Netanyahu Leading the Fight Against Israel's Peace Activists

Right-wing parties blame Israel human rights organizations for aiding what they call 'campaign to delegitimize Israel', and have turned them into a scapegoat.

The "price tag" graffiti sprayed on the home of Hagit Ofran of Peace Now on Tuesday is part of a consistent delegitimization campaign against left-wing organizations. Virtually not a day goes by without peace activists suffering threats to their lives or damage to their property. On the eve of the 16th memorial day in honor of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who fell victim to a campaign of incitement by the extreme right, it seems that the lesson has not been learned.

Ministers and Knesset members have turned Israeli human rights organizations into scapegoats. The right-wing parties, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading the band, blame these organizations for aiding what they call a "campaign to delegitimize Israel." This is their substitute for ending settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which outrages all of Israel's supporters worldwide.

Price tag graffiti outside hagit ofran's home - Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum

With the start of the Knesset's winter session, Netanyahu came out in support of a bill by his confidant, MK Ofir Akunis (Likud ), that would ban "political" nongovernmental organizations from receiving donations of over NIS 20,000 from foreign governments or international organizations. The term "political NGOs" is transparent camouflage for a law intended to stigmatize and shackle the activities of NGOs that focus on protecting the rights of minorities and monitoring the behavior of government agencies. The bill's explanatory notes state explicitly that it is intended to deal with "organizations acting in the guise of human rights organizations that seek to influence the political discourse, character and policies of the State of Israel."

Since they do not have any legal justification for shutting down these human rights organizations, Netanyahu and his colleagues are trying to achieve this goal via the parliamentary majority they command. As opposed to donations from unsupervised private sources, which also flow to right-wing organizations, human rights organizations receive aid from legitimate bodies like the United Nations and the European Union, which scrupulously abide by the rules of transparency.

The prime minister's active support for this idiotic bill shows that he has not internalized Vladimir Jabotinsky's teachings or Menachem Begin's legacy regarding the essence of democracy. All we can do is urge those of his colleagues who do care about preserving Israel's democracy - first and foremost Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) - to stand in the breach.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: הלקח של רבין לא נלמד