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Knesset approves probe against leftist groups
Yisrael Beiteinu's proposal to set up parliamentary inquiry commission into funding of leftist human right groups which 'encourage draft-dodging, label IDF soldiers and commanders war criminals.' Leftist lawmakers slam 'McCarthyism' and 'political persecution.' Deputy FM Ayalon: This about protecting Israel
The Knesset approved on Wednesday Yisrael Beiteinu's motion to establish a parliamentary inquiry commission into the funding of leftist organizations in Israel.
The initiative, which was proposed by Knesset Member Faina Kirshenbaum, was approved by a majority of 47 MKs, while 16 voted against it.
Kirshenbaum's motion says a coalition of international organizations has been working under the guise of human rights advocacy in order to take away the IDF's legitimacy in the West Bank, encourage draft-dodging, and label soldiers and commanders war criminals.
Leftist factions accused Yisrael Beiteinu and other rightist parties of "McCarthyism bordering on an attempt to muzzle" the leftist human rights organizations, but the Right said "it is our duty to protect our soldiers' right to defend the State of Israel."
"I suggest these organizations address human rights in Sderot and Ofakim, or women's rights," Kirshenbaum said. "They (leftist groups) encourage draft-dodging, say that enlisting in the army is immoral and transfer material that will lead to the arrest of people such as Tzipi Livni, Doron Almog and Moshe Yaalon."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, also of Yisrael Beiteinu, said during the heated debate "we are talking about protecting IDF soldiers, the judicial system and the State of Israel from the manipulations of elements inside Israel."
MK Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz said the motion marked a "new low point" for the Knesset. "The Knesset's budget is being used here for political persecution. You are hurting Israeli democracy. This is a campaign of silencing and blocking criticism," he said.
MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) said in response to the vote "this is a sad day for Israeli democracy. The Netanyahu government is using the Knesset for its political purposes and for silencing. This takes us back to dark era in history, because those who delegitimize certain groups also delegitimize the State of Israel's existence."
Later the Knesset passed another motion calling to investigate organizations which purchase land in Israel. The motion was filed by MK Danny Danon (Likud).
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) slammed both motions, saying McCarthyism "started just as it is starting here – with organizations. Later it spread to the cinema and culture and wiped out people such as Charlie Chaplin, Bertolt Brecht and others. We must follow this path."
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) said, "This is a proposal of (Avigdor) McCarthy Lieberman. This is a dark day for the Knesset. Another dark day."
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