unrelated to each other. They include NGOs and think tanks that share American funders and connections to the Israeli government.Read the rest here.
Regarding the first point, that “the allegations against the PRC are not evidentially supported” and that the Meir Amit Center report “is not based on primary sources and relies on hearsay”, the GMBDW will only note that we wish that report was better sourced but disagree completely that the allegations are not supported by evidence and will let readers decide for themselves if the 87 page report on can be so easily dismissed. What is clear is that the Spinwatch report that was the basis of the article conspicuously chose to ignore the many very real links between the PRC and Hamas as well as the Global Muslim Brotherhood that are identified in our GMBDW Wiki entry on the organization.
Perhaps even more egregious is the charge that the groups said to be “involved in spreading these allegations against the PRC” have connections to the Israeli government, inferring that therefore what has been said about the PRC links must therefore be untrue. While we have already noted that these links are very real, a perhaps more important issue relates to the claim by the Spinwatch report authors, trying to distinguish themselves from the organizations they criticize, “We were commissioned by the PRC as independent researchers.” Independent? Really?
The Spinwatch report identifies lead author Sarah Marusek only as a PhD in social science from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a freelance researcher and writer for Public Interest Investigations but in reality, Ms. Marusek is an activist with a long history of involvement with radical Palestinian causes who denies Israel’s very right to exist. As she said in a 2013 interview for Islam Times:
I think the Jewish state of Israel is inherently not legitimate, because it is founded on land that was shared among Muslims, Christians and Jews. The state of Israel violently imposed itself on this land and these peoples – Palestine, an already existing reality that has not gone away and which will never go away. Indeed Palestinians will always resist against the Jewish State of Israel because it is a racist apartheid state, and it is against international law. One day this land will return to a place where Muslims, Christians and Jews can all live together in equality and harmony.
In June 2013, the electronicintifada.net website identified Sarah Marusek as:
…a Global March to Jerusalem international committee member and spokesperson from Brooklyn, New York, who also arrived in Gaza with Miles of Smiles 2.
while a site that monitored the Global March further identified her as the US delegate to the GMJ (her last updates to her personal blog consist of a statement from the GMJ-International Executive Committee). As we reported in 2012, the GMJ, which turned out to be an abject failure, was organized in Europe by a committee comprised of members of UK Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Free Gaza movement. As we have also long reported, the Miles of Smiles convoys are closely tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Other information about Ms. Marusek is reported by the GMJ monitoring site:
Currently living in Lebanon, (and having previously lived in Iran) Marusek is a board member of the ‘Palestine Civil Rights Campaign – Lebanon’ and active with the ‘Right to Return Committee in Lebanon‘. According to the GMJ website, she also works with ‘Viva Palestina Arabia’, which of course is the organizer of the ‘Summer University of Palestine’ held annually in Lebanon. Marusek also appears to have connections with the [International Solidarity Movement] having issued a press release on its behalf together with Amith Gupta who runs the Bard College (NY) branch of the ISM and is also involved with the North American chapter of GMJ.
Additionally, the Spinwatch report delves into great detail on the funding of the organizations critical of the PRC but never manages to mention that there is no public disclosure of the PRC’s finances which the GMBDW believes would definitively settle the question of the organization’s ties. The report also neglects to mention Spinwatch’s own ties as listed on the their own website and which include six separate grants from three organizations identified by the GMBDW as part of the Global Muslim Brotherhood:
- Middle East Monitor (led by Daud Abdullah, former deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and a senior PRC researcher for Palestinian issues, Sarah Marusek has written extensively for the Midle East Monitor)
Given these connections of Sarah Marusek and Spinwatch to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and to organizations supporting Hamas, their charges of bias and lack of transparency can best be described as a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.
For a profile on the Palestinian Return Centre, go here.
For the full Spinwatch report, go here.