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In the ghetto of self-righteousness and self-pity

From attacks on our site to talking points for rabbis: thoughts for the Jewish New Year.

So it’s that time of year again, when Gerald Steinberg writes an article about us. Steinberg, the head of a right-wing organization called NGO Monitor, has been using +972 (along with a few of other organizations) as tools in his efforts to demonize the New Israel Fund (following its decsion to add us to their donor-advised list). This is what he has to say:

A number of +972’s bloggers have invoked the immoral and false “apartheid” analogy, and in a February 2012 interview in The Nation, Noam Sheizaf, +972’s editor-in-chief, referred to Jerusalem as an “apartheid city.” In May 2012, +972 published a cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raping President Barack Obama and eating his limbs. And in September, Sheizaf used his twitter account to refer to critics as “the Jewish KKK” and “fascist”—reinforcing the image of the NIF network as exploiting a “progressive” and “liberal” façade for extreme polarization and hate speech.

If Steinberg wants to analyze works of satire or scan my Twitter feed for expressions that might sound shocking, that’s his own business.  Yes – I linked to a site full of hate talks against liberals, Muslims and Israeli leftists, which included comments wishing for their death – and called them “Jewish KKK.” I have also used the same expression to describe their moral equivalents here – those gangs that roam the West Bank, torching mosques and olive trees and beating or shooting at Palestinian farmers. I use blunt language sometimes, because I think we should wake up to the realities of our days.

Steinberg’s obsession with +972 is not the problem, nor are death wishes (“criticism,” in his words) on right-wing blogs. The problem is the rise of his agenda, both here and in Jewish communities in the United States. For some years now, organizations like NGO Monitor have been forming blacklists of Israelis suspected of “radical” or “anti-Zionist” positions. In academia alone, dozens have been targeted, with various degree of success. But as I reported yesterday, this practice is now becoming state policy, with the committee in charge of monitoring and financing academia now threatening to shut down the Department of Politics and Government at the University of Be’er Sheva – the same department that has been the target of increasing attacks and threats.

In the last three or four years, something new and disturbing has been taking place. An effort to limit the conversation, to police the debate, to shut down criticism, and to take over every platform available in our communities for the most vulgar advocacy work in the service of Israel’s current right-wing policies.

Here is an item that might seem unrelated, but for me it’s part of the same story: right after I read Steinberg’s post, I came across this piece, regarding a new campaign, designed to help American rabbis use the holidays for Israel advocacy in their communities. Examples:

The letter asks rabbis throughout the High Holidays and Sukkot to learn about the goals and strategies of those seeking to delegitimize Israel so they are best able to talk to their congregants about the difference between legitimate criticism and what is happening within some anti-Israel movements.

(…)

During Yom Kippur, the themes of self-awareness and praying for “our whole people” can be used as a segue into a discussion on Israel.

When such blunt indoctrination is at work, there is very little room left for real conversation. When the debate is policed by all sort of watchdog groups – NGO Monitor had no less than 27 paid employees in 2010, and they are but one organization – the space for challenging (and at times – unpleasant) political activism is shrinking. This is a problem that is felt more and more in Israel.

What really troubles me is the  fact that every other day there is a new “rule” about what can or can’t be said about Israel (apartheid, occupation, segregation vs. “legitimate criticism”). We do not intend to obey such rules on this site.

I am troubled by the tendency to shut ourselves in a ghetto of self-righteousness and self-pity. The fact that a site that has it in its mission statement a goal to present “an unconventional and unique stand on politics and the social and cultural life of the American and international Jewish community,” but ends up giving prime real estate to a McCarthyist, is, I think, a sign of our times.

I am troubled by what seems to me like a decision we took a while back to stop dealing with the problems we face – especially with the elephant in the room – and instead put so much effort in monitoring the way we are allowed to talk, or rather not talk, about those same problems. (If you don’t like the term apartheid in reference to Jerusalem, I urge you come up with another word to describe a city in which one-third of the population has so few legal rights, including limited voting rights and limits on their ability to purchase real-estate. Or let’s just drop the discussion on words altogether, and talk issues instead?)

I am troubled by what seems to be the emergence of a tight alliance between the dominant political powers in my country, and the most radical flank of a decaying and corrupt Republican party – to the point where you don’t know who is who and which is which. I am troubled by the growing Islamophobia in certain Jewish communities, not to mention in my country, and by the willingness of Israelis and Jews to cooperate with the worst of racists – some of them the spiritual descendants of those very same forces who persecuted our people – just because they now have a common enemy. And perhaps most of all, I am troubled by the fact that many of those who were supposed to be my allies within the Jewish communities are too confused, heartbroken or bewildered to take a public stand.

This, and not NGO Monitor, is the real problem.

This is where I urge the reader who has gotten this far to take a stand with us against the Steinbergs of this world. When it comes to supporting this site, you can do it in the usual ways: Share an article you find thought-provoking with a friend, even if he or she might disagree with it (actually, especially if he might disagree). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Write a comment every now and then. Drop a line (our email: info@972mag.com), even if it’s not a compliment. Writers love feedback, any feedback. Donations go a long way in helping us sustain this project – after all, the goal of NGO Monitor is to dry our very limited resources.

And most important, don’t let your Rabbi segue from the shofar into the Likud’s talking points.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. david shalev, esq.

      Why are you ruling out the possibility that the Israeli Jews are right 99 percent of the time and their Arab enemies are wrong 99 percent of the time.
      Islamophobia is a misnomer ir the culprit is geniunely afraid of mass riots, rape, suicide bombings and the like.

      Reply to Comment
      • David – so what’s YOUR vision of the future of Israel/Palestine? Have you ever sat down and had a coffee with a Palestinian, or another Arab? What do you think his/her vision is? More specifically, what do you base your us-vs-them beliefs on? I hope in any case, that you base them on more than inflammatory headlines. I’ll bet you’ve lived in Israel, and so yes you’ve probably been stained by the conflict. But what kind of world are you imagining, when you propose that 99% of one group is right, and 99% of another group is wrong. It sounds like a rigged case, a terrible fantasy…..

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Not since university, but yeah, I have sat down with Arabs in Israel, among other positions. It is a highly politicized/ideological society which is still mostly village based with the corresponding dominant social conformism. Even those that go to University wind up returning to their home towns and villages and blend in with the prevailing sentiment, even though many explicitly dreaded the prospect. Note that these were Israeli Arabs, not Palestinians, but I doubt the Palestinians are much more accommodating. The vision of the future derives from how they see the past. The consistent view is that the Jews are foreigners who do not belong in the land and who might be tolerated on the margins once the damage done by the Jews to the halcyon perfection of Palestine has been entirely reversed. That is that the interests and desires of the Arabs/Palestinians are primary and those of the Jews are illegitimate a priori and an audience on them is to be granted purely out of charity.

          So, yeah, it is us-vs-them. The situation here is clear as far as the majorities of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians are concerned. Either this territory will be ruled by Jews or it will be ruled by Arabs. Everything else is delightfully naive or deliberate obfuscations.

          As for the nonsense about it not being possible for one group to be right and another to be wrong. Yes, there are issues on which such a thing is entirely possible and only one answer is possible for a society. Let’s go with a big one recently – freedom of speech vs the sanctity of the koran which precludes the criticism of the koran, mohammed or islam. There is absolutely no way to reconcile these positions. Either I have the freedom of speech to say that Mohammed was a genocidal murderer who had sex with nine year old girls and to create the appropriate illustrations or I am to be put in jail and punished or killed. Either women are to have the same rights as men and protected by law from assault and rape or they are to be chattel who bring rape upon themselves by tempting the naturally excitable men by wearing insufficiently loose burqas. There are finite limits to the extent of moral relativism when it comes to the practicalities of political governance.

          Reply to Comment
          • “it is us-vs-them”: you have just abrogated your Declaration of Independence, K9.

            “Let’s go with a big one recently – freedom of speech vs the sanctity of the koran which precludes the criticism of the koran, mohammed or islam.”: why not stay at home, your home–the Boycott law voids free speech. An Israeli cannot say “I will not buy from the settlements” and “I urge others to consider this as well” together, for he risks civil suit. Where is the freedom of speech, K9? Deal with your own House; others struggle to deal with their own, too.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            It is seen as us-vs-them by the vast majorities on both sides regardless of whether you like it or not. This is the demonstrable reality and while denying it is a common pastime of some people of a certain persuasion, it isn’t a very productive one since it generates an inherent inability to understand current events.

            The Israeli law you refer to has never been enforced and will be overturned by the Israeli High Court as unconstitutional, a process that as an American you should be familiar with. The laws against blasphemy in the Muslim world are ensconced in the constitutions and there are cases of people being arrested and punished for vaguely defined crimes of blasphemy on a regular basis. I presume your recourse to such a weak argument is based on an absence of any stronger objections to the points made.

            Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Wrong. Islamophobia is definitely a problem even if the phobic experience genuine fear. Because Islamophobia is promulgated by fearmongers. Fear is their product. The answer is not to use fear to justify hatred but to learn how to recognize the lies that breed fear.

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        • david shalev, esq.

          Interesting. So it is “phobia” to fear a religion that has a huge subset of followers that believes:

          1. Islam should dominate the world under the caliphate
          2. suicide bombings against non-combatants are justified
          3. Apostasy and Blasphemy should be punished by death
          4. Jihad and martyrdom are glorified

          Let me invent a new term called “realityphobia” and then diagnose you with it.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            They used to tell lies about the Jews, too.

            Reply to Comment
          • david shalev, esq.

            There is concrete evidence that Islamic scripture can be interpreted as harming the infidels, promoting suicide bombings and conquering the world. Even if its a small minority of Muslims that act upon such an interpretation.

            In contrast the accusations against Jews could be easily debunked by a neutral observer – the don’t have horns, they don’t make blood out of matza… You might make the argument that Jews do control finance and other centers of power, but that’s neither here nor there. For the most part its probably a compliment.

            So be attuned to the distinction here.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            And Jews believe they are Chosen, superior to all other peoples, who were created to be the donkeys of Jews.

            Jews believe a single Jewish fingernail is worth more than thousands of the lives of the goyim.

            Jews believe it’s OK to kill any of the goyim, including children.

            Jews believe a Jew must let a goy die rather than violate Shabbos.

            etc

            etc

            Far from being easily disprovable, support for these statements can easily be found in the writings of rabbis.

            Not so different, after all?

            Reply to Comment
          • Mareli

            I wish the things said about the Islamists were as false as the lies that were told about the Jews. Sadly, although Jews did not poison wells or use the blood of Christian children to make matzos, the Muslim fanatics really do stone women, burn churches, and prosecute people for blasphemy. Even though most people who call themselves Muslim are not fanatics any more than all Christians are like Pat Robertson, too many Muslims are subjected to the rule of people who are fanatics.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Anonymous

      Awww…poor widdle 972 can’t handle a little bit of cwiticism?
      .
      How hypocritical can you get?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Lawrence Rosenwald

      A couple of times I’ve asked individuals who are to my political right of me, and who have said that they admit the legitimacy of some but not all criticism of Israeli policies, to give some representative examples of what they find legitimate. I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer; that result gives me the impression, which I’d be happy to have falsified, that the individuals in question _don’t_ actually regard any criticism of Israeli policies as legitimate, or at any rate any criticism from the left.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Matt

      Steinberg is allowed to say whatever he wants about you, and you are allowed to say whatever you want about Steinberg. No one is trying to “muzzle” you. It’s pathetic that you’re using NGO Monitor’s criticisms to beg for money. Stop whining.

      Reply to Comment
      • Peter H

        Matt, NGO Monitor is explictly trying to get organizations to stop funding +972. Operating 972 without funds is impossible. Sounds like “muzzling” to me.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Steinberg is not the problem. He is a second-rate professor at a second-rate university who – if not for the current powers that be in Israel, who seem hellbent on elevating the lowliest dregs of Israeli society – would be as obscure as any rambling homeless man. The real problem is the current Likud government, which seems to feed off all the negativity produced in Israel today. It’s sites like +972 that restore my faith in Israel and Israelis. Let Steinberg blow his hot air all he wants. Like President Obama said a few days ago – it’s the job of smart people to ignore the background noise and focus on what’s right.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Witty

      Say what you really think. Think kindly so that what you say is kind.

      Even in the heat of people attacking you personally.

      Its hard to be political, especially about Israel, attacked all the time for the wrong nuance of a word.

      And, its hard to be political electorally, making repeated stump speeches, exciting the first five times, but after a while you’ve seen even most of the possible responses. Boring at that point, requiring a different source of motivation than the intellectual stimulation of it, or the ego rush of applause (or even good questions).

      And, then you get yelled at for repeating yourself.

      Liberal Zionists have it the worst in my mind in that respect. We get yelled at from all sides, everyone calling us a turncoat, not trustable.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Zombie Mohammed

        Comment deleted

        Reply to Comment
    7. Bluegrass Picker of Afula

      >> I am troubled by the fact that many of those who were supposed to be my allies within the Jewish communities are too confused, heartbroken or bewildered to take a public stand.

      Noam is in denial. He does not want to accept the possibility that those other folks CHANGED THEIR MINDS in light of current events.

      Should read: “I’m scared that I might be forced to move to Afula and learn how to weld or fix diesel engines. I’m an intellectual and I have my birthright to schneur and get supported by the Leftist World Entente. Oh my god, what if they get more interested in the Rohingya than the Palestinians…. than I won’t be able to afford TelAviv rents after the gas-field rig workers have driven up the prices!”

      Reply to Comment
    8. “global demonization campaigns” are what freed Nelson Mandela. When a state faces an existential threat if it respects human rights, and you don’t start asking yourself some questions, the door is wide open to worse than apartheid.
      The real existential threat is for people like Noam, who desparately want a better world; the ones in power don’t really care about anything but their power.

      Reply to Comment
    9. P. Ami

      Global demonization campaigns are also what killed millions of Jews in Europe. Global demonization campaigns are also how the Soviets maintained their dominance over 2/3 of the world’s people. Global demonization projects are used both for good and bad and in the case of the demonization of Israel it is a horrible direction for the world to retake.

      The UN established that the Jews have the right that every other nation has. Jews have the right to their own homeland. The problem facing Arabs, and their human rights (which Israel does not deny them) is that the Arabs deny the Jew’s right to a homeland. It is a conflict and in such conflict, liberty is too often uncertain. Perhaps the Arabs should ask themselves if their recognition of the Jewish right to their own country is retained when the demand for a Right of Return is being upheld. They should wonder how Israel might make agreements with Palestinian leadership that has spent years now without legal basis (the PA has stopped holding elections since last decade) and is itself not unified. Perhaps the Arabs should consider the possibility that their own system is far more responsible for loss of civil liberties then Israel. Considering the sort of legal penalties that women, gays and non-Muslims suffer when living under the various Arab governments that surround Israel, and in the PA itself, you might want to consider again who keeps the door open to something worse then Apartheid.

      You seem not to know what an existential threat is. Nobody has credibly threatened Noam’s existence. The same can’t be said of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    10. aristeides

      And what of the current Israeli-led campaign of demonizing Iran, which certainly constitutes an existential threat?

      Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          Just because some Iranians may say foolish things doesn’t excuse Israeli demonization. Israel has given Iran more than enough reason.

          Reply to Comment
          • P. Ami

            Israel is not demonizing Iran. Israel’s position is that the Iranian state has been funding organizations who state their goal as the destruction of Israel. Iran’s leaders regularly spout the view that Israel should be wiped off the map and that Israel will be destroyed. Iran’s leadership responds to it’s own people’s protest against rigged elections by shooting it’s own people on the street. There is a calculus of concern by which Israel’s leaders say that an Iran with atomic bombs will destabilize the region and that Israel views this as an existential threat to the UN sanctioned, democratic and civilly liberal state of the Jewish People, Israel.

            That is not demonization plucked from thin air. This is a rational assessment based on facts. You may perhaps assess the situation differently but you must, at least, open your eyes to the possibility that Israel has assessed the circumstances in a more complete and accurate manner then you have.

            Finally, Israel has only ever threatened the nuclear program specifically. Israel has never said that it will destroy Iran, wishes for the destruction of Iran or would target Iranian population centers in it’s effort to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Israel has been targeting Iranian scientists and army personel involved in the nuclear program, not just any random Iranian. Israel is not making any existential threats to Iran. It is making only threats against the nuclear capabilities of Iran. Meanwhile, Iran and her proxies are at war with Israel itself. Do you find it difficult to be swayed by such distinctions?

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Israel is certainly demonizing Iran. Israel’s leaders regularly refer to Iran’s leaders as Hitler, as Nazis, as genocidal.

            In response to unrelenting Israeli threats, it’s hardly surprising that Iranians should respond in kind. If I were Iran, I would certainly want Israel and its threats to disappear.

            Furthermore, Israel has a long history of targeting population centers and killing innocents. Do you suppose that the long-desired Israeli bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities will not result in widespread war in which such widespread and indiscriminate killing will take place? Can you not understand that this is a serious existential threat to Iran?

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Aristeides,

            you’re awesome man.

            “Some Iranians say foolish things” is a great way to describe a President shouting “Death to Israel” to a frantic crowd.

            Please note that two of the movies are more than 5 years old and one is only 4 years old. The current status with Iran is not that old. We in Israel are used to hearing “Death to Israel \ Jews \ Zionists” from our neighbors (and the left explaining how it is really a call for peace) and we don’t take that too seriously. But hearing something like that from a leader of a country with aspirations to have nuclear weapons is something entirely different.

            Reply to Comment
    11. Carl

      What can I say: you do good, and do it well. Keep it up.

      Reply to Comment
    12. P.Ami. the problem is only there as long as there is a Palestinian presence to show the true nature of zionism. People like you who talk about ‘the Jews’ are the most dishonest of all. You defend racist nationalism by hiding behind people who have no connection whatsoever with the state Israel is in. If you were a redhead, you could just as well speak in their name. If the only way you can define yourself as a Jew is by killing and torturing the Other, then yes, a global campaign to stop that is the human thing to do.

      Reply to Comment
    13. This site is very valuable, in more than one way. For instance, without Yossi’s article on the removal of the refugees at the boarder fence, I would have never known. Without the posted videos of actions in the West Bank, again I would have never known. Without your reporting on Be’er Sheva University, again, never would I have known.

      I believe the category of “race traitor” is evolving in your country, and offer the proposed Political Science Department shutdown as evidence. The Boycott law is sort of a cvil action claim to the same end. For two years now I have been amazed at the courage of your site and those contributing there to. You refuse to ignore distress when corporate ideology says you must. You show us there is something more basic than friend and enemy–the human face. Things will not improve for some time–but, ultimately, they will. The stand you have taken shall be recognized. Those who would blot the book of life will fail.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Kolumn9

      When I read the headline I sincerely thought you were talking about the state of the Israeli left.

      It is really sad that many on the left have moved themselves so far outside the Israeli consensus and mainstream that they have been forced to rely on external funding and support to continue to operate. It is also sad that they continue to defend their position despite their obvious use abroad as fig leaves by every shade of anti-Semite and anti-Israel activist. At this point the Israeli anti-Israeli NGO complex can be justifiably labeled as foreign interference in the affairs of state by foreign actors who are hostile to Israel as a whole – those that either despise its existence in the first place and those who despise its nature but for whom its continued existence is of minimal actual importance. 972mag is quite blatantly being used by external actors to provide an Israeli-scented megaphone to all the outpouring of Israel hate that the sponsors of the NGO complex as a whole and of 972mag in particular wish to transmit to their own domestic audiences. It is of course a mutually beneficial arrangement – they get their fill of anti-Israeli propaganda, and you get paid while finding an international audience and all while thinking you are actually doing something good.

      I am sure there will be those that will defend 972mag by arguing that these are just bloggers expressing their opinions and the foreign sponsors just happen to enjoy throwing money down dark holes with no expectations of any return or heck, that they wish to influence Israeli society in what they consider a more positive direction.

      Two points to make on this. 1) The ‘more positive direction’ that the foreign sponsors wish to push Israeli society into is based on foreign calculations of interest and foreign perception of what is good and bad for the world, that in no way necessarily corresponds to Israeli interests. 2) The site is in English and read and used primarily by foreigners. So, this site is explicitly not targeted towards changing Israeli society, but at foreigners seeking info on Israeli society and it presents Israeli society in the most negative light possible.. purposefully.. and consistently.

      Given these points, the willingness of foreigners to subsidize this site can only be explained by their desire to produce negative propaganda against the State of Israel with the intention of damaging it abroad and with the intention of increasing domestic anti-Israeli sentiment. I doubt even the owners of this site would disagree much with the assessment, except they would come back with some kind of empty argument that damaging the state of Israel internationally is actually a noble objective because making Israel weaker is actually a positive development. My response to that is simple – positive for who and whose objectives are you serving?

      Reply to Comment
    15. “At this point the Israeli anti-Israeli NGO complex can be justifiably labeled as foreign interference in the affairs of state by foreign actors who are hostile to Israel as a whole – those that either despise its existence in the first place and those who despise its nature but for whom its continued existence is of minimal actual importance.”–Welcome to McCarthy land, K9. To not speak the truth of the State is to be against the State and so its people, and that which is against the people must be blotted out. Including people in the people.

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        Greg, you miss the point.
        It’s OK to speak against your government, nobody claims otherwise.

        It’s wrong to finance organizations to act internally and change the policy of a foreign country without declaring it.

        I don’t know where you’re from. Let’s assume you are against a strike in Iran and so is your country. How would you feel if you were to discover that an NGO called “New movement for freedom” or “Teachers for peace” or “Clerks for social justice” or “Innkeepers for naturalism” or any other useless name is heavily financed by Israel to be active and promote the idea that Iran is evil? It will hide the source of their financing, It will hide its purpose and agenda and it will do nothing illegal. But it will create rallies, appear on your TV and in your papers and actively try to affect your opinion.

        This is wrong.

        Reply to Comment
        • From Gorenberg’s “Unmaking of Israel”: “Israeli law already required nonprofit organizations to submit detailed financial reports to the state’s Registrar of NPOs, which makes those reports public. So the parliamentary efforts to ‘reveal’ their funding sources were pure theater.” p. 217 You do not want to stop all external money, only that you disagree with, claiming it endangers the State. You want to silence those in your own land. You are on the way to creating a category of race traitor.

          Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        There is a big difference between individuals expressing their opinions and foreign funding of those opinions. One is free speech, the other is a political interference.

        Noam can say whatever he wants, but let’s be clear, his current soapbox is entirely subsidized by people that derive their motivation from their desire to change the way Israel is perceived abroad and their desire is to see Israel perceived in a more negative light. So, let me repeat, the reason for the funding of this web site is to generate negative propaganda to be used against Israel internationally and to interfere in Israeli political discourse.

        Reply to Comment
        • K9, the Diaspora sends money to organizations in Israel constantly. The NIF likely gets money from some among the Diaspora, among others. Fundamental Christians (one I think is called “GODTV” or something) provides money for the creation of forests in land cleaned of prior residents. You want to take the money of the Diaspora when you agree with the aims, but otherwise not. And you will take the money of people who think, if you do not change your mind, you will be going to hell. You do NOT want to block foreign funds in principle, but merely to silence speech you dislike. This is McCarthyism.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bluegrass Picker of Afula

            >> You do NOT want to block foreign funds in principle, but merely to silence speech you dislike

            Yes! and that’s normal politics everywhere in the world.

            Can’t take the heat, Greg? Get out of the kitchen and go back to your kumbaya circles at an Occupy meetup.

            PS: We’re still waiting to hear whose destroyed village your house is built on!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Yes, Israel wants to accept money from those donations interested in building up the country and its economy and reject those donations that are interested in tearing it down.

            On a more practical level much of the donations for the Israeli anti-Israeli NGO complex doesn’t come from the NIF, but from European governmental organizations. Feel free to browse the NGO Monitor reports on your favorite NGO. NGO Monitor might be right-wing, but I have yet to see any credible challenge to the veracity of their reports on the funding sources of Israeli NGOs.

            The NIF’s role in this is also despicable. Rather than promoting a better Israel their donations promote organizations that operate internationally as anti-Israel propagandists while stoking up every possible form of sectoral divisions within Israel.

            Reply to Comment
    16. Vadim

      This article reaches new level of hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

      For as long as I can remember, the Israeli press was totally dominated by the left. I’m talking about all the major papers – Yediot, Maariv, Haarez. All the major new sites sites – ynet, nrg, walla, nana. All major news anchors. All major political related programms on the radio or TV.

      Different opinions were not muzzled. They were totally silenced. Any objection to the Oslo accords was treated as an objection to peace and totally discarded. Any objection to the disengagement (an ethnic cleansing of Jews if you ask me) was treated as an objection to peace and totally discarded. The few people of the showbiz who expressed different opinions were treated as traitors (See Avri Gilad). Statements by Arabs, Peace Now and others described as fact while statements by IDF or the policy left in quotation marks. Passive tounge in the description of Arab violence. Jewish youth that paints Graffiti are described as terrorirsts. New laws which the left disagreed with were not analyzed but simply called Fascistic or undemocratic. Active political left activists are called “Social activists” or “Worried parents \ teachers \ students \ doctors”, while everyone else is branded as “Right wing activist”. The list is endless. There never was a dialogue, only a monologue by the left – explaining to everyone what are the correct opinions to hold, explaining that every other opinion is against the peace, against equality, against international law and against basic human rights.

      During all this time, Noam was not “troubled”. He was not worried that the press failed to perform it’s most basic task – report facts. He was not worried when foreign states invested large sums of money into organizations to change Israeli policy. He was not worried when every other opinion besides his own was forcefully silenced.

      But now something bad is happening – people don’t hold the right opinion, they dare question his usage of the word apartheid, they dare put him in a list with other people that hold the same “correct” opinions and (best of all) – they try to “limit the conversation”. How? By writing other blogs, by publishing other papers, by creating organizations to represent them, by appealing to Knesset Members. Very dangerous, undemocratic and some may even say – Zionist.

      Nobody calls to silence the left, people just want to stop financing blunt anti Israel propaganda – in the academia and in the press. Only people that are afraid of criticism and don’t wish a dialogue will find what’s going on in Israel disturbing.

      Reply to Comment
      • Carl

        One crumb of consolation is that no matter how right wing any country gets, people like Vadmim will always be convinced the left really in charge. ‘Nobody calls to silence the left’: yeah, keep worrying Vadim: we yoghurt weavers have your number.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Perhaps it derives from his ability to read the news and watch TV in Hebrew? You seem to be missing that given that this discussion is about the ‘muzzling’ of ideas his comment is about the media. The government in power is right-wing. The media in Israel is dominated by the left, though, as expected, their positions are usually presented as centrist. This may be gradually changing, but there is still a massive imbalance and it is really quite silly to pretend otherwise.

          Reply to Comment
          • Carl

            Keep making my point, I’m off to bed. Some of us have work in the morning. Sadly.

            Reply to Comment
          • “dominated by the left,” K9? Hardly. The Israeli paper with largest circulation is distributed for FREE and endorses Bibi’s policy. You are winning, K9. Why are you then so afraid of little +972?

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Carl –

            “People like Vadim”? Really?! What are people like me like?

            Greg –
            While Israel Hayom does support Bibi, the support does not spread to the entire right ideology. I can hardly describe it as a right-wing newspaper. But let’s assume it is. Every other major newspaper, news website, TV news and shows are totally dominated by the left. Let me explain – I do not claim the political left controls them. No. All I say is that all key positions – writers, editors, anchors, broadcasters – are taken by people with a clear left political view. That would have been OK if they had the ability to separate their views from their work. They don’t. They push it in your face in a hundred different ways. Every day. You have to learn to read between the lines to get a glimpse of the truth.

            Another thing – versions Yediot Ahrnonot and Jerusalem post (in Hebrew) are also distributed for FREE.

            Please try to address the issues I’ve written or acknowledge the fact that you don’t understand enough of what’s going on in Israel.

            I personally don’t have anything against 972Mag or other more extreme sites (like http://hagada.org.il/). Reading opinions similar to mine is boring and the existence of these sites proves that I still live in a free country.

            Reply to Comment
    17. Mikesailor

      Strange how the discourse has devolved so quickly from the straw-men promulgated by the hasbara forces. The article was about how an NGO has attempted to discourage the funding of this site with apparent state connivance. Curious how K-9 and his fellow hasbaristas approve. Of course it seems they would approve of any organization or group practicing a ‘scorched earth’ policy against those with whom they disagree. From political science departments being closed because of ‘leftist infiltration’, to laws prohibiting even the mention of boycotts; as long as everyone follows the hasbaristas narrow precepts, then all is right with the world. How did we ever get to the idea, so popular among the right-wing, that, to paraphrase Clausewitz’s aphorism turned on its head: “Politics is war by other means” rather than a civil discourse meant to find the best way forward, using reason, among competing alternatives? Why should an idea or philosophy advocating special rights for one group of people over another group be granted special dispensation to become not only one view in competition with other views, but the ‘monopoly’ view, with any competition occurring outside the ideas themselves, but rather with the ability, both financial and legal, to disseminate opposing viewpoints?

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        What straw-men? The financing of 972mag and of nearly every other left-wing NGO in Israel by a plethora of foreign organizations committed to changing Israel from the outside is a fact that the organizations themselves acknowledge blissfully.

        Framing this as some kind of freedom of speech issue is a blatant distortion. It isn’t. It is a question of how much foreign interference in the domestic political debate can be tolerated within an open, democratic system. It is only reasonable to presume that there must be some bounds on such interference, and the question becomes where to draw the line, and what actors are left outside.

        Reply to Comment
    18. Mitchell Cohen

      “Matt, NGO Monitor is explictly trying to get organizations to stop funding +972. Operating 972 without funds is impossible. Sounds like “muzzling” to me.” [End of Quote] If individuals and organizations (like Peace Now) in Israel have the right to call for boycotts of Jews living in certain areas of Israel (which, in a democracy, I believe they should), then individuals and organizations (like NGO monitor) have the right to call for others to stop funding certain groups (like 972). Funny how democracy can be a double edged sword when you are on the receiving end.

      Reply to Comment
      • Calls to cease private funding are one thing; State barriors to outside funding based on speech is another. You need to shut down the people at +972. What have they done to cause such fear?

        Reply to Comment
    19. Gil Franco

      “I am troubled by what seems to me like a decision we took a while back to stop dealing with the problems we face – especially with the elephant in the room – and instead put so much effort in monitoring the way we are allowed to talk, or rather not talk, about those same problems.”

      Yet this site frequently belittles problems that Israel faces beyond the occupation (and were significant factors in creating it) – lack of recognition, a century of violence, ideological demonization by the neighbors. It’s old news but the conflict preceded the occupation of the ’67 and is likely to continue after Israel leaves the rest of those territories if it ever does. Instead of confronting these realities, you prefer to ignore or denigrate them in favor of simply blaming Israel for the entire mess. In doing so you ally yourself with some truly hateful ideas and people and yet seem surprised that most Israelis don’t sign up to what you think is good for them. Try making your case without insulting Jews’ right to self determination, their predicaments when powerless, and stop apologizing for Arab chauvinism and mistreatment of Jews; you might make some progress.

      Reply to Comment
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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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