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NIF CEO: “We will not back down”

29 December 2022

In response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s formation of Israel’s new hardline government, the New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch released the following statement:

“For over four decades, the New Israel Fund has worked to defend liberal democracy in Israel. We’ve stood together with Israelis working for justice and equality, and we’ve defended the rights of all people living in Israel and under Israeli control. We have warned of rising extremism and fought for democratic values and human rights. 

The coalition that is being sworn in today is steeped in ultra-nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and populist extremism antithetical to the values and vision of liberal democracy. Antithetical to our values. Some say, wait and see what the new coalition will do once it is in power. And we will. But we have also listened carefully to what the new coalition members have repeatedly said they believe in, stand for, and plan to do: evisceration of the independence of the judiciary and of the checks and balances and protections of minorities that distinguish actual democratic societies from the tyranny of the majority; further marginalization of Palestinian citizens of Israel and a roll-back of the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ Israelis, non-Orthodox Jews, and others who do not conform to the narrow vision of Israel’s new hardline, ethno-nationalist, and ultra-orthodox leaders; expansion, legalization, and ultimately annexation of the settlement enterprise on the West Bank. We take them at their word, and urge others who care about a democratic future for Israel to do the same. 

To those who urge patience we say, the time for standing on the sidelines and hoping for the best has passed. In the words of Elie Weisel: “We must take sides… Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” In response to a coalition espousing homophobia, racism, and intolerance, we must prepare to stand up and speak out. We must say: not in our name, not on our watch. And to those extremists and their blacklists already threatening the rights of so many in Israel, we say today: We will see you in court, we will see you in the Knesset, we will see you in the streets. We will not back down and we will not give up.”

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