It's final: B'tselem loses Dutch prize

Nationalist Israeli groups fought long and hard and succeeded in depriving radical leftists of European prize money.

Tags: B'Tselem
Gil Ronen ,

B'Tselem demonstration (file)
B'Tselem demonstration (file)
Flash 90

The Dutch Foreign Office announced Thursday that the winner of the 2015 Tulip human rights award is IRA-Mauritania, which operates to abolish slavery. The group will receive 100,000 euros.

The contest piqued Israeli interest a few months ago, when the ultra-leftist B'tselem appealed to its supporters to vote for it in a net poll-based run-off. Nationalist groups responded to the appeal by asking people to vote for B'tselem's competitors in the contest, and thus to deny it a victory.

The nationalist campaign succeeded in keeping B'tselem out of the group of organizations selected by the public to enter the finals, but a Dutch Foreign Ministry committee placed it in the final six anyway.

According to sources cited by the news website NRG, NGO-Monitor exchanged letters with the Dutch Foreign Ministry and informed it that B'tselem was already receiving 710,000 euros for 2014-2016, and that it is therefore "not clear why there is a need or justification for additional funding."

Lev Solodkin of the Center for Advancement of Israel-Europe Relations, who was also active in the anti-B'tselem campaign, said: "I believe that the organizers of the competition understood that the popular campaign to prevent B'tselem from winning reflected authentic frustration with a group that defines itself as being a human rights organization, but in fact only cares about one side's rights."

My Israel's Sarah Ha'etzni told NRG that "the Israeli public showed that it knows how to fight resolutely and democratically against those who harm it all year long."

She conveyed her group's "condolences" to B'tselem, but noted that "we are sure they will be able to make up the lost money from one foreign government or another."