- Numerous previous articles explained Israel's hardline
anti-democratic agenda, several accessed through the following links:
- Now the latest. On January 5, Israel's Knesset, by a
47 - 16 vote, approved forming a parliamentary committee to investigate
leftist Israeli organizations. Among them, B'Tselem issuing a same day
press release headlined, "B'Tselem proud of its activities and completely
transparent. The Knesset's decision is what harms Israel's international
- "We are proud of our work to promote human rights
in the Occupied Territories, which is conducted legally and with complete
transparency. Persecution and attempts at silencing will not stop us. In
a democracy, criticism of the government is not only legitimate - it is
essential. B'Tselem calls on all members of the Knesset to hold an informed
debate on the information provided by human rights organizations, instead
of harassing and smearing those who dare to question and criticize."
- The statement continued, saying:
- -- the inquiry's purpose isn't to establish facts; it's
- -- B'Tselem's donor list is public information, available
- -- its financial reports are available at the NGO Registrar's
office that just awarded B'Tselem a Certification of Proper Administration;
- -- if MKs care about Israel's deteriorating international
standing, "they should stop promoting parliamentary initiatives that
will only cause it to plummet even further."
- Israel's media are all over this story. In America, major
broadsheets like The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,
Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal ignored it, showing their usual
one-sided support for Israel's worst crimes, belligerence and extremism,
including by legislators.
- Even Israel's right-wing Jerusalem Post (JP) expressed
concern. One article headlined, "Left-wing NGOs mad Knesset to probe
foreign funding," said:
- "Left-wing NGOs railed on Wednesday evening against
the" Knesset vote. "Hours after (its debate), Government Services
Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu complaining that Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon had intentionally
misled MKs and the public" with information he provided as justification
for the probe.
- JP's earlier July 15, 2010 Ruth Eglash article headlined,
"Legislation against left-wing NGOs could harm Israelis," saying:
- "A spate of legislation aimed at local NGOs critical
of Israel could end up limiting freedom of speech and expression of every
Israeli," according to Ronit Heyd, Executive Director of SHATIL, The
New Israel Fund's Empowerment and Training Center for Social Change Organizations
in Israel, saying:
- "The most worrying trend over the last year is that
most people do not really understand that our democracy is now under serious
threat. Currently it only affects a certain group in society; human rights
organizations, (but) in the future it could affect other communities and
individuals who do not agree with the mainstream view or the views and
policies of the country's decision-makers."
- At the time, besides other extremist Knesset legislation,
she referred to a new bill passed its preliminary reading to prohibit Israelis
from backing the global BDS movement, or receive money from supportive
- Heyd added:
- "There is a serious need for concern when the government
is trying to silence dissenting voices, trying to silence any voice in
society that criticizes the way the government is working."
- Doing so is the essence of despotism, the track Israel,
like America, is further along on than most people in either country recognize.
- On January 5, Haaretz writer Jonathan Lis headlined,
"Leftist groups: 'Witch hunt' against us will destroy democracy in
- "Israeli left-wing organizations decried Wednesday('s)
Knesset plenum decision to support a panel of inquiry to investigate certain
groups suspected of 'delegitimizing' the Israeli Defense Forces."
- The next step involves a Knesset House Committee debate,
then a vote on whether foreign states, international organizations or others
linked to alleged terrorist groups provide funding.
- According to Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer:
- Knesset approval is "another step on the path toward
wiping out democracy in Israel" by trying to persecute critics.
- The New Israel Fund (NIF) said the decision "proves
how much the stature of Israeli democracy has deteriorated - even in the
house of legislators," acting more like despots than legitimate lawmakers.
"Democracy cannot function properly without freedom of expression,
freedom to sound criticism of the system, and active human rights groups.
The political persecution of human rights groups cause great damage to
Israel across the world, and this is precisely what will lead to the delegitimization
(of Israel) and the representation of it as a McCarthyite state in which
a witch hunt is taking place" lawlessly.
- The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)
called the move "authoritarian, immoral and illegitimate," adding
that it mourns the "slow but sure death" of Israeli democratic
- In total, 16 human rights groups signed an open letter
in protest, including B'Tselem, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel
(ACRI), Yesh Din, Machsom Watch, Adalah, Mossawa Center, Ir Amin and Hotline
for Migrant Workers.
- "Investigate us all, we have nothing to hide,"
they said. "You are invited to read our reports and our publications.
We will be happy if for a change you relate in a germane way to our questions
instead of trying to besmirch us. It did not work in the past and it will
not work this time."
- A second Jonathan Lis article headlined, "Knesset
votes to probe Israeli groups accused of 'delegitimizing' IDF," saying:
- The approval came "after Attorney General Yehuda
Weinstein ruled in August that no investigation should be launched against
such groups." Opposition MKs and human rights groups vocally disapproved.
As a result, the Knesset debate was stormy, "charged, (and) filled
with heckling and interruptions." So much so that security guards
were present "to prevent physical altercations" between opposing
- MK Nitzan Horowitz called the initiative "a shame
on the Knesset....The persecution campaign against human rights and citizens
rights groups has reached a new low. (It's) a brutal act of political persecution
using a coalition majority and Knesset funding, under the legal guise of
an investigation committee. Human rights and citizens rights groups save
the honor of Israel in the world and maintain its character as a democratic
state." Extremist MKs want to destroy it. "All to whom Israeli
democracy is dear must oppose this committee of persecution."
- Gideon Levy's Critical Op-Ed
- In Haaretz on January 6, he headlined, "When did
it become illegal to be a leftist in Israel," saying:
- "The police, the legal system, the Knesset, the
Shin Bet, and the IDF have joined forces with the propagandists of the
right to act as prosecutors without a trial." Coming next perhaps
will be "declar(ing) the left an illegal entity....From then on, whoever
thinks left, acts left, demonstrates left or tolerates left will belong
- Israel stands humiliated, shamed and exposed for its
extremism. As a result, a "land-stealing settler is a Zionist; a warmongering
right-winger is a patriot; an inciting rabbi is a spiritual leader; a racist
who expels foreigners is a loyal citizen. Only the leftist is a traitor."
- What Knesset members proposed would even make Joe McCarthy
and some of today's American right-wingers blush. Though never finding
any, McCarthy targeted alleged communists for political advantage. America's
current Congress pursues terrorists, again for the same purpose and as
justification for Washington's imperial wars.
- As a result, personal safety in both countries is jeopardized.
The common atmosphere is charged with extremism, racism, militarism, and
opposition to anyone challenging state authority, especially its most lawless
aspects, targeting innocent people at home while rampaging abroad against
groups or nations posing no threat to either country.
- In Israel, solidifying occupation control reigns terror
against anyone pursuing freedom and justice issues, and without pretext
waging all-out war, justifying it as self-defense against terrorism.
- For Jews and Israeli Arabs, "(o)ne single law could
simplify matters: Let every Israeli know that (it's) forbidden to believe
in a just Israel, forbidden to fight against any of its injustices, forbidden
to struggle for its soul."
- It begs the question: is Israel's democracy so anathema
that even blowing its cover is acceptable. Targeting human rights defenders
- A Final Comment
- Ramzy Clark, former US Attorney General, now progressive
anti-war activist and International Action Center founder led a solidarity
delegation to Gaza, beginning on January 5 when he met with Palestine's
elected Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh.
- Their schedule also includes meetings with human rights
activists, survivors of loved ones killed during Cast Lead, and public
meetings to address attendees. On return, they plan "to help bring
truth about Gaza to the people of the United States," denied it by
America's dominant media.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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