Ben-Dror Yemini was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel in 1954. He studied Humanities and History in Tel Aviv University, and later on he studies Law. After his university studies, he was appointed advisor to the Israeli Minister of Immigration Absorption and then became the spokesman of the Ministry. In 1984, he began his career as a journalist and essayist. He worked as a lawyer and was a partner in a law firm. He has worked for the daily newspaper Maariv, and in Spring 2014 began writing for the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The author of "The Industry of Lies."
Sat Jan 16, 2016 12:17 pm A wakeup call for the left - By Ben-Dror Yemini
A wakeup call for the left
Over the past few years, some left-wing activists have been going down a dangerous path. They're not against the occupation, they're against Israel. They don't deal with criticism, but in demonization. They're not against the settlements, but against a Jewish and democratic state. It's time for self-criticism.
By Ben-Dror Yemini
January 15, 2016
To my friends on the left-wing, this is a wakeup call. Ezra Nawi's story was supposed to set off the warning bells. It didn't. If you keep on with the regular chorus of "this is an attack on left-wing organizations," you will be doing a great service for the extreme right-wing.
When did anyone level relevant criticism against you? If your automatic reaction has been for many years to cry out "fascism" or "a danger to democracy," and never really address the issue at hand, then something has gone completely wrong with you, because this is the way to close yourselves off, it's not the way to deal with it. After all, most of the automatic reactions to the "Uvda" investigative report focused on the program itself and not the things it exposed. You've been praising exposés for years, and all of a sudden you're against them? What happened?
Zehava Galon, the political leader of the left, paid lip service by condemning Nawi, but claimed that "Uvda on Thursday joined the orchestrated and institutionalized campaign against the left and against left-wing organizations." Nawi, let us assume, does not represent you. Galon does. From here on out, every uncovering of price tag activities will, according to Galon's logic, turn into a "campaign against the right and right-wing organizations." That's a shame. Such logic does not distance Nawi from the left, it brings them together.
A prevailing mood
The main argument that was made was that even if Nawi was wrong, he and left-wing organizations are, at the end of the day, doing holy work against the injustices of the occupation. I wish. The reality is that in recent years, some left-wing activists have been going down a dangerous path. They're not opposing the occupation, they're opposing the State of Israel. They're not dealing in criticism, but in demonization. They're not against the settlement enterprise, they're against a Jewish and democratic state.
This isn't about just one person. This is about a prevailing mood in some left-wing organizations. Five years ago, it was revealed that Hedva Radanovitz, the deputy director of the New Israel Fund, told the American Embassy that she "was not worried about not having a Jewish state, because that would make it more democratic." That should have sounded off the warning bells, but it didn't. Radanovitz found her place in another organization, Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights.
Lizzie Sagi, a former senior official in B'Tselem, wrote that "Israel causes humanity's greatest horrors ... Israel proves devotion to Nazi values." She had to leave B'Tselem. She too found herself a new home at the Human Rights Defenders Fund, a subsidiary of the Yesh Din NGO.
The executive director of the Fund is Alma Biblash, who called Israel "racist and murderous" and "an apartheid Jewish state that is temporary." She also supports the right to destroy Israel, which hides under the guise of the "right of return." Biblash takes it one step further and calls for "a struggle of Israelis, Palestinians and the international community against the Israeli regime." And this is where the punch line is: What is the struggle for? To "put an end to the occupation from the Jordan to the sea." Yes, even Tel Aviv is occupied territory. And we'll have a wonderful time here under Palestinian rule. Just like in Syria there is wonderful harmony and peace among nations.
A year ago, a researcher in B'Tselem, Atef Abu a-Rub, was revealed to be a Holocaust denier, so it's reasonable to suspect his motivation in providing materials to B'Tselem. Some of the leaders of the organization over the past decade, Prof. Anat Biletzki and Prof. Oren Yiftachel, are avid supporters of the "right of return." Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, a member of B'Tselem's Public Council, claimed that "Israel is worse than the Nazi regime," and that "it's not enough to speak about the monster. Something has to be done." He has nothing to do with Nashat Melhem, who went out and did something, but if that is not an encouragement to violence, then I don't know what is.
Ties to BDS
This week, Yifat Erlich uncovered, in this very paper, the ties between Alon Liel and Breaking the Silence. Liel is leading the international anti-Israel campaign in the service of the Palestinian demand to be recognized as a state. He knows, and certainly should know, that the Palestinians are turning to the international community because they refuse to accept the formula of two states to two peoples. He knows they're insisting on a "mass right of return," which means the destruction of Israel. He's not promoting peace, he's bolstering Palestinian intransigence. He wants to turn Israel into South Africa, a boycotted and leprous apartheid state, "and then, as soon as there is recognition that this is unbearable, things will start moving," he explains. And he's trying to pave the way for Breaking the Silence.
He doesn't have to work hard. Contrary to the repeated claims of the organization, they receive financial aid from, and cooperate with, organizations that support the BDS movement, like, for example, the Irish Trócaire Fund. But they keep telling us that they're not part of the boycott campaign. Who do they think they're fooling? They had a mentor even before Liel, Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan. She has a long history of horrifying comments. For example, "All of the sickening characteristics the anti-Semitic world attributes to Jews exist in the leaders of the State of Israel." This is no longer anti-Zionism, it is fully-fledged shameful anti-Semitism.
And if we think it can’t possibly get any worse, then we are wrong. The NGO Yesh Din is employing a blogger that just last month wrote on his personal blog that Israel is a "murderous Jewish theocracy," and that's why "the Jewish state will have to be destroyed with blood and fire, so it could be rebuilt as a democratic state." Even BDS activists, who dream of the destruction of Israel, are slightly more moderate in their words.
Time for self-criticism
There are plenty of other comments like this coming from distinctly anti-Zionist organizations and activists. I only presented those that came from activists of organizations funded by the New Israel Fund. They're supposed to operate according to the Fund’s rules and guidelines, which underwent a positive change several years ago following public criticism. But rules and reality aside. These organizations also raise claims that are true. They expose wrongs and injustices. But when the political agenda is not about fixing and improving, but rather about the dissemination of hatred and the aspiration for the destruction of Israel, it's a bit hard to take their exposés seriously.
There are serious people sitting at the top of these organizations, and at the top of the New Israel Fund. The very flesh and blood of the national-Zionist struggle. And that's the problem. The fact that A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Gila Almagor and generals in reserves attach their names to these organizations, places a responsibility on them. They're in the same boat. Instead of denunciating these wild thorns, that long for the destruction of Israel and preach fighting against it, they are turning into ostriches, burying their heads in the sand - they see nothing, smell nothing, hear nothing. Do good Jews around the world, who donate to the New Israel Fund, know what is happening in their names and with their money?
This is a call to the Zionist left. There's a need to fight for a just and more moral Israel. There's a need to fight for peace, separation, or a diplomatic accord. There's a need to fight against the continuation of the settlement enterprise, which is leading Israel towards a future of one big state that will be neither Jewish nor democratic. But your ties to too many activists and senior officials who portray Israel as the Nazi monster only serves to encourage the loathing of the left. And quite rightly so. Demonization is not criticism. Calling for the destruction of the Jewish state does not require interpretation. Why aren't you speaking up? Why should sane Israelis, who support peace, join your camp, which legitimizes the insane hatred of the very existence of Israel?
The Nawi affair is another opportunity for self-criticism. For your sake, for our sake, don't lose this opportunity as well.