Akevot’s research exposes an important, and, until now, unknown aspect of the efforts the Israeli government made to deflect criticism over human rights violations which were part of the occupation since the very beginning. The documents describe events that took place during the first decade of the occupation, but they echo a practice that is still in existence today – manipulative efforts to undermine the work of human rights organizations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs directly operated inside Amnesty Israel and in the Israeli Association for Human Rights in a conscious effort to block criticism of Israel’s human rights record in the OPT using various manipulations. In Amnesty, operations included using the section to gather intelligence on upcoming Amnesty International activities and influence them, as well as using the reputation of the Israeli section’s chair to deflect grievances about torture, administrative detentions and house demolitions in the OPT. The ministry’s public diplomacy messages were camouflaged as independent claims made by Amnesty Israel in a cynical use of the legitimacy enjoyed by Amnesty as a human rights organization. The documents expose an Israeli government policy in the 1970s of infiltrating and manipulating civil society organizations operating in the field of human rights: whether by blocking their activities or by operating them either covertly or overtly.