It is clear that this is a coordinated attack aimed at increasing support for the anti-NGO legislation which is currently making its way through the Knesset. On Wednesday night, Im Tirtzu will be taking this a step further by organizing an anti-NIF demonstration in Tel Aviv, under the banner of ‘Saving Israel from the NIF’ (they are also advertising this banner in Maariv and Haaretz), accusing us of directing the asylum seeker demonstrations. This shows that the attacks are getting more severe.
It is important to emphasize: the protests were initiated solely by the asylum seeker community themselves. As we said in our official statement last week: “Over the last few days, there have been many claims that the New Israel Fund is responsible for the asylum seeker protests. These resemble the claim that NIF was responsible for the social protests in the summer of 2011. Neither of these claims is correct. The protests belong to the asylum seekers – they are the ones who initiate them, manage them, and lead them. For years, NIF has supported civil rights and social change organizations working in many areas – supporting workers, women, disadvantaged populations, the periphery, as well as organizations dealing specifically with the refugee issue and organizations which were established by refugees. Some of these organizations regularly assist asylum seekers and Israeli residents.”
The demands of the protests are: freeing all Africans imprisoned for seeking asylum; amending the anti-infiltrator law; demanding the government check every single asylum request; and speak directly with the community in order to find a solution.
Over the past few days, attacks on us have increased, to the extent that Miri Regev has asked for an NIF/SHATIL representative attend a special government committee meeting on the issue (following consultation with our grantees, we have decided to boycott this hearing, as it is designed to be a witch-hunt). This meeting has been delayed because of Sharon’s funeral. It is important to note that these attacks have not just focused on the refugees, but also on NIF’s involvement in a host of other issues, such as the Bedouin, with a ferocity which reminds us of the attacks which followed the publication of the Goldstone Report.
I will continue to update you on the campaign, and would be glad to receive your input.
Executive Director in Israel