At the beginning of the week, Peace Now released a report on construction plans beyond the Green Line, mostly in a very sensitive and controversial area, E1, near Jerusalem. This is a very important report. The Israeli public must know about construction plans beyond the Green Line. Those who support one big state will rejoice and welcome the plans. Those who are against turning Israel into a binational state will be horrified. I am among the latter.
Not many hours passed before Prime Minister's Office issued an official statement: “When he served as Minister of Housing, Ariel ordered some theoretical plans for development of E1. He did this on his own initiative and without approval. The Ministry of Housing has no authority to plan or build beyond the Green Line. The plans in question have no binding status." The quick response was important. The international outcry, at least this time, was dampened before it even broke out.
It's not that there isn't any construction beyond the Green Line. Of course there is. And as part of the binational project, there's also construction outside the main blocs. But the Prime Minister's Office is sensitive when it comes to international criticism. We need to welcome that. What is interesting, though, is that the Prime Minister's statement was published in English only. Hebrew readers should know about it too.
Right-wing NGOs’ anonymous donorsUri Zakai, from Meretz, released reports this week about the donations made to three right-wing NGOs: Honenu, Regavim, and Im Tirzu. Some of the pages were empty. Why is that? Because the names of some of the donors remained confidential, with approval from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits. MK Dov Khenin also wanted to read out the list of donors to the Ir David Foundation, which enjoyed a lot of donations. Instead of reading out the list, he remained silent. There are confidential donors there as well. It's all legal, but it reeks.
This only serves to emphasize the fact that the NGO bill proposal approved by the government this week is harmful, discriminatory, and unnecessary. Transparency is an important thing, but when some of the right-wing NGOs get special authorization to hide their sources of funding - the demand for transparency is an excuse that is beyond pathetic. And when they claim that there's a difference between foreign governments funding left-wing NGOs and private funding for right-wing NGOs - it's an even more of a pathetic excuse. Because the interests of states are obvious and public, even if they are wrong. The interests of private individuals might be far more dangerous. According to the legislation's logic, if an NGO receives funding from a Saudi millionaire that also funds Hamas, it could hide the source.
There's need for a law regulating the donations to all NGOs, on the left and right, both on the issue of transparency and on the issue of objectives. Primarily, transparency needs to include all sources of funding. Secondly, donations from sources that nurture racism, discrimination and the right of return, who aid the BDS movement, or who deny Israel's right to exist as both as Jewish and democratic state - must be barred. And it doesn't matter if it's Saudi Arabia or Sweden, a right wing donor or a leftist one. And thirdly, we need to adopt the rules used by civilized states. We'll get back to that.
It's not too late to fix the legislation. We must hope the members of Knesset do the right thing.
Suspending the Human Rights ActIn light of the increasing threat of legal suits against soldiers who took part in the war against terror, the defense minister announced he intends to suspend the Human Rights Act, which includes answering to the European Convention on Human Rights. This did not happen in Israel - it came from the British Secretary of State for Defense, Michael Fallon. There are human rights activists there too, a local version of Breaking the Silence, who are collecting testimony against British soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, they are called "ambulance chasers," a derogatory term reserved to property damage lawyers, who chase after ambulances transporting car accident victims.
The human rights act, Fallon explained, “inhibits the operational effectiveness of our troops because they start to worry about whether they will end up in a court or not." And just so there's no doubt about it, a spokesman from the Defense Secretary's Office issued a statement that says: "We will ensure our Armed Forces overseas are not subject to persistent legal claims that undermine their ability to do their job."
There was no outcry in the British press, nor protests or claims made of fascism - not over the intention to suspend an important law, nor for the derogatory term used against lawyers who represent those hurt by the British Military. Quite the opposite. Following Fallon's statement, The Telegraph printed an unsigned editorial titled "Britain's soldiers need the legal freedom to fight." "Human rights are critical," the editorial stated. "Nevertheless, the fight against terrorism should not be undermined by those who would hamstring the troops with petty and vexatious claims."
It's safe to assume that if this had happened in Israel, half the world, including Britain, would've painted Israel as a state trying to cover up war crimes. But not to worry. Lawyers in London will continue trying to file lawsuits against Israel over war crimes, and Breaking the Silence's activists, of course, will be received there with open arms. And that's not all. In the past, Britain funded the Israeli organization. If anyone thought there was a limit to double standards, think again.
And something else: Is there a chance of Sweden or France funding a British organization that gathers claims of war crimes against British soldiers? The answer is obvious. It's time that the things that are obvious between Sweden and Britain are made obvious between Sweden and Israel as well. And if this is not achieved diplomatically, there will be no choice but to take the legislative path.
Jewish terrorism encouraging Arab terrorism?The video from the "wedding of hate" was aired on Wednesday's news broadcast. The very next morning, it was a political commentator on Israel Radio - public radio - who thought he still has a chance to spew out his political views. "In my humble opinion," he said, "Arab terrorism encourages Jewish terrorism." He is of course against Jewish terrorism. He's only explaining it and helping understand it. There's no need to provide explanations or to try to understand it, not the Jewish underground of the early 80s, Baruch Goldstein in the 90s, or the "price tag" hooligans in recent years. An understanding of this kind is more suitable for Baruch Marzel, not a political commentator on public radio.
The truth is that the commentator said something completely different: "Jewish terrorism encourages Arab terrorism." And that's interesting. Because support for Jewish terrorism is next to nonexistent. Yes, there are several hundreds of hooligans from the extreme right wing in Israel, and it's safe to assume they have several thousands of supporters, and if we exaggerate, we'll reach something that is less than one percent of the population. Compared to that, Palestinian support of the current wave of terrorism - meaning, slaughtering Jews with knives - is at 67 percent. Even Mahmoud Abbas stresses this is a "justified popular unrest." When a Jew is murdered in a terror attack, candy is being handed out on the Palestinian street. However, when a Palestinian child is murdered by a Jew, and this happens on average once every few years, 99 percent of Israelis are shocked, condemn it, and are feeling remorse. So saying Jewish terrorism encourages Arab terrorism is like saying an ant can carry an elephant.