A Stain Upon Israel

JVL Introduction

The title is that of a Ha’aretz editorial – appalled at the Israeli government’s declaration of six prominent and internationally respected civil society organisations in the West Bank as terrorist organizations.

Such actions, says Ha’aretz, not pulling its punches, “are quintessential characteristics of military regimes, in which democracy in its deepest sense is a dead letter.”

It is followed by a statement by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who work closely with many of the groups, seeing “This appalling and unjust decision [a]s an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement.”

We await strong condemnation of this development by the Labour Party and, if they stand up for human rights at all, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Labour Movement.


25 Oct: we have added a statement from Israel from Academy for Equality,an organization of over seven hundred members of the academic community, committed to promoting a just and democratic future.

This article was originally published by Ha'aretz editorial on Sun 24 Oct 2021. Read the original here.

A Stain Upon Israel

The government’s declaration of civil society organizations in the West Bank as terrorist organizations is a destructive folly that tarnishes all of the parties in the coalition and the state itself. The outlawing of human rights groups and persecution of humanitarian activists are quintessential characteristics of military regimes, in which democracy in its deepest sense is a dead letter.

The order signed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz designates six organizations as terror organizations, as follows: Addameer offers legal aid to prisoners, collects data on incarcerations, including so-called administrative detentions – without trial – and acts to end torture.

Al-Haq which documents violations of Palestinian human rights in the occupied territories. The Palestine branch of Defense for Children International monitors the killing of children and the wellbeing of children imprisoned in Israel.

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees aids Palestinian farmers, mainly in Area C of the West Bank, which under the Oslo Accords is under full Israeli control. Also included are the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Bisan Center for Research & Development. The intention is clear: Israel will fight these organizations as it fights terror.

From now on, there is no distinction between those waging a violent struggle against the state and hurting innocent civilians, on one hand, and on the other hand lawyers in human rights organizations who give prisoners legal aid or leftist activists in organizations that oppose torture, protect women and children and their rights or document human rights violation in the territories. Now, anyone affiliated with such an organization is akin to a terrorist.

There is a straight line from defining the nonviolent struggle against the occupation as “diplomatic terror” and designating human rights groups as terrorist organizations. The literal meaning is clear: All resistance to the occupation is terror. Israel is undermining the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate struggle.

This is a boon to terrorist organizations and the use of violence. If all forms of resistance constitute terror, how can one resist the occupation without being a terrorist? It’s not clear what Gantz was thinking when he signed the order.

Is he, like Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, flirting with an imaginary right-wing electorate, dreaming of the day he’ll be crowned to lead the right after Benjamin Netanyahu? Is it an attempt to counterbalance his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which gave him a leftist taint?

In any case, it’s indicative of complete confusion, which positions the so-called ‘change government’ in the extreme right and turns the participation in it of leftist and centrist parties into a joke.

If this is the change the government is leading and these are its political colors, it’s not clear how its continued defense in the name of a fear of the alternative of another election can be justified. We can only hope that in the absence of internal resistance, the harsh U.S. reprimand and request for clarifications will end this shameful move.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

Israel/Palestine: Designation of Palestinian Rights Groups as Terrorists

A statement by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

Attack on the Human Rights Movement

(New York) – The Israeli Defense Ministry on October 19, 2021, issued a military order declaring six Palestinian civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to be “terrorist organizations.” The groups are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees. The designation, made pursuant to a 2016 Israeli statute, effectively outlaws the activities of these civil society groups. It authorizes Israeli authorities to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest and jail their staff members, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who work closely with many of the groups, said in a joint statement:

“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have faced deportation and travel bans, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.

How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”

Hebrew and Arabic below

A4E’s position regarding the Israeli defense minister’s declaration on Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist

Academy for Equality is an organization of over seven hundred members of the academic community, committed to promoting a just and democratic future. Academy for equality expresses its unreserved support for the Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations targeted by the deplorable decision of Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, to declare them as terrorist organizations in order to ban their activities by decree.

Benny Gantz, as Chief of Staff of the Israeli military, commanded operations in which Israeli military forces have killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians, among them five hundred children under the age of 15, during the campaign known as “Zuk Eitan ” (“Solid rock”). Now, as defense minister, he has declared 6 prominent human rights and civil society organizations as designated terrorist organizations. The work of human rights organizations targeted by Gantz’s decree, such as Addameer and DCI-Palestine, is to defend the rights of detainees arrested by Israeli security forces and held for months without trial or due process, political activists persecuted for their beliefs or political organizing, and to provide legal defense for children arrested in the wee hours of the night. Other organizations targeted by Gantz’s decree are the Women Committees and Agricultural Committees – who struggle with the tasks of building Palestinian communities’ social and economic infrastructure; and Al-Haq, which follows and monitors the occupation’s atrocities, documents and disseminates information in Israel/Palestine and worldwide. Another targeted organization is the Bisan Research Center, dedicated to the development of an open, free and democratic Palestinian society, that has devoted decades of work to the improvement of devastated and impoverished communities by offering educational opportunities and capacities.

We in Academia for Equality, alongside our comrades from Scientists for Palestine, stood in solidary with the Bisan Center and its director when he was persecuted and detained and when its offices were barraged by the Israeli military forces. We maintain our long-standing relations and connections with Addameer, particularly concerning the defense of Palestinian students, arrested because of their political and studential activities. These six organizations constitute the civil spinal cord of the Palestinian society; a society trying to keep a proud posture of dignity and pride under the adverse condition of a brutal Israeli occupation.

Academia for Equality stands unequivocally behind and alongside Palestinian civil society organization. We call the Israeli academic community to step out of its indifference, to sound the alarm bells and express active rejection and objection to the persecution of civil, human rights and community organizations. we call on the international academic community and demand their speedily intervention and to exert its pressure to cancel and recede these abject ban and declaration.


גילוי דעת בנוגע להכרזת שר הביטחון הישראלי על ארגוני החברה האזרחית הפלסטינית כארגוני טרור

אקדמיה לשוויון הוא ארגון של כשבע מאות חברות וחברים בקהילה האקדמית המחויבים לקידומו של עתיד דמוקרטי וצודק. ארגון אקדמיה לשוויון מביע תמיכה נחרצת בארגוני החברה האזרחית הפלסטינית ומוקיע את החלטת שר הביטחון, בני גנץ, להכריז עליהם כעל ארגוני טרור ולהוציאם אל מחוץ לחוק.

בני גנץ, אשר תחת פיקודו הרג הצבא הישראלי מאות רבות של אזרחים פלסטינים, ביניהם כחמש מאות ילדים מתחת לגיל 15 במהלך מסע ההרג המכונה “צוק איתן” לבדו, הכריז ביום שישי על שישה ארגוני חברה אזרחית פלסטיניים כעל ארגוני טרור. מדובר בארגוני זכויות אדם, כמו א-דמיר ו- DCI‏‏ פלסטין, העוסקים בהגנה על העצירים שאותם משליכה ישראל לכלא לחודשים ארוכים ללא משפט, על ילדים שנעצרים באישון לילה ועל פעילים פוליטיים הנרדפים על פעילותם. מדובר גם בארגונים – ועדות הנשים, הוועדות החקלאיות – העוסקים בתשתית הקהילתית והאזרחית הפלסטינית; בארגון אל-חק העוקב אחר עוולות הכיבוש, מתעד אותן ומציג אותן בפני העולם, וכן במוסד המחקרי הוותיק מרכז ביסאן, אשר שם לעצמו למטרה לפתח את התרבות הדמוקרטית והפתוחה בקרב החברה הפלסטינית ולקדם את השכבות המקופחות ביותר באמצעות השכלה ולימוד.

אנו באקדמיה לשוויון, ביחד עם חברינו מארגון ״מדענים למען פלסטין״, עמדנו לצדו של מרכז ביסאן כאשר מנהלו נרדף ונעצר וכאשר משרדיו נפרצו על ידי הצבא. אנחנו עומדים בקשר רב-שנים עם ארגון א-דמיר, בפרט בכל הנוגע להגנה על סטודנטים/ות שנעצרו ונכלאו בשל פעולותיהם/ן הפוליטיות במסגרת הסטודנטיאלית. ככלל, ששת הארגונים מהווים את חוט השדרה האזרחי של החברה הפלסטינית המנסה לשמור על גו זקוף ככל האפשר תחת תנאי הכיבוש הישראלי הדיקטטורי והאלים.

ארגון אקדמיה לשוויון ניצב באופן חד-משמעי לצד ארגוני החברה האזרחית הפלסטינית, קורא לקהילה האקדמית הישראלית לצאת מאדישותה, לזעוק ולהביע התנגדות פעילה לרדיפתם של ארגוני זכויות אדם וארגונים קהילתיים, ופונה לקהילה האקדמית הבינלאומית בדרישה להתערב במהירות ולהפעיל לחץ לביטול הגזרה.


موقف تجاه قرار وزير الدفاع الإسرائيلي بتصنيف مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الفلسطينية كمنظمات إرهابية

أكاديميون/ات من اجل المساواة هي منظمة تضم حوالي سبعمائة عضو\ة من المجتمع الأكاديمي الملتزمين بتعزيز مستقبل ديمقراطي وعادل. تعرب منظمة أكاديميون/ات من اجل المساواة عن دعمها الكامل لمؤسسات المجتمع المدني الفلسطينية وتدين قرار وزير الدفاع بني غانتس بتصنيفها كمنظمات إرهابية وحظرها قانونيًا.

يوم الجمعة الماضي قام بني غانتس،  والذي تحت قيادته قتل الجيش الإسرائيلي مئات من المدنيين الفلسطينيين، من ضمنهم خمسمائة طفل دون سن الخامسة عشر خلال العدوان على غزة الذي سمي بعملية “الجرف الصامد”، بتصنيف ستة مؤسسات مجتمع مدني فلسطينية على انها منظمات إرهابية.  والحديث يدور هنا عن منظمات حقوقية، مثل “الضمير” و”الحركة العالمية للدفاع عن الأطفال – فلسطين”، التي تعمل على حماية المعتقلين الذين يتم سجنهم من قبل إسرائيل لشهور طويلة دون محاكمة، والأطفال الذين يعتقلون في منتصف الليل، والنشطاء السياسيين الذين يتعرضون للاضطهاد بسبب نشاطاتهم. القرار يشمل منظمات اضافية – كاللجان النسائية، واللجان الزراعية – التي تنشط بقضايا المجتمع الفلسطيني والبنية التحتية المدنية؛ ومنظمة “الحق” التي ترصد وتوثق مظالم الاحتلال لتعرضها على العالم، وكذلك معهد البحث المخضرم “بيسان”، الذي يهدف إلى تطوير الثقافة الديمقراطية والمنفتحة في المجتمع الفلسطيني والى تقوية الطبقات الأضعف من خلال تعزيز التعليم والدراسة.

نحن، في منظمة أكاديميون من أجل المساواة، الى جانب شركائنا من منظمة علماء من أجل فلسطين، وقفنا إلى جانب مدير مركز “بيسان” عندما تعرض للاضطهاد والاعتقال واقتحام مكاتبه من قبل الجيش الاسرائيلي. لقد كنا أيضا على تواصل مع مؤسسة “الضمير” لسنوات عديدة، لا سيما فيما يتعلق بحماية الطلبة الذين تم اعتقالهم وسجنهم بسبب نشاطهم السياسي داخل الحرم الجامعي. عامة, تشكل هذه المنظمات الستة العمود الفقري المدني للمجتمع الفلسطيني, الذي يحاول الحفاظ على قامة منتصبة قدر الإمكان في ظل ظروف الاحتلال الإسرائيلي القامع والعنيف.

تدعم منظمة أكاديميون/ات من أجل المساواة مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الفلسطيني بشكل تام، وتدعو المجتمع الأكاديمي الإسرائيلي إلى الخروج من لامبالاته، وإطلاق صرخته وابداء معارضته لاضطهاد مؤسسات حقوق الإنسان والمجتمع المدني، وتطالب المجتمع الأكاديمي الدّولي إلى التدخل بسرعة والضغط من أجل إلغاء هذا القرار.



Comments (6)

  • Anti-fascist says:

    Hurrah for Haaretz! And yet people like Renton, HOPE not hate’s leaders and other windbags are signing up to the anti-Miller witch-hunt.

    Why don’t they denounce the injustices committed against the Palestinians by the repressive Israeli government?

  • Linda says:

    The Israeli government and the leadership of the UK’s Labour party seem to be sharing the same script!

    First, mislabel in the most extreme and emotional terms those who call your behaviour to account.

    Second, silence their voices, outlaw their people and destroy their organisations.

  • Jack T says:

    Linda, excellent comment.

    I would also add, blame others for that which you are guilty.

  • It is not necessary to dwell on the transparently thin excuse of the Israeli state for banning human rights groups, i.e. links with the PFLP. Even were that true, so what? The PFLP is a legitimate political organisation.

    However the true lesson to be derived from this naked attack on those who try to defend Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Territories is that it should finally show, to those who will not see, that there is no principled or fundamental difference between the Zionist ‘left’ and the Zionist ‘right’.

    If ever there was a reason for the Israeli Labour Party and Meretz (the old Mapam) to say enough is enough this surely is it. How can they possibly justify banning Defence of Children International – Palestine? which campaigns against the cruel treatment of those as young as 12?

    The fact that Merav Michaeli and Nitzan Horowitz prefer to keep their ministerial post on the grounds that Netanyahu is worse, should condemn them in the minds of any objective observer.

    I was long in a minority when I argued that there were only tactical differences between Labour and Revisionist Zionism, that they were 2 sides of the same coin. How can anyone today argue differently?

    We should only note that the ILP is the ‘sister party’ of the Jewish Labour Movement to note what the ‘antisemitism’ allegations were really about.

    The fact that Dave Renton, an ex-Marxist, could write a whole book about the ‘antisemitism’ campaign without one word of criticism of the JLM speaks volumes.

  • David Jones says:

    Does the Israeli government not realise that this allows yet another comparison to be made between it and the odious former apartheid government of South Africa, which, likewise, banned, outlawed or proscribed any civil organisation, NGO, etc., which it considered not to serve the “interests” of the state – sometimes whole groups of them at a time.

  • Allan Howard says:

    There’s lots of additional details in this piece on the Electronic Intifada’s website. For example:

    Some of the six targeted groups….. have cooperated closely with the International Criminal Court in its war crimes probe in the West Bank and Gaza.

    Israel has long sought to defame and sabotage the work of Palestinian human rights groups seeking an end to Israeli impunity while senior Israeli figures and lobby groups baselessly accuse these groups of “weaponizing” the ICC against the US and Israel.

    B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said the designation was “characteristic of totalitarian regimes, with the clear purpose of shutting down these organizations.”


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