Right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu has been embroiled in controversy recently after launching a campaign that exposed 20 Israeli NGOs that it alleges are involved in anti-Israel activity and receive funding from European governments, including Breaking the Silence, New Israel Fund (NIF), Rabbis for Human Rights, +972 Mag, and several others.
A video (see above) released by Im Tirtzu last week called The Foreign Agents – Revealed! depicts a Palestinian terrorist stabbing the viewer, claiming that Israeli leaders of human rights organizations are “moles” that work with foreign countries against Israel’s counter-terrorism agenda. The video accuses the Israeli activists, saying they “fight us while we fight terror,” and calls on viewers to sign a petition to outlaw the 20 organizations.
The clip has sparked harsh criticism and condemnation in its wake, including from Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog who said the video “spilled the blood of Israeli activists,” and also the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) whose CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said it constitutes “incitement which clearly crosses over into hate speech.”
Herzog also called upon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the video. “Take responsibility, tell Im Tirtzu that its video is beyond the ‘separation wall’ of what is acceptable in our democratic society,” he said. “Stop those who stain your whole camp with hate.”
In Canada, an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism and its Canadian Council, ARZA Canada, which works “to realize the vision of Reform Zionism,” has condemned the video as a dangerous threat to Israeli citizens’ security and civil rights.
“Im Tirtzu’s actions are a direct threat to Israel’s democracy and contrary to Israel’s founding vision,” the organization said in a press release. “In these turbulent and dangerous times, words of incitement from Im Tirtzu can have tragic consequences for both the safety of the NGO workers and their supporters amongst Israeli citizens. Moreover, this video adds to a growing culture of incitement within Israel and the Palestinian territories — one that is strengthened by divisive and irresponsible statements by government ministers and Members of the Knesset — which is already leading to violence.”
ARZA Canada has called for a united stand by the Canadian Jewish community to “reject these dangerous activists and to see them for what they are: a grave threat to Israel’s future perpetrating dangerous acts of incitement. Im Tirtzu must be denounced without reservation.”
In Israel, meanwhile, the NGOs on Im Tirtzu’s list have already experienced a backlash, particularly Breaking the Silence. Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon banned the organization from entering IDF camps or even engaging with soldiers, while education minister Naftali Bennett banned the organization from operating within Israel’s school system.
Im Tirtzu has also sent letters to over 100 people who donate to the left-wing NIF, asking that they demand that it break ties with “organizations that defame us IDF soldiers… [and with] organizations which protect terrorists.”
“The damage that the New Israel Fund, in particular, is doing to the country, is that it is giving legitimacy to and claiming that extreme left-wing movements and organizations that actually harm the country, are Zionist,” Im Titzur CEO Matan Peleg said during an interview with Israel’s Arutz Sheva. “The donors in America may not know all the details of what each organization does, and when the NIF presents itself as a Zionist fund for donating money to help Israel but they use this money donated to give it to organizations that harm Israel, that is a problem.”
On Saturday, some 3,000 Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv in a protest titled, “Standing together against a government that incites instead of offering solutions, against the far-right’s attempts to silence and intimidate, from inside the government and from outside.”