Press Release: APN Condemns Extremists' Attacks on Progressive Israelis


Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) in condemning the current wave of vicious right-wing attacks on leaders of Israeli progressive nonprofits, on peace and human rights organizations, and even on Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin.

This week, the incitement against Israeli progressives reached new heights, with the launch of a new campaign by Im Tirtzu, an extremist, McCarthyite Israeli group. This campaign also marks a new low in Im Tirtu’s campaign of incitement against the Left – a remarkable feat given that Im Tirtzu has for some time been plumbing the depths of incitement, including with a vile campaign targeting the New Israel Fund, featuring Der Sturmer-style images of a veteran Israeli Knesset member on whose head they had drawn horns. Im Tirtzu’s new campaign – which includes a video, an ad running in Israeli media, and a website – targets our colleagues in the Israeli human rights and civil society movement, labeling them foreign “plants” and suggesting that they support terror against Israel. The imagery of the campaign calls to mind militant anti-abortion websites in the United States that, until blocked by U.S. courts, included details and photos of targeted individuals and then placed an “X” over the faces of the targets that had been killed.

APN is all too familiar with this kind of incitement and where it can lead: staff of APN’s Israeli sister- organization, Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) have over the years received death threats, been attacked while carrying out their work, and been attacked at their homes. Today we stand proudly with Hagai Elad (B’tselem), Avner Gvaryahu (Breaking the Silence), Yishai Menuhin (the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel), and Sigi Ben-Ari (Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual) against this outrage. We stand proudly in support of the courageous work they and their organizations do in defense of Israeli democracy and the rule of law.  

APN supports Shalom Achshav and others in Israel in their call to the Israeli government to treat this new Im Tirtzu campaign as illegal incitement and to compel Im Tirtzu to desist. 

Barely a month ago, Israelis and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the hands of an extremist Israeli Jew. On the occasion of that somber anniversary, politicians from across the Israeli political spectrum condemned the murder, but for many this was clearly little more than lip service. Rabin’s murder took place in a national climate of vile incitement by the Israeli Right – incitement that painted Rabin and the Left as traitors and enemies of Israel. In the years that have followed, Im Tirtzu and its ilk, backed by right-wing Knesset members, have perpetuated and increased the campaign of reckless, contemptible incitement against the Left. Indeed, this week’s campaign reflects a climate in which the Knesset is actively working to pass legislation that openly brands Israel’s progressive civil society organizations as enemies of the people and the state.

APN urges the Obama Administration and Members of Congress to speak out in defense of Israeli democracy, in opposition both to this kind of incitement and in opposition to legislation in the Knesset that would curtail the work of progressive Israeli organizations.

Regrettably, American Jewish leaders have remained silent in the face of the growing attacks on Israeli progressive civil society. This silence cannot continue. American Jewish leaders must speak out in opposition to the growing reckless incitement taking place in Israel today against Israeli progressive civil society, just as they have spoken out against Palestinian incitement. American Jewish leaders have, with good reason, long pointed to Israel’s vibrant civil society and freedom of speech as evidence of the robustness of Israeli democracy in an un-democratic region. Today, these same leaders must recognize that burgeoning attacks on Israeli progressive civil society are a threat to Israel’s democracy and feed the kind of extremism that has already led to attacks and the murder of an Israeli prime minister. 

APN urges U.S. Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum to condemn this vile incitement and to speak out against the ongoing efforts in the Knesset to curtail the work of progressive Israeli organizations. 

Shalom Achshav, together with other progressive pro-democracy, pro-peace and anti-occupation groups, is organizing a rally and march in Tel Aviv this Saturday night to protest the continuing wave of efforts to stifle democracy and silence dissent, and the growing incitement against individuals and organizations who criticize Israeli government policies.