What would you say if I told you that the most recent right-wing initiative to stifle progressive organizations in Israel is a Knesset bill that would compel members of such organizations to wear a special badge, “visibly, on their clothing,” when they are in the Knesset?
You’d probably tell me that it’s an ugly joke, and that even satire shouldn’t use such loaded symbols for the sake of ridicule. And I would completely agree with you.
The problem, you see, is that this is not a joke. This is not The Onion. It’s yet another example of grotesque legislative overreach by right-wing Knesset members – in this case the Jewish Home’s Bezalel Smotrich – intended to delegitimize progressive Israeli organizations, to humiliate them and to stifle them. That, of course, includes representatives of our Israeli sister-organization, Israel’s Peace Now movement, the nemesis of extremist West Bank settlers who are chiefly represented in the Knesset by Smotrich’s party.
According to Smotrich’s bill, all representatives of progressive organizations who receive financial assistance from foreign governments would have to wear the badge in the Knesset. Furthermore, the bill stipulates that in every interaction with a civil servant, representatives of non-profits that receive foreign funding would have to disclose it upfront for the sake of “transparency.”
Smotrich, himself a settler and a self-proclaimed homophobe (earlier this year, he told Israeli high school students “I am a proud homophobe”) is not some common man. He is a Deputy Chairman of the Knesset, a member of the important Finance Committee of the parliament, an active member of Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition.
He and his fellow extremist settlers have a good reason to try to defang Peace Now, the organization that meticulously documents and exposes their ongoing efforts to jeopardize a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Yes, these extremist settlers fear Peace Now, and therefore try to undermine it.
We at APN and at Israel’s Peace Now movement wear our anti-settlements efforts as a badge of honor. We will not give up or give in to these enemies of peace, even if they wield legislative power in the Knesset.
With your help, we will struggle to protect Israeli democracy and to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.
President and CEO
Americans for Peace Now
P.S. Please see the press release we issued today, condemning the hate-crimes in South Carolina and Israel here.