Israel’s democratic values: Punish human rights organizations, not war criminals

Israel/Palestine
on 26 Comments

Were you scared by the recent poll finding that the majority of Israeli Jews have profoundly anti-democratic attitudes and support restricting human rights groups, punishing Israeli citizens who call for boycotting the country, and punishing journalists who expose news that expose immoral actions by the military? Well then get all the way underneath your covers.

Those sentiments may be made the law of the land soon if a centrist coalition has its way and the Knesset passes a bill concerning non-governmental organizations. According to Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the proposed bill would prevent “the registration of a non-governmental organization (NGO) or would shut down an existing NGO, ‘if there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the organization is providing information to foreign bodies or is involved in lawsuits abroad against senior officials in the government in Israel and/or officers in the Isareli army regarding war crimes.’" 

Is that Israel’s way of saying, yes we commit war crimes, but we don’t want anyone to know about it?

The bill is being spearheaded by Ronit Tirosh of the Kadima Party, the supposedly “centrist” opposition party, and has the support of 19 members of the Knesset, according to Adalah.

The Guardian’s Rory McCarthy has more:

Israeli human rights groups say they are deeply concerned about a newly proposed bill that could shut down any organisation that investigates and mounts legal challenges to abuses by the military.
 

The bill was introduced in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, yesterday with the support of at least 17 MPs from different parties. If it became law it would prevent any organisation from being registered, or would close down existing groups if they were found to be passing information "to foreign entities" or were "involved in legal proceedings abroad against senior Israeli government officials or IDF officers for war crimes".
 

[…]

In a joint statement today, 10 Israeli human rights groups said the bill would "trample" democratic values. "Instead of defending democracy, the sponsors of this bill prefer to reduce it to ashes," they said. "This bill is the direct result of irresponsible leadership that is doing all it can to undermine democratic values and the institutions that are the backbone of a democracy: the supreme court, a free press and human rights organisations."

The groups included B’Tselem, Gisha, Adalah, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Rabbis for Human Rights. Adalah, which works on Arab minority rights within Israel, said the bill was "a dangerous step" against human rights groups. The bill "seeks to restrict the freedom of expression and freedom of association of these organisations", it said.
 

However, the bill already has significant cross-party support. "The bill will put an end to the rampage by NPOs [non-profit organisations] who are trying to subvert the state under the guise of human rights," Ronit Tirosh, an MP from the centrist opposition Kadima party, told the Ma’ariv newspaper.
 

The claim that Israel is a democracy that shares the values of the United States is becoming more farcical by the day.

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26 Responses

  1. potsherd
    April 29, 2010, 9:40 pm

    It doesn’t matter whether or not Israel shares the value of the US in these cases, because the values of the US aren’t worth emulating. The question is whether Israelis will want to continue living in such a country where human rights have no value.

  2. robin
    April 29, 2010, 10:23 pm

    Ah yes, perhaps there would be peace if only we could put an end to “the rampage of the non-profits”. Are they really serious? Really?

  3. Avi
    April 29, 2010, 11:20 pm

    Is that Israel’s way of saying, yes we commit war crimes, but we don’t want anyone to know about it?

    Of course. That’s what Israel is saying.

    Rest assured the bill will pass. This is part of the post-Gaza massacre campaign to change the law to fit the actions. This is why Israel launched counter Lawfare campaigns in the US and Europe and severed the lifeline of many human rights organizations that used to receive funding from the European Union. It’s a concerted effort, both in Israel and abroad to change the rules of the game, to make the illegal once again legal, to legalize criminal actions and state terrorism.

  4. Red
    April 30, 2010, 1:25 am

    The Promised Land blog carries a translation of the Ma’ariv’s article on th bill (I think was the first paper to cover the bill).

    According to the Ma’ariv article the bill has the support “the former director of the GSS, MK Avi Dichter, former deputy GSS director MK Gidon Ezra, Chairman of the State Audit Committee MK Yoel Hasson, MK Ronit Tirosh, MK Otniel Schneller, MK Yaakov Edri, MK Moshe Matlon, MK Ophir Akunis, MK Tzippi Hotovely, MK Uri Orbach, MK Zvulun Orlev and others”.

    Im Tirtzu has congratulated the MKs for introducing the bill.

  5. NormanF
    April 30, 2010, 1:38 am

    The bill under consideration has three objectives: 1) to require Israeli NGOs to disclose their funding, 2) to ensure they obey the laws of the country and 3) to prohibit them from undertaking any activity that could harm or discredit Israel or jeopardize its national security. In a democratic society, there are limits to freedom of association and freedom of speech. Israel’s Far Leftists – who incidentally dominate these NGOs, must play by the same rules as all the other citizens of the state.

    • Shingo
      April 30, 2010, 2:41 am

      “In a democratic society, there are limits to freedom of association and freedom of speech. Israel’s Far Leftists – who incidentally dominate these NGOs, must play by the same rules as all the other citizens of the state.”

      False.  Democracy has nothing to do with freedom of association and freedom of speech.   Laws that prohibit these rights go hand in hand with militarism and authoritarian governments.  They are an admission of a failed society.

      It’s also ironic how right wingers claim to value and cherish freedom while shoeing contempt for it when others demand it.

    • Shmuel
      April 30, 2010, 2:55 am

      discredit Israel

      Is that like “denigrating Turkishness”?

  6. Sumud
    April 30, 2010, 1:43 am

    Witness the slow descent into chaos.

  7. radii
    April 30, 2010, 2:00 am

    Lose your humanity and you lose it all … and israelis seem to be rushing headlong into inhumanity not just as a means to an end but the end itself … and they’ll be the last to see it coming and have no clue that they’ve done it to themselves

    • Chu
      April 30, 2010, 9:29 am

      They are stripping off their clothing called ‘democracy’ for their fanatical dreams. There’s no opposition to these policies, despite world opinion, inside the Knesset so they are trapped to move forward and destroy their fledgling reputation of a democracy.
      But will there be another Gaza in the next 3 years? It’s hard to imagine they will pursue this awful idea in EJ.

    • Don
      April 30, 2010, 10:39 am

      “…no clue that they’ve done it to themselves ”

      Seems to me you hit that little nail on the head. Though the phenomenon continues to amaze me.

      And just an aside, Radii…your web site is outstanding.

      • Mooser
        April 30, 2010, 11:16 am

        “and israelis seem to be rushing headlong into inhumanity not just as a means to an end but the end itself”

        And Hitler wins!

  8. Julian
    April 30, 2010, 6:41 am

    Good for Israel. the EU needs to keep out of internal Israeli politics. The great Gerald Steinberg has done an incredible job exposing the EU anti Zionist agenda.

    • Shingo
      April 30, 2010, 6:45 am

      Human rights are universal issues Julian, or are you suggesting that the Holocaust accountability hould have been dealth with by Gemrna’s alone?

      There’s nothign great about Gerald Steinberg.

    • Don
      April 30, 2010, 10:42 am

      Nothing personal, Julian, but if the EU needs to keep out of internal Israeli politics (I am not arguing the point), why is it ok for Israel to be constantly involved in “internal American politics”?

      What, exactly, is the difference here? Why ok in one instance, and wrong in another? (I have to admit, the lack of “internal logic” of a “given argument”annoys me just as a matter of principal).

      • eee
        April 30, 2010, 10:44 am

        Don,

        How is Israel involved in US politics? You have American citizens advocating for Israel. That is very different than Israel being involved in US politics.

      • Chaos4700
        April 30, 2010, 10:48 am

        And none of those people are Israeli citizens, eee?

      • Mooser
        April 30, 2010, 11:19 am

        Chaos, to even insinuate that Zionists or Jews have the same limitations as other people, or should be judged in the same way as others, is anti-Semitism!

      • Chaos4700
        April 30, 2010, 11:21 am

        Apparently, Mooser. Apparently.

  9. Richard Parker
    May 1, 2010, 6:25 am

    To target Israeli NGOs with, for example,
    The bill under consideration has three objectives: 1) to require Israeli NGOs to disclose their funding, 2) to ensure they obey the laws of the country and 3) to prohibit them from undertaking any activity that could harm or discredit Israel or jeopardize its national security. seem, on the face of it, perfectly reasonable, but just imagine if these strictures were fully and fairly applied to AIPAC or WINEP or any of the other pro-Israel NGOs operating in the US.

    (Note that NGO is a dirty word in Israel now, but is not even applied to their far more pro-active equivalents in the US.)

    When Larry Franklin peddled details about the negotiations between Iran and the US about senior Al Qaida operatives held in Iran (including Osama’s son) to be swapped with MKO members held by the US or its proxies in Iraq, he definitely overstepped the mark. That’s treason.

    (The Mujahedin Khalq Organization had already been in operation against the Iranian regime for some 30+ years. They were supported by Saddam Hussein and then again, but quietly, when the US invaded Iraq)
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    The US allowed Camp Ashraf to become the HQ of the MKO (that had already been designated by them as a terrorist organisation).
    link to en.wikipedia.org

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