The public shouldn’t worry that the listing of civil society organizations in the West Bank as terrorist organizations is baseless and that it’s sheer persecution of opponents of the occupation, as befits a military regime. After all, even State Prosecutor Amit Aisman approved the listing, and only after he approved it did the Shin Bet security service submit its intelligence reports to Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
So what if these organizations have been around for a long time and have international reputations? So what if some are well known to the human rights and civil society communities both in Israel and abroad? Aisman didn’t approve it on a whim. He did so only after meetings with other members of the prosecution at which the Shin Bet presented classified intelligence tying these groups to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization. One person who saw this intelligence described it as “abundant and convincing information.” Are you convinced?
And don’t worry, Aisman isn’t the only one in on the secret. Nor is there any need to get excited over the response of U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price, who rebuked Israel for not informing the United States in advance and made it clear that Washington would ask Jerusalem to explain the “rationale” for this move.
Price should also take a deep breath before jumping into automatic response mode. Everything’s fine. A diplomatic-security official said that representatives of the Shin Bet and the Foreign Ministry would go to Washington in the coming days with ironclad intelligence material.
Therefore, the Israeli public is kindly requested to keep quiet. Please don’t disturb father Shin Bet and mother America while they’re outlawing organizations that document and organize civic resistance to the occupation (and what do Arabs have to do with human rights anyway?). After all, they’re doing this for our own good, because they’re concerned about us and protecting us and know what we need better than we do.
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And besides all that, why would someone be declared a terrorist if all they do is document human rights violations in the territories? The public can be completely confident that the Shin Bet and Gantz would never do something like this if they didn’t have evidence. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget that they simply can’t reveal their evidence to the public because it’s top-secret, and the public doesn’t have the requisite security clearance to see this sensitive intelligence material.
But in truth, we must not accept such behavior. A step this extreme, which is like declaring a dirty war on Palestinian civil society organizations, requires the evidence to be made public to remove all doubt.
It’s unacceptable that the Shin Bet is revealing its material only to a few anonymous officials, Israeli or American, and that’s the end of the matter, while the public has to accept this decree without having any clue what it’s all about.
If the U.S. president and members of the U.S. Congress are allowed to see this material and know what it’s about, then so is the Israeli public. Gantz, prove it to us.