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November 15, 2017 2:59 pm

Democratic Congresswoman Accused of ‘Exploiting’ Palestinian Children With Proposed Anti-Israel Legislation

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Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota. Photo: File.

A Minnesota congresswoman has been accused of “exploiting Palestinian children” in order to demonize Israel after she introduced legislation this week to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.”

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum introduced the “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act” on Tuesday with the backing of nine other congressional Democrats.

“This legislation highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations,” McCollum said in a statement. “Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children.”

“Congress must not turn a blind eye to the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation,” she continued. Arguably the most vocal of Israel’s critics in the House, McCollum has previously insisted that Israel commits “systematic human rights abuses…including the physical and psychological abuse of Palestinian children held in military detention.”

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But Israeli research organization NGO Monitor countered that McCollum was using the cause of Palestinian children to advance a range of serious and unsubstantiated allegations against the Israeli authorities that originated with pro-BDS NGOs.

“Although ten members of Congress have been misled by BDS groups, this campaign, that consists entirely of distorted allegations about Israel’s alleged treatment of Palestinian children and invented international legal claims, is built on immoral foundations,” Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, said on Wednesday. “Other members of Congress, as well as journalists and others interested in this issue, would be well advised to verify the NGO allegations with a credible source.”

Many of the charges against Israel made by McCollum — including the use of torture and beatings of Palestinian children as young as 11 — first surfaced in a report, “No Way to Treat a Child,” issued by Palestinian NGO Defense of Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). According to NGO Monitor’s research, had these allegations been true, “DCI-P had a duty to report this to the proper authorities … Failure to do so would be an ethical violation, if not malpractice.” NGO Monitor also pointed out that DCI-P’s lawyers had been approached by the IDF in 2013 to provide their services to detained Palestinian minors, and that the group, which supports the BDS campaign, had refused to oblige.

Moreover, DCI-P figures detailing arrests of minors since 2013 had been deliberately sensationalized, NGO Monitor asserted in a September 2017 report. An average of 85 Palestinian minors are arrested each month by Israeli authorities, out of a total population of one million — by comparison, the report noted, figures released by the authorities in England and Wales showed that in 2015-16, a total of 90,000 youths aged 10-17 were arrested by police.

While McCollum and her co-sponsors were all endorsed as candidates by J Street, a progressive Jewish lobby group based in Washington, DC, the statement announcing the legislation cited the backing of a number of fringe anti-Israel groups. As well as DCI-P — which is funded by European sources and has been accused of ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization — the list includes a Mennonite Group advocating the so-called “Kairos Document,” a work of Palestinian Christian liberation theology that attacks Judaism as a faith, along with Zionism, as manifestations of inherent Jewish racism.

Other groups mentioned on the list include “Jewish Voice for Peace,” which operates outside the structures of the US Jewish community and is partly financed by the anti-Zionist Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a leading promoter of the BDS campaign.

Jacob Millner — a senior analyst with The Israel Project (TIP), a Washington, DC-based communications organization — said that the support of such groups for McCollum’s legislation was “disturbing.”

“Rep. McCollum is legitimizing groups who aren’t just hostile to Israel, but are opposed to Israel’s very existence,” Millner told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. “She is also giving a seal of approval to the supporters of the Kairos Document, which uses antisemitic imagery to portray the Palestinians as having been crucified by Jews.”

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