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Statement from New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch: Knesset Probe of Human Rights Organizations Fails to Garner Majority

22 February 2011

Washington, DC: Following the postponement – and likely failure – of the Knesset inquiry into the activities of Israel’s human rights community, the New Israel Fund released this statement from CEO Daniel Sokatch:

“I am very pleased by the news today that the Knesset has indefinitely postponed the vote on the motion to investigate and, ultimately, persecute if not also prosecute, Israeli human and civil rights organizations, whose work is critically important to any accountable democracy.

I hope that as political support for this anti-democratic legislation continues to erode, that this motion will be relegated to the trash heap as it so rightly deserves in a country whose people remain firmly committed to the values of freedom of expression, rule of law and justice upon which Israel was founded.

Make no mistake, this is a ‘win’ for the very voices this legislation intended to stifle, if not silence completely. Not only did Israel’s progressive NGO’s rise to collectively and effectively challenge this so-called inquiry, but the voice of civil society grew stronger in the process. NIF and its action-arm SHATIL, along with flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, played a key role in representing the interests of civil society in working to defeat the inquiry, which aimed to put internationally-respected human rights organizations out of business.

The turn of events has left NIF and its family of organizations cautiously optimistic. While we applaud this development as a sign of strength of Israel’s democratic institutions, several pieces of legislation that would curtail dissent and basic rights remain under Knesset consideration.

The news comes at a time when it is critically important for Israel to serve as an example of successful democracy to its neighbors. Emboldened and encouraged by this victory, NIF will stand steadfast with those who support Israel in upholding the very values that secure its place in the region and among nations as a liberal democracy.”

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