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B’Tselem director at French award ceremony: Hysterical Israeli government response illustrates reality of propaganda, lies, and threats

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad at French Republic 2018 Human Rights
Award ceremony: Hysterical Israeli government response illustrates reality
of propaganda, lies, and threats B’Tselem operates in; we will act with
determination to end the occupation

The Human Rights Award of the French Republic is now being presented at the
Ministry of Justice in Paris to this year’s laureates. At the ceremony,
B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad thanked the National Consultative
Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) for the award, saying “The occupation, in
and of itself, is organized, prolonged, state violence, which brings about
dispossession, killings, and oppression. All branches of the state are part
of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and
bureaucrats. Those who lead the opposition to this unjust reality are human
rights organizations – precisely because we categorically reject violence
and harm to civilians.”

El-Ad also addressed the pressure that Israeli government officials tried to
exert on decision-makers in France: “The hysterical response by Israeli
government officials, attempting to prevent this prize from being awarded,
illustrates the reality within which we work: propaganda, lies, and threats
by a government which believes that silencing and coverup will enable
further human rights violations. In the face of this moral bankruptcy, we
are here not only to further expose the truth – but also to bring an end to
the injustice.”

B`Tselem Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad, at the award ceremony today
This year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, the prize was awarded to organizations being harassed or
pressured for defending and promoting human rights. Joint-recipients,
Israeli NGO B’Tselem and Palestinian NGO Al-Haq – both human rights
organizations working to end the Israeli occupation – were among this year’s
five laureates. The others are human rights defenders from China, Colombia,
Niger and Belarus.

The Human Rights Award, entitled “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is endowed
by the French government. It has been awarded annually since 1988 by the
CNCDH. Past laureates include human rights defenders from various countries,
including Nicaragua, Côte d`Ivoire, Haiti, Cambodia, Colombia, Rwanda and

In Israel, in the Occupied Territories, everywhere

`I ask myself often, imagine we, the international community today, would
have to establish such a declaration on human rights. Would we manage
that?”, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, asked last week. “I fear,

Today, December 10th, International Human Rights Day, we mark the 70th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This might have
been a day of celebration, but given the state of human rights all over the
world, I prefer Chancellor Merkel’s sober remarks.

Today, International Human Rights Day, is the day we ask you to join the
human rights community. We invite you to join us in our work by contributing
to B`Tselem. Every contribution, even a few dollars, will not only allow us
to continue our work, but also to know that behind us stand people who
believe in the values of human rights.

When millions are not “free and equal in dignity and rights” (Art. 1 of the
declaration); “the right to life, liberty and security of person” (Art. 3)
is under constant attack without “effective remedy by the competent national
tribunals” (Art. 8); people are “subjected to arbitrary interference with
[their] privacy” (Art. 12), have no “right to freedom of movement” (Art. 13)
or the “right to a nationality” (Art. 15); when people do not enjoy “the
right to freedom of opinion and expression” (Art. 19) and certainly do not
“take part in the government of [their] country” (Art. 21) - when this is
the reality, it is not just the issue of the UDHR’s power and vision that
comes into sharper focus, but also the suffering and oppression caused by
the utter disregard for it.

Today, together with our colleagues at Palestinian human rights
organization, Al-Haq, we receive the Human Rights Award of the French
Republic. The values both organizations share are the values of the UDHR,
values that lay the groundwork for a life of dignity, of equal rights, of
freedom and justice for us all. The fight to realize these values is long
and bitter. Will we prevail?

As the UDHR states: “it is essential [...] that human rights should be
protected by the rule of law”. If we are to continue our work, we need your
help. This year, we have once again shown that despite the efforts made by
the prime minister and his cronies, we speak up for human rights loudly,
clearly and fearlessly - in Israel, in the Occupied Territories and
throughout the world. Supporting B`Tselem is the practical way of validating
the values we believe in.

Will we prevail? The answer lies with each and every one of us.

Thank you,

Hagai El-Ad
Executive Director, B`Tselem
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