A few days ago, the right-wing Israeli political organization “Im Tirtzu” published a slick video clip in which it accused by name four Israeli members of human rights organizations of being “moles” operated by foreign countries to sabotage Israel’s counter-terror efforts (The Times of Israel). The NGO human rights organizations may receive grants from countries and individuals outside of Israel to promote peace and understanding, but that hardly makes them foreign moles. In fact, Im Tirtzu, which supports settlements in the occupied West Bank and other Israeli right-wing organizations are themselves funded largely by right-wing U.S. (a foreign country) contributions (Haaretz).
The four individuals portrayed in the Im Tirtzu video work for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence featuring Israeli soldiers testifying about malpractices and alleged crimes committed by IDF troops against Palestinians; the Center for Defense of the Individual, which represents Palestinians under Israeli occupation; and B’Tselem, which documents human rights abuses in the territories. (Haaretz)
By naming and showing their faces in the video clip, Im Tirtzu is endangering the lives of these four individuals, using hate speech and inciting their members and the public at large. But that’s not it. This is part of an overall campaign by the Israeli extreme right which includes proposed new laws, such as the “transparency law” directed against NGOs. “These NGOs challenge the authority of the government that has been elected by the people,” said the author of the proposed “transparency law”. This sounds like Russia, Uganda, China, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan or Burundi (The Washington Post), hardly a group of democratic and desirable countries…
There is trouble in Israel… Tensions between secular, religious, Ashkenazi or Sephardi Jews are not new, but they are escalating to a point never seen before. Racism, which led so many Jews to death chambers, is now a real problem in Israel as well. About 60,000 Africans have immigrated there since 2006, fleeing unrest in their home countries. In Israel, these migrants have faced intense racism and persecution by right-wing politicians and activists, and have been branded as “infiltrators”.
Israel is split between a secular, liberal, modern, and economically thriving half, living alongside an ultra-Orthodox, observant, nationalist, and poorer half. Nearly 70 years after Israel’s independence, the country is debating the meaning of its very existence: is Israel a (religious) Jewish State or a modern country where Jews and Arabs live together? Is Israel a refuge for the Jews or a country from which they radiate? Is Israel Auschwitz or Sinai?