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In the past year, a vigorous public debate has been waged in Israel between dozens of heavily funded organizations that call themselves human rights groups and several other organizations claiming that those groups have cynically exploited the human rights discourse as a propaganda tool for defaming the Israel Defense Forces and isolating Israel.

On the one side are organizations that charge Israel with carrying out war crimes, including those involved in hounding senior Israeli officials abroad or in calling for the boycott and divestment of Israel. These organizations believe that Israel is an anti-democratic, militaristic and racist regime.

On the other side are organizations that believe that Israel has a democratic, moral and tolerant society that is fighting physically and ideologically for its very right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. These organizations see Israel as a magnificent democracy that is dealing with gigantic threats while maintaining democratic norms at the highest possible level. They organizations believe that Israel has fallen victim to a mendacious campaign aimed at accusing it of crimes it did not perpetrate, and thus at justifying a policy that would negate its right and ability to protect itself.

The public debate that has taken place in Israel over the past year has underscored the fact that Israel is a democratic state of the highest order. There were reports, ads, hundreds of articles and endless interviews, along with demonstrations and various steps aimed at explaining and convincing. At times this debate was to the point and at other times it was demagogic. It was visceral, scathing and sometimes fiery. Just like in a democratic country.

A revolution took place in Israel this year, after many years in which only those attacking Israel (a small percentage of the population ) were represented in the public discourse, including in the media and among the intelligentsia. This was the first year in which Israeli democracy succeeded in creating two camps and two voices - two ideologies, as is customary in a democracy, and in Judaism. Not a single viewpoint, as is customary in communist countries. Two interpretations of the term "liberalism," not just one, as is customary at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

During the past year, the vast majority of the public became convinced that the organizations that call themselves human rights groups actually belong to the extreme left and seek to force their radical values on others through foreign funding. The vast majority of the public does not believe the lies that are being spread against the IDF fighters, and knows that Israel makes every effort to avoid harming innocent people. Most of the public knows that Israel is a democratic and open state. They do not buy the lie that all of us are backward, violent and racist, just because a negligible minority decided it has a monopoly over enlightenment, democracy and human rights.

The Israeli public is wise and capable of understanding a complex reality, as well as media manipulations, even though the "human rights groups" - which revolve around arrogance, hypocrisy and disrespect for human beings, for the people and their elected representatives - think otherwise. The people are critical and have finely honed senses, and can therefore easily identify who seeks to defame them and who is furthering their rights.

Since Israel is a democracy, and since transparency is a condition for democracy, we are entitled to know who is funding and fueling the campaign of hatred against us. Which special interests are meddling in Israeli democracy and bestowing great power - sometimes disproportionate, sometimes undemocratic - in the hands of a radical minority? In another few months, we shall get the answers to which we are entitled.

 

The writer is the chairman of the movement Im Tirtzu.