The lights of Hanukkah just went out, but statements and initiatives against NGO’s fighting for human rights in Israel and in Palestinian territories already darken the political climate in Israel. President Reuven Rivlin himself is not spared by the extreme right representatives who blame him for participating to the Conference organized by Haaretz on December 13th in New York, Conference also attended by a representative of the organization “Breaking the Silence“. Some ask him to resign, others even call him a “fuhrer“. Today, the most violent attacks focus on “Breaking the Silence“. Created ten years ago by Veterans returned from their military service in the occupied territories, this NGO wants to raise the Israeli public awareness of the reality of occupation and of the moral price paid by young soldiers in order to maintain a civilian population under control. Like most NGO’s fighting for human rights, “Breaking the Silence“ receives funds from foreign governments and from international institutions. The source of this financing is not undercover and is released on their website. Which is not the case for extreme right associations whicn get huge amounts of money from private individuals, mostly American Jewish billionaires, or from fundamentalist Christian movements supporting colonization, some even calling for the building of a Third Temple, prelude to the coming of the Messiah, according to them.
These last days, a new step has been reached in the attacks against “Breaking the Silence“ and against three other NGO’s also fighting against the occupation (B’Tselem, Public Committee against Torture and Hamoked, Center for the Defence of the Individual). “Im tirtzu[i]“, an extreme right organization, has circulated on social networks a video showing a Palestinian armed with a knife, running towards the camera, thus attacking the viewer. In the background appear the pictures of four persons in charge of these NGO’s with their names, the commentator explaining that this terrorist is protected by these “moles paid by other countries who live among us“.
Along with these attacks on the social networks, Naphtali Bennett, Education minister, has prohibited representatives of “Breaking the Silence“ from participating to debates as before. Moreover, Moshe Ya’alon, Defense minister, has prohibited them from entering army bases. And Ayelet Shaked, minister of Justice, is preparing a law that will force all NGO’s receiving funds from foreign governments to mention it on their official documents. Their representatives will be also required to wear a badge with that indication in the Knesset.
Voices are rising up in Israel in reaction to these attacks against “Breaking the Silence“, such as Yuval Diskin and Ami Ayalon, Former Directors of the Shin Bet, or Amiran Levin’s, retired General who was commander of the IDF Northern Command. For many years he served in Saayeret Matkal, was its commander, and was involved in some of its prominent actions. Levin also served as deputy of the Mossad Director. They all recognize the importance of the activity of NGO’s like “Breaking the Silence“ for controlling the actions of the army and those of the various security services in the territories. “We may not like them, says Yuval Diskin, but they are an important part of any democracy and they help maintain the required vigilance on the most sensitive issues.“
We condemn the government projects regarding the NGO ‘s fighting for human rights because they endanger the Israeli democracy. We strongly condemn this new offensive of the extreme right movements on the social networks which, by identifying by name the leading figures of these NGO’s as traitors infiltrated into the Israeli society, list them as targets for extremists. We just commemorated the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s death, and we must not forget that he had also been listed as a traitor to be eliminated. The actual political climate begins to look very similar to the one prevailing before November 4th, 1995. Let us join forces before it is too late.
[i] If you want it