Americans don’t get it about Israel, again

News item:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lashed out harshly at left-wing organizations and their supporters Monday, in statements that his opponents said added to a mood of incitement prevalent in the country.

Lieberman condemned the NGOs targeted by a proposed parliamentary committee of inquiry as “aiding terror groups” and called right-wing politicians who opposed the establishment of the committee “traitors” to the national camp.

During a televised faction meeting on Monday afternoon at the Knesset, Lieberman said that “it is clear that these are simply terror-aiding organizations, whose entire goal is to weaken the IDF and its determination to protect Israel’s citizens.” — Jerusalem Post

In yesterday’s Ma’ariv, the  Im Tirtzu organization, which last January created a storm by revealing that a majority of the anti-IDF ‘evidence’ underlying the Goldstone Report was provided by a few left-wing NGOs funded by the US-based New Israel Fund (see here, here, and here), released a report exposing the connections of these NGOs to a Palestinian ‘welfare’ organization funded by Arab states:

The report states that the organizations’ yearly budget, which is estimated at tens of millions of dollars, comes from a number of sources: Countries and organizations in Europe – including the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark – as well as Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Qatar.

According to Im Tirtzu, large banks, such as the Islamic Development Bank, as well as Arab funds, also allocate money to the Welfare Association and the NGO Development Center, which then transfer 97% of the funds to Palestinians in the territories and some 3% to leftist Israeli organizations. — YNet

These groups and their supporters counter by claiming that Lieberman and others are attempting to ‘suppress dissent’, engaging in McCarthyism’, etc.  Unfortunately, this criticism resonates in the US, where many people — especially liberal Jews — are quick to demand that Israel behave like an ideal Platonic state despite the real and immediate threats it faces. For example, the Union for Reform Judaism issued a press release titled “Knesset Decision Undermines Israel’s Democratic Values” which included the following:

The recent initiative [to establish a Knesset committee to investigate left-wing NGOs] undermines Israel’s place in the global community and is a source of concern to the Jewish community throughout the world and to Israel’s friends everywhere.

Israel has always been a vibrant democracy that supports the right of every citizen to speak freely and that encourages volunteer organizations to express their views, critical or otherwise, about all aspects of Israeli society. The activity of human rights organizations in Israel is a tribute to Israel’s democratic values and strengthens her democratic character. — URJ press release

As always, I have to repeat that Israel is not the US. Israel does not have 300+ million people and span a continent with oceans on either side. Israel is today the target of an international campaign of vilification whose objective is to reduce her ability to defend herself against her enemies, who today have tens of thousands of missiles aimed at its population centers from launchers just a short distance from her borders.

Much of this campaign is financed from Europe. Here is an outrageous example from our friends in Spain:

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The Israeli NGOs in question work assiduously to collect the most damaging accusations against Israel, and then publicize them as if they are verified facts. They organize demonstrations and file lawsuits. They do everything they can short of actual violence to impede the operations of the IDF. They provide cover — since they are Israeli sources — for vicious demonization of Israel and the IDF.

Can you imagine the outcry if an American NGO which called for opening the border between the US and Mexico turned out to be funded by the Mexican government? And keep in mind that the question of illegal immigration to the US is not (yet) an existential threat. Nobody is firing rockets across the Rio Grande.

Americans should understand that whether or not they find the rhetoric of Mr. Lieberman congenial, there is a real conflict here between the right of free expression and the need to protect the state and its citizens. It is absolutely unacceptable here, or anywhere else in the world, to allow foreign entities to finance subversive groups.

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