The head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, spoke out recently against the initiative calling for a parliamentary inquiry to investigate the funding sources of leftist organizations in Israel. He believes that while there is a need to restrict their activities, it should be done through legislative measures – and not by turning politicians into inquisitors.
Rabbi Sherlo was asked about the issue on his yeshiva's website. He expressed his fundamentally positive attitude towards the organizations: "I don't see these organizations as the enemy, I see them as someone who is constructing an important foundation within Israeli society…Israel's prophets were the first human rights organizations in Israel."
In his view, each movement – essential and justified as it may be – needs a counter group to limit it, liberal national movements do this.
Yet the rabbi also wrote that organizations dealing with human rights often need to be "saved from themselves". He explained that in some cases, these are actually political movements in disguise or organizations operating as emissaries for Israel's enemies. According to the rabbi, they aren't interested in making us more righteous or ethical; they are trying to completely shatter our society.
The rabbi offers another argument – that of hypocrisy, when many movements work for human rights in only one direction: "They fight for freedom of worship, but not for Jews' rights to be liberated from the disgrace of the prevention of being allowed to pray on the temple mount; they also stood silent when the human rights of the displaced persons from Gush Katif were severely injured."
He stressed that "we too mustn't only fight against police brutality when we are the injured party and remain silent when it is directed at others; we too mustn't fight for our rights to freedom of speech but become indifferent when it is prevented from others."
Law is Law
In his opinion, the solution lies in forcing, through legislation, the organizations to operate with complete transparency for the sake of revealing the purity of their and their supporters' intentions. "The statements are mainly directed at the donations received from foreign countries and various international organizations," he wrote. Sherlo believes that the move will eventually help the organizations themselves by allowing them to operate without being seen as enemy agents.
He also called for clear legislation on what is allowed and forbidden – while maintaining the maximum level of liberty and freedom in order to prevent the "tyranny of the international majority in donations to local organizations". He explained that some of the human rights movements make an ironic use of the tyranny of the global majority to hurt the human rights of the minority, in this case – the State of Israel.
"A Knesset inquiry committee isn't the tool needed to deal with these issues" Rabbi Sherlo concluded.
"The Knesset isn't a judicative or investigative institution; those looking for justice and truth must not combine political aggression in the framework of examining whether a certain movement is properly funded or not. The Knesset's intervention as a political investigatory element ensures that the deliberations won't be matter of fact, and will be exploited in a way that endangers us all."
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