News & Media Articles

Democracy under Threat: The Controversy over Human Rights Work in Israel

10 March 2010 By New Israel Fund

The New Israel Fund has been monitoring, with increasing alarm, the attempts by emboldened nationalists and extremists to undermine Israeli democracy.  Last year, NIF and our family of human rights organizations battled against proposed legislation that would prohibit public events commemorating the Nakba (the term used by Israeli Arabs to reference the tragedy, from their perspective, of 1948) and that would require a loyalty oath as a condition for obtaining an Israeli identity card. 

In January 2010, the assault on democracy continued with the interrogation of Reform movement activist Anat Hoffman for leading egalitarian prayer services at the Western Wall and, again, a week later after the arrest of the director of our flagship grantee ACRI in East Jerusalem participating in a peaceful protest.  This past month has seen a vicious, well-coordinated and well-financed campaign against the New Israel Fund by a new right-wing group that has included scurrilous personal attacks on NIF President Naomi Chazan.

Like the post 9-11 atmosphere in the US, Israeli voices of dissent are being characterized as unpatriotic.  The human rights organizations continuing to do their critical work by documenting and reporting abuses, are being accused of undermining the state.   The evolving picture is of a democracy in crisis.

On March 3rd 2010, we held a special conference call with Former MK and NIF president Naomi Chazan and NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch. Click play below to listen to the call.

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