|NIF Protests Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Human Rights Funding|
Dozens of demonstrators at the march, including NIF activists,
Without much prior publicity and with a rainstorm looming, more than 10,000 Israelis turned out to rally in Tel Aviv last Saturday night to protest a recent parliamentary committee of inquiry - established at the behest of Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beitenu party - to investigate funding of human rights organizations. NIF was prominent among dozens of social change and human rights organizations, public figures, celebrities and ordinary concerned citizens who marched from the city’s Meir Park to the Tel Aviv Museum in a show of strength by the "Democratic Camp”.
The proposed parliamentary investigation has provoked a storm of international comment and protest, with American Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee openly comparing the Lieberman initiative to McCarthyism (see stories in the Forward, Jewish Week and JTA). Specifically targeted to progressive civil society, the proposed investigation equates the ordinary work of human rights groups with treason, and threatens the autonomy and independence of Israel’s third sector. Along with several bills now pending in the Knesset, the proposed inquiry only targets groups on the left – organizations representing radical settlers and the ultra-Orthodox are not intended to be examined in the probe.
Earlier this month, following a 47-16 vote in the Knesset plenum to set up the “investigatory” committee, NIF swung into action with a protest campaign entitled "Interrogate Me Too." The slogan has been featured widely in the media and on social network sites and "Interrogate Me Too" placards were carried by dozens of NIF activists at Saturday night's demonstration.
Addressing the rally Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said, “They are putting human rights organizations in the crosshairs. They don’t want to investigate the Carmel fire, so what do they investigate? The freedom of the people.”
Kadima MK Meir Shetreet said, “This decision by the Knesset is offensive and dangerous causing grave damage to the name of the State as it makes Israel one of the states of darkness.
NIF and SHATIL are continuing the media offensive against the committee of inquiry and are intensively lobbying MKs in attempts to have the inquiry disbanded or divested of authority.
On the morning after the demonstration, NIF Israel Executive Director Rachel Liel wrote an op-ed published in Y-Net, Israel's most popular news website. You can read an English translation here.