Right-wing activists have been infiltrating human rights and anti-occupation organizations. The spies did do serious damage, but to a much bigger target than they intended: Israeli society.
Two weeks ago I wrote about a right-wing group trying to recruit people to a “top secret” mission: spying on left-wing organizations in Israel. The outfit was largely a one-man show. I thought it was a colorful but probably not very serious example of the latest “hasbara” antics – propaganda or public diplomacy – gone too far.
I was naïve. Two weeks later, we learned that right-wing impostors have been infiltrating, befriending and filming left-wing organizations for several years. Israel’s vaunted investigative news program “Uvda” aired a damning story about far left-wing activist Ezra Nawi based on the documentation of such self-anointed spies. Breaking the Silence, the ex-soldiers’ testimonial organization, found another mole who had burrowed into its inner circle as well. The daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot ran a lengthy spread revealing (rather banal) details of a meeting the group held with former director-general of the Foreign Ministry and retired ambassador Alon Liel.
Amir Beit Arieh, the young man who had spied on Breaking the Silence, told Channel 2 this week that the goal was to trap those on the far left “who will stop at nothing,” he says, to end to the occupation.
So infiltration is no longer a threat but a reality. What do we need to know about this, and what does it mean?
Tripping themselves up
First, it’s important to understand who the spies are. Beyond their personal background, Walla news portal reported this week that their organization, “Ad Kan” is funded partly by the “Samaria Settlers’ Committee.” That’s the same group which in 2015 created an eerie youtube ad attacking the foreign funding of left-wing NGOs, replete with Nazi-era anti-Semitic caricatures and a gruesome hanging at the end.
The Committee is also a partially publicly funded organization – so Israeli taxpayers are likely paying to send citizens to spy on each other. How much? The Walla reporter didn’t know yet. Which is odd, considering how important financial transparency is for the Right.
This highlights the next point, that right-wing activists are turning out contradictions that could also be described as screaming hypocrisies. The arrest and indictment of murder suspects in the Duma case led the Right in Israel to express unprecedented concern for human and civil rights. Torture, it turns out, is a bad...Read More