Category Archives: NGO Monitor

Muzzling Discussion of the Nakba and Palestinian History

By Donna Nevel
10/12/13

Nakba: Palestine refugees 1948

Nakba: Palestine refugees 1948

We know all too well how adamantly pro-Israel forces in the U.S. Jewish community and Israel consider certain conversations and actions critical of Israel “beyond the pale,” and how blatant their hasbara (pro-Israel propaganda) attempts are to silence and suppress them.

Although the parameters (of what is “acceptable”) may change at times, what doesn’t seem to change is how hasbara intensifies as efforts to reveal historical and current truths and demand change become more visible and powerful.

Most recently, Al Jazeera reports that right wing groups have tried to censor schoolbooks and silence organizations that make visible to the Israeli public the Nakba, an Arabic word meaning catastrophe that refers to the forced dispossession and expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and land before, during, and after the creation of the Jewish state.

A bit of context: Some of these recent attempts at muzzling come as Zochrot, an Israeli organization, was planning (and recently held) a monumental conference, “From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of the Palestinian Refugees.” The conference had as its focus “the implication of Return for the country’s physical, cultural and economic space, on the nature of its future society, the status of Palestinians and Jews living here, the nature of its regime, and last but not least, the practicalities of returning property after 65 years of refugeehood and the destruction of Palestinian life on the one hand, and the establishment of a Jewish State and the resulting new reality on the other.”  This conference aligned with Zochrot’s ongoing commitment to “challenge the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions and promote awareness, political and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.”  

Some of those engaged in the nastiest tactics are extreme right-wing groups like Im Tirtzu or NGO Monitor, which are both closely connected to the Israeli government. Recently, in response to an NGO Monitor report attacking it, the U.S. group, Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote: “NGO Monitor has a long history, broadly documented, of attacking any organization that it believes is effectively criticizing Israeli policies. The organizations NGO Monitor has attacked include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Al Haq, and the New Israel Fund, to name just a few. We are honored to be among them.”

But we also know that attempts to erase the Nakba have been standard policy and practice since the creation of the State, and they have been undertaken by people and groups across the political spectrum.  (More about this in a follow-up piece.)

Although the opposition may step up its tactics–of censoring; spying on organizations; prohibiting groups from even referring to the Nakba; shutting down funding; intimidating justice workers–that won’t change the fact that the history, the stories, the evidence, the documentation about the Nakba are indisputable.

Zochrot is having a truth commission for the events of 1948, to be held in March 2014,  “that will seek to collect and document information about the 1948 events, focusing in particular on the actions that led to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. By exposing the public to this information, the event will seek to encourage various audiences in Israel to acknowledge these actions and take personal and collective responsibility for them.” This critical work continues.

Odious NGO Monitor smears Electronic Intifada, tries to cut funding

NGO Monitor was captured perfectly in The Forward by liberal jewish thinker Leonard Fine who said it was “an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.” But now, no longer satisfied with its McCarthyite efforts to not just condemn, but actually take down respected human rights organizations, it is seeking to stop critical funding of the Electronic Intifada, a key media source for information and analysis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Electronic Intifada (EI) is a pioneering online news outlet that has been an essential resource for activists, scholars and journalists since its inception in 2002.  Its coverage is unapologetically sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle for human rights, grounded in an understanding of international law and universal human rights. Years before the current proliferation of blogs and alternate news sources, EI was there first, providing a much needed antidote to one-sided mainstream news coverage of Israel and Palestine. And they continue to provide original reporting and news and analysis you still can’t get anywhere else.

Which perhaps is why NGO Monitor has made the preposterous claim that EI is “an anti-Semitic website,” stunningly based on the fact that one staffer is a supporter of the BDS movement and executive director, Ali Abunimah, in his non EI-related speaking engagements, “calls for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and routinely uses false apartheid rhetoric.” Really? This is what they’ve got? (They’d have to start throwing a lot of Jewish Israeli government officials into the anti-Semite dungeon if invoking ‘apartheid” is officially verboten… and Abunimah’s one state is different in substance but certainly similar in form to an increasing number of Israeli right-wingers who also push for a “one state solution”. And then there’s the entirely reasonable observation that we seem to already have a de-facto one state after 43 some years of occupation.. but I digress)

Yet another of thousands of such a ridiculous claims would be laughable if NGO Monitor didn’t have a card up its sleeve–EI gets about one third of its funding from a Dutch government-funded aid organization. According to the Jerusalem Post, NGO Monitor’s unsubstantiated charges

“prompted Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to say on Thursday to the Post, “I will look into the matter personally. If it appears that the government subsidized NGO ICCO does fund Electronic Intifada, it will have a serious problem with me.”

As EI has documented in this must-read report, NGO Monitor has very close ties to the far-right. They use the language of NGO (non-governmental organization) transparency to go after funding of Israeli and other human rights groups and funders (including the New Israel Fund and Amnesty International) while remaining completely silent on Israel’s funding-dependent and law-breaking settler groups. EI writes:

NGO Monitor is an extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government, military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and organizations in the United States….

NGO Monitor’s attack on The Electronic Intifada is part of a well-financed, Israeli-government endorsed effort to silence reporting about and criticism of Israel by attacking so-called “delegitimizers” — those who speak about well-documented human rights abuses, support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), or promote full equality for Palestinians. Last February, The Electronic Intifada reported that a leading Israeli think-tank had recommended a campaign of “sabotage” against Israel’s critics as a matter of state policy (“Israel’s new strategy: “sabotage” and “attack” the global justice movement,” 16 February 2010).

NGO Monitor has already been at the forefront of a campaign to crush internal dissent by Jewish groups in Israel that want to see Israel’s human rights record improved.

The Jerusalem-based organization poses as a project concerned with accountability for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but as Israeli human rights activist and journalist Didi Remez has stated, “NGO Monitor is not an objective watchdog: It is a partisan operation that suppresses its perceived ideological adversaries through the sophisticated use of McCarthyite techniques — blacklisting, guilt by association and selective filtering of facts” (“Bring on the transparency,” Haaretz, 26 November 2009).

There is good news here- thus far EI reports that no action has been taken thus far to end their funding. Presumably anyone who does so would have to actually substantiate NGO Monitor’s spurious charges. Good luck with that.

Fighting Anti-Semitism with Islamophobia at Yale

Audre Lorde used the metaphor of the masters tools not being able to dismantle the masters house to explain why racism could not be used to fight sexism. Unfortunately, no one told many of the scholars who attended the recent Yale conference Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity. In no case can one oppression effectively or ethically used to combat another, but particularly in the case of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, where one is threatening to take the place of the other.

Yaman Salahi writes about the virulence of many of the speakers. First up

Among the many anti-Arab and anti-Muslim speakers was Itamar Marcus, a member of the Israeli settler movement who offered a keynote speech on “The Central Role of Palestinian Antisemitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity.” The title alone reduces an entire people and its history to irrationality and hatred; worse, it was but one of dozens of talks with a similarly problematic theme.

It is hard to imagine any other conflict where Yale would allow a front line and privileged member of a conflict to hold forth on their opponent. Would Yale invite Chinese settlers in Tibet to hold forth about the inferiority and irrationality of Tibetans? Members of Sudanese militias to criticize the perfidity of people of Darfur?  Salahi gives several other examples of speakers’ problematic past records and then points out to the larger problem.

<a href=’http://www.oncampusweb.com/delivery/ck.php?n=21672435&cb=11040234′ target=’_blank’><img src=’http://www.oncampusweb.com/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=121&cb=11040234&n=21672435′ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>

The center’s failure to adhere to consistent anti-racist principles makes it vulnerable to the charge that it is motivated by a political agenda. Indeed, many of its speakers hailed from partisan, right-wing, pro-Israel organizations including NGO Monitor, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Palestinian Media Watch — not to mention the Israeli government. In addition, many talks functioned as apologia for recent controversial Israeli actions, including an attack that killed nine civilians on a humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza this summer that one speaker called “the Jihad flotilla.”

Using Arabic terms as a slur does not seem like an effective way of combating Anti-Semitism, to say the least, but hardly suprising from this crew. And neither is their rigid view of acceptable Judaism.

In addition, speakers at times seemed to conflate anti-Israel sentiment with anti-Semitism. For example, in a plenary about anti-racist Jewish critics of Israel titled “Self Hatred and Contemporary Antisemitism,” Richard Landes’ speech asked, “What Drives Jews to Loathe Israel Publicly?” as if those dissidents’ claims were based not on merit but on some pathological psychosis. Landes and others were not speaking about radical organizations but rather reputable human rights organizations, prominent Jewish dissidents and international student activists — exactly the kind of people a center purporting to fight bigotry should celebrate.

Instead Jews who differ from these groups view of Israel are marginalized and their Judaism question.

the same logic, inverted, often provides a pretext for racist ideas about Jews around the world, for those who imagine that Jews, no matter where they are or what they say, form a monolithic body that can be blamed for Israel’s actions.

Of course, Arabs and Muslims are the primary targets of Islamophobita, but Salahi also realizes the cost to Jews of this kind of mindset.

While the center’s failure to abstain from inflammatory anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric is offensive and dangerous, the real tragedy is its failure to recognize that a successful and principled stand against anti-Semitism requires a principled stand against all kinds of racism, including anti-Muslim/anti-Arab bigotry in America and anti-Palestinian racism in Israel.

So Jews who have differing views on Israel cannot count on these self appointed fighters of anti-Semitism, We would not be welcome at such a conference, and such bigotry will not protect us. Fortunately we have allies like Salahi who we can partner with to fight both our oppressions together.

Magnes ZIonist also reporting on the conference, asks where were the progressive Jews who study Anti-Semitism?

Do only hard-line Zionists care about anti-Semitism? No, not really. But the study of anti-Semitism has gravitated in that direction because it has been taken over by Israelis and Zionists, and is supported mostly by hard-line Zionist money. Sorry to be blunt, but I can think of no other explanation.

–Jesse Bacon

New Israel Fund, itself a victim, considers (and rejects) some muzzling of its own. UPDATE: the muzzlers fail.

I don’t have a lot to add to Richard Silverstein’s sobering post on the New Israel Fund’s proposal to denying grants to groups that do not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The Forward brings distressing news that the New Israel Fund has prepared draft funding guidelines that would bar any Israeli NGO which did not endorse Israel as a Jewish state.

I have, throughout the Im Tirzu attacks, stood by NIF and championed its cause.  But if it follows through on such guidelines it will have succumbed to the venom spewed by Im Tirzu.  It will have caved to pressure from the Israeli right to conform its mission to a pro-Zionist one, rather than one that embraces the notion of Israel as a state that empowers all its citizens, including those who are not Jewish.

Silverstein goes on to point out how if this is a response to right wing attacks on New Israel Fund, it is unlikely to appease those critics.

The NIF, under enormous pressure from the Israeli right, determines that it must compromise with its values in order to appease its enemies? Does NIF really believe this will protect it from the worst of the hatred coming its way?

If this is what NIF’s leaders are thinking they are sadly mistaken.  If they cave, the right will see this as a sign of weakness and it will crowd in for what it hopes to be the kill.  And such compromise will destroy the organization’s credibility among its Arab donees.  Who in the Palestinian community will want to accept money from it under such conditions?

We have also supported the New Israel Fund many times on these pages, and been inspired by their work. One of my first posts here at Muzzlewatch was how impressed I was by a panel at JStreet’s conference organized by the New Israel Fund. Its most powerful moment came when a Jewish Israeli, Hagai El-Ad of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said he was not afraid of the Palestinian narrative of their own dispossession in the  creation of Israel being taught in Israeli schools. He was afraid of an Israel where such a thing would not be possible.

I think the New Israel Fund should apply the words of their donee El-Ad in this case. NIF has nothing to fear from groups who have a different vision of just what a “New Israel” would look like. Provided they advocate their vision democratically, such groups, many of them Palestinian citizens of Israel, can only strengthen the democratic values that sustain Jewish Israelis as well, values that the New Israel Fund has supported in the past. What they should fear is a country that outlaws such alternative visions, a country that would make it far more difficult for the NIF to do its important work.

UPDATE: Richard Silverstein reports that the attempts to muzzle grantees were defeated. Good news!

My source tells me the proposed guidelines will include a provision acknowledging Israel as a Jewish homeland.  But the language will also affirm that Israel is:

…A democracy dedicated to the full equality of all its citizens and communities.

Not perfect language, but Silverstein beileves the compromise to be in good faith.

–Jesse Bacon

SF and Boston: Jewish Charity Blacklists and the Israel Question

What do Jewish Voice for Peace, Madre, Amnesty International, New Israel Fund, American Friends Service Committee, Media Matters and Institute for Policy Studies all have in common?

There has been a growing backlash since the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation first announced the most restrictive funding guidelines in the country. The guidelines essentially ban recipients from giving voice to anyone who doesn’t toe the line (which the Federation ultimately determines) on Israel. No wonder the Bay Area Jewish intellectual class is in an uproar. As UC Hebrew and Comparative Literature professor Chana Kronfeld says, “All the major Israeli writers would probably be banned.”

The Open Letter to Jewish Communities in the Forward signed by Bay Area Jewish academics, rabbis  and other leaders, as well as coverage in Tablet, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the New York Times reveals the extent to which concern about ideological policing is now a concern not just for the left but for the Jewish center.

However, what is not generally known is that the Fed’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund has also quietly pulled a number of nonprofit organizations from their acceptable charities list in an apparent attempt to ensure ideological purity.

What are those groups? Using a bit of technical sleuthing (and a tip-off from a donor), we’ve been able to pinpoint thus far 6 nonprofits that have been pulled from the list: Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, the Institute for Policy Studies, Madre, Global Exchange, and the National Lawyers Guild. There is no reason to think there aren’t more – we will publicize those names as they become available. This means supporters of these groups who keep funds in the Endowment Fund can no longer designate them as recipients.

Even more interesting, one can still designate money to the Hebron Fund, FLAME, and extremist settler militia funder, the Central Fund of Israel.

The implications of this new battle that mirrors the war on human rights groups in Israel haven’t been lost on Boston activists who, within weeks of the announcement of the SF guidelines, launched their own Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies witch hunt. (See embedded PDF file/link below-all articles from Boston’s Jewish paper, the Jewish Advocate.) Even The David Project founder Charles Jacobs weighs in on these so-called enemies of Israel: The American Friends Service Committee • Democracy Now! • The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) • The Tides Foundation • Media Matters • The New Israel Fund • Brit Tzedek v’Shalom • Physicians for Social Responsibility • The Workmen’s Circle • Amnesty International

Meanwhile NGO Monitor’s Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a man who never met a human rights organization he didn’t hate, is speaking this week at the Annual Conference of the Association for Israel Studies, at the University of Toronto on “Delegitimizing Israel: Can Jewish Philanthropy Change the Tide?”

Proposed Jewish Charity Blacklist in Boston: Not Pro-Israel Enough?

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Reut Institute report author lies about Naomi Klein

Let’s review shall we?

Reporters questioned the Reut Institute about their use of the terms “sabotage” and “attack” in a set of recommendations for how the Israeli government should respond to human rights group who said things they consider a threat. In response, Reut didn’t say, “We were misunderstood and we reject violence of any kind.” But they did suggest that what they mostly meant was sabotage and digging campaigns against individuals who work for human rights organizations- nasty work pioneered by NGO Monitor. (Which may be why one acquaintance at a human rights group that does work in Palestine said that the director sent an email to staff suggesting they come forward now with any personal information that could be used against them. Sad days indeed.)

Reut Institute’s Eran Shayshon got a chance to explain the report on The Current, Canada’s flagship radio morning program : CBC Listen here.

It’s interesting that out of the 92-page report (download it all here), Naomi Klein isn’t mentioned once. Yet Shayshon confidently says that Klein, and her opposition to “Israel’s right to exist”, is one of the main reasons that Toronto is considered a hub of delegitimacy. Only problem? Klein has never been opposed to Israel’s right to exist.

(Another problem? My guess is that there’s a second report or database somewhere that is full of names of people like Klein and specific organizations conspicuously missing from the published report. They knew issuing a list of enemies of the state would cause more of a firestorm, but it’s the obvious next step when you’re fighting a war. And it works in Israel and Palestine, why not the rest of the world?)

The report also says “there was an attempt to boycott the Toronto Film Festival because it thematically spotlighted Tel Aviv”. That’s a lie too. The Toronto Declaration explicitly did not call for a boycott of the festival. It opposed showing films under a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv.

What Shayshon says about me is a flat out lie. I have made a personal choice not to advocate any particular political outcome in Israel-Palestine. He can search all my writing and public statements, he won’t find anything. What I do advocate, and what the BDS campaign advocates, is for Israel to abide by all applicable international laws. Any political outcome — whether one state, two state or more — must abide by these universal non-discriminatory principles. Though I do have personal preferences, I have no secret agenda and would support any outcome that conformed to these principles.
Shayshon’s other big lie is his claim that I oppose “Israel’s right to exist”; indeed that I “have stated it out[right].” Once again, I challenge him to find one single example in anything I have said or written that would in any way support this claim. He won’t find it.
This lie could just be slander, and attempt to inflict more “shame” on BDS advocates, as the leaked internal document explained to all of us recently. But I suspect that if challenged, Shayshon would simply claim that to support BDS is to oppose Israel’s existence, a claim I have heard before. This is interesting. Since the unequivocal goal of BDS is to force Israel to abide by international law, what Shayshon seems to be saying by implication is that Israel cannot exist within the confines of international law. I would never make such an argument but it does explain the recent aggressive “lawfare” campaign taking aim at the very existence of these laws.
One last point: if supporting boycotts against a place means supporting its annihilation (the claim being made here and elsewhere), what precisely are we to make of the Gaza seige, infinitely more brutal than anything BDS advocates? Does that mean Israel is denying the right of Gaza to exist?
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$7 million muzzling shocker- Canadian government cuts off funds for church group it calls anti-Semitic

Despite a 35-year collaboration, the Canadian church group KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, “one of Canada’s most respected and important charitable organizations,” was stunned when their likely routine 7 million dollar request for the human rights program was denied by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). But they were even more surprised when they discovered why: although the group’s board had made public their opposition to sanctions and boycotts against Israel 2 years earlier, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a speech he gave this week in Israel charged the group with being anti-Semitic for “taking a leadership role in the boycott.” Kenney, speaking at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, said they were “defunding” groups as part of their new “zero-tolerance” approach to anti-Semitism.  (Read the full text of his speech here. )

In his speech, Kenney included in a list of acts of anti-Semitism, like the spray-painting of swastikas on a Canadian Holocaust memorial, the spray-painting of the phrase “Stop the Israeli genocide in Gaza”.

Anti-human rights/Israel lobby group NGO Monitor built an extensive dossier on KAIROS– which represents Canada’s Mennonites, the Anglican, United and Catholic Churches and does work in some of the poorest regions of the world.

Kairos came under fire for co-sponsoring, along with 50 other groups, an international Sabeel conference in 2005 on morally responsible investment. (Sabeel is “an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians,” and Jewish Voice for Peace frequently co-sponsors Sabeel conferences here in the United States.)

In this comprehensive and thoughtful 2008 strategy paper on using “economic advocacy measures… to advance peace between Palestinians and Israelis, ” KAIROS said:

KAIROS affirms the desire of the Israeli people for a secure homeland, recognizing the long, terrible and continuing history of anti-Semitism, and the vital role of Israel to Jewish people around the world. KAIROS also recognizes the great suffering of the Palestinian people, many of whom live as refugees in surrounding countries, and others who have lived under Occupation for 40 years, and affirms their right to a secure and viable homeland. KAIROS calls for an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories and for two secure states based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

They also explicitly rejected “sanctions against Israel” and “a boycott of products from Israel.” But in line with the universal recognition of the illegality of settlements, they did also advocate for things like:

limiting the geographical applicability of Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to within the 1967 borders of the State of Israel; and

enforcing a certification of origin for goods coming from settlements in the Occupied Palestinians Territories;   

and, almost identical to the Presbyterian Church USA’s strategy:

That where KAIROS members opt to pursue shareholder action respecting Canadian companies doing business in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories (that are contributing directly or indirectly to violence, occupation or other human rights abuses in the region), shareholder action shall move through several stages, from dialogue with senior company management to filing shareholder proposals and, as a last resort, divestment. 

So, after so much thoughtful and sensitive delving into ways to responsibly use economic pressure and investment, what did they get for their troubles? Charges of anti-Semitism.
(At Jewish Voice for Peace, where we have devised a similarly nuanced approach to economic pressure that works for us, choosing to focus on companies that profit from the occupation, or groups that fund settlements, we’ve seen from day one how pro-occupation groups purposefully and immediately ignore the facts, and raise the urgent flag of anti-Semitism as a strategy to kill virtually any resistance activity that goes beyond nicely asking the Israeli government to stop violating international law. Ironically, as they deny more and more people the right to boycott settlement goods only, they leave them with no choice but to boycott all Israeli products. )

A KAIROS official responded in The Star:

“It’s a horrible charge to make, and to do it with so little thought cheapens the reality of anti-Semitism in the world and diminishes the very careful attention that it deserves,” said United Church spokesperson Bruce Gregersen. “We’re quite disappointed in the government on this.

“The policies of KAIROS have all been approved by the collective board of KAIROS, so in a sense what Mr. Kenney is doing is accusing Canadian churches of being anti-Semitic and I think that’s really unfortunate,”

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NGO Monitor’s campaign to silence dissent in Israel

We’ve covered NGO Monitor’s strategy to weaken the human rights infrastructure because they regard it as essentially a plot against Israel, rather than a necessary part of a healthy and functioning civil society. Israel’s Didi Remez sounds the alarm on their latest efforts to sideline human rights organizations through enacting new laws.

Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, and his associates in government, have entered a new phase in their campaign to suppress Israeli human rights NGOs. This morning (November 27 2009) Haaretz’s English edition ran an op-ed by Steinberg. No longer satisfied with de-legitimization, Israeli neoconservatives have begun taking concrete parliamentary action to silence internal dissent.

As Steinberg writes

For over a decade, European governments have been major sources of funding for dozens of Israeli and Palestinian organizations claiming to promote human rights and similar moral causes. While these groups are known as “nongovernmental organizations,” or NGOs, they are, in fact, selected and nurtured by foreign governments. And as seen in research to be discussed in a Knesset conference on December 1, their agendas are more political than moral.

With little acknowledgment that Israel was built and is in many ways maintained by international funds, in his campaign against human rights groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, he calls for a new Israeli law to demand full “transparency” for donated funds coming from the EU in particular.

Predictably enough, as Remez points out in his response in Ha’aretz, Steinberg holds up Israeli human rights groups for opprobrium, but has nothing to say about the numerous US based NGOs which fund overtly illegal settlement activity (See Akiva Eldar’s recent piece on the growing backlash against U.S. tax-breaks for law-breaking 501c3s, and hear Akiva on Beyond the Pale radio).  The gutting of human rights organizations, I’m fairly certain, is not what our grandparents had in mind when they imagined the creation of a Jewish state.

Didi’s op-ed on Haaretz is worth reading in full:

Bring on the transparency

Op-ed, Didi Remez, Haaretz, November 27 2009

The government of Israel is waging an aggressive campaign to suppress internal dissent. Most of its targets have been organizations operating in the occupied territories, and the campaigners would have us believe that they are acting in the interest of “national security.” However, a closer look indicates that they are motivated by a general disrespect for the role of civil society in a democracy. Any NGO in the government’s way seems to have become fair game; indeed, officials have even started calling refugee-aid groups a fifth column.

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