Honenu has issued over 20 press releases since last Wednesday, in the wake of the arrest of a Jewish man from Ariel on suspicion of murdering a Palestinian man in a clash between settlers and Palestinians the day before. In its steady flood of announcements, the right-wing legal aid organization depicts the suspect – who was arrested by the Shin Bet security service and is being represented by Honenu – as having been “saved from lynching,” a recurrent phrase in its press releases, and as being tortured by the Shin Bet under interrogation.
This brainwashing was so successful that a few hundred people, nearly all of them from the mainstream of the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank, demonstrated outside the Ariel police station Saturday night to support the suspect. The protest was titled “Jews are attacked in a lynching and find themselves tortured in the Shin Bet’s cellars.” And on Tuesday, a group of religious Zionist rabbis, including some considered moderate, issued a statement urging the authorities to “release the suspect immediately and unconditionally!” A reminder: This is a man who is suspected of stabbing another man to death. Would they protest this way on behalf of a drug dealer who murdered a rival?
This is an escalation of Honenu’s activity. The organization is a registered nonprofit whose goals, as stated on GuideStar’s Israeli, Hebrew-language website, include “encouraging employers to give preference to Israeli military veterans.” If you’ve ever encountered any activity by the organization in this field, please call NASA’s new UFO search team. Its main, if not sole, activity, is defending (Jewish) terrorists and fighting the Shin Bet and its tactics (when they’re used against Jews). And while it isn’t a newcomer to the media, it hasn’t previously engaged with it this extensively, intensively and effectively.
Honenu marked its 20th anniversary this year. According to GuideStar, its volume in 2020 was 4.6 million shekels ($1.3 million); foreign sources accounted for 670,000 shekels (most of it from a single donor who wasn’t identified in the organization’s annual report).
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Honenu is authorized to receive tax-deductible donations under Article 46 of the tax code, which means the state – that is, we – are indirectly funding its activities. These activities are now being reviewed by the Registrar of Associations, because Honenu’s certification of compliance with the registrar’s rules of proper administration has lapsed. In the past three months, the registrar has informed it no fewer than five times – the latest just this week – that it hasn’t yet submitted all the documents necessary for its request for recertification to be considered.
Donations from the United States are made via the Central Israel Fund, a charitable organization that has already starred in several investigations here. Contributions to that organization are tax-deductible in America, though it seems unlikely that defending ultra-nationalist settlers meets IRS requirements. It generally allows tax-deductible donations only to organizations engaged in social-welfare activity, while coming down hard on “charities” that provide assistance and money to terrorists.
And we should call a spade a spade – the defendants Honenu represents are terrorists, from members of the Bat Ayin underground through Yitzhak Pass to Jack Tytell (in contrast, the man arrested last week is still only suspected of murder, but if he is convicted and is proved to have committed the murder out of nationalist motives, he will be considered a terrorist). And by indirectly funding Honenu’s activity, Israel is expressing support for its actions.
Honenu’s Hebrew-language website says the following: “We also look at the background and the motives. We understand the mindset of someone who, moved by the harm done to the Jewish people, crossed the line and, in his warmheartedness, took action against the desecration of the Jewish people’s national honor. And we think he deserves to receive all his rights.”
Desecrating our national honor? Would we still fund it if those words were written in Arabic?