B’Tselem aspires to turn the Washington branch into the base of operations for enhancing the American public’s awareness of rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank, particularly that of American Jews.
The inauguration ceremony took place at one of the Congressional buildings on Capitol Hill, where the group plans on establishing itself.
B’Tselem’s Executive Director Jessica Montell said that the organization’s function is, “to ensure that our government honors human rights and operates in accordance with the highest moral values.”
The move is a step up for the group, which has established an international reputation for putting Israel’s activities in the territories in the spotlight.
Mitchell Plitnick, who heads the organization's efforts in the United States, said that “the debate amongst the American friends of Israel often focuses on the big picture of the diplomatic efforts and the humanitarian reality on the ground is lost.”
Plitnick said he intends to supply the State Department, Congress, media and American Jews with "credible information" on the human rights situation in the territories so that “the protection of human rights stands in center stage in US-Israel relations in all diplomatic efforts,” said Plitnick.
The B’Tselem organization, which was founded in 1989, is an information center created by Israelis in order to provide the Israeli public with information on human rights violations in the territories.
The organization’s activities are subsidized by the British and Norwegian governments and European Union funds, as well as through private contributions.
Over the past few years the organization has attained an image of reliability.
Their findings are quoted in the US State Department’s annual report on the human rights situation in the territories.