Statement on Im Tirzu

im tirzu logoPartners for Progressive Israel condemns in the strongest terms the recent campaign of character assassination carried on by the Israeli organization Im Tirzu against the leaders of four Israeli Human Rights organizations, among them B’tselem and Breaking the Silence.  We proudly associate ourselves with the declarations of our sister organizations Peace Now, T’ruah, Ameinu, ARZA, and the New Israel Fund against the Im Tirzu campaign and we express our appreciation of the Meretz party for its defense of these organizations and of free speech and human rights in Israel.  The naming of four leaders of these organizations and the publication of their pictures with labels denouncing them as foreign agents and accessories to terrorism is a blatant lie and an invitation to physical violence against them.  These are the tactics that resulted in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin twenty years ago; and these are the same tactics used by totalitarian parties of the right in Europe in the inter-war period in their successful campaigns to destroy democracy in Italy and Germany.

In view of this serious threat the complicit silence of Prime Minister Netanyahu is ominous.  The Prime Minister, then in the opposition, notoriously was silent during slanderous depictions of Itzhak Rabin as a traitor just prior to his assassination in 1995.  We note with alarm that Mr. Netanyahu has just yesterday even faced down calls by Leader of the Opposition Herzog to condemn similar kinds of incitement against President Rivlin who, although himself a figure of the political Right, had the decency to address the HaaretzQ Conference in New York and salute that newspaper for being the beacon of democratic practice in Israel that it has been over the years.  In reply to Herzog the Prime Minister demanded that Herzog in turn associate himself with the present effort in Israel to scapegoat the organization of IDF Veterans, Breaking the Silence, which publishes testimonies by Israeli soldiers about what actions they were required to take in fighting Israel’s wars and carrying on its brutal military occupation of the Palestinians.

Partners for Progressive Israel is proud to support Breaking the Silence, B’tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and HaMoked as flagship organizations that defend the best qualities Israeli society has to offer.  We call upon the Prime Minister of Israel to repudiate Im Tirzu, require it to reveal the sources of its funding, and dismiss those of his Ministers or others in his government who support its actions.  We call upon American Jewish leaders, in particular those in the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, who were quick to denounce the leader of Israel’s Arab bloc in the Knesset for the simple refusal to meet with them in the offices of the Jewish Agency, to join with us in condemning this much more serious breach of democratic practice which invites violence against leaders of human rights and peace organizations in Israel.