Just weeks after it was deemed to have 'fascist characteristics,' nationalist group Im Tirtzu tries to shut down Zochrot for allegedly 'rejecting the existence of the State of Israel.' Right-wing group Im Tirtzu is attempting to shut down Zochrot, a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to raising awareness of the Nakba in Israeli society, and working toward the return of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled by Israeli forces in 1948. According to the Israeli news site Kipa [Hebrew], Im Tirtzu leader Ronen Shoval sent a letter to the head of Israel's NGO registry, claiming that Zochrot's activity contradicts section 49…Read More... | 20 Comments
A verdict by the Jerusalem District Court finds that recognizing 'certain lines of resemblance' to fascism in the ideology or activities of the right-wing movement can be seen as 'truthful.' The verdict is a major blow to Im Tirtzu’s efforts to portray itself as a mainstream, grassroots movement. The extreme-right group Im Tirtzu lost a court case against a group of leftist activists who opened a Facebook page called “Im Tirtzu – A Fascist Movement.” Judge Raphael Ya'akobi of the Jerusalem District Court determined that some of Im Tirtzu’s attributes bear certain similarities to fascism – thus allowing the activists…Read More... | 18 Comments
Tel Aviv's Eretz Israel Museum has been under increasing pressure to cancel Zochrot’s second international conference. Recently, the museum presented new conditions to the organizers, including paying for increased security and changing the wording on the event invitation. An international conference by Zochrot, an Israeli NGO which focuses on the Nakba and the "right of return," is under threat, following pressure from right-wing organizations. The Eretz Israel Museum, where Zochrot decided to host the event, has recently informed organizers that due to the risk of demonstrations and public disorder, they will need to pay for increased, onsite security. The museum…Read More... | 9 Comments
Soldiers beat cameramen in Hebron after suspecting that they work for B'Tselem. Recent years have seen an organized campaign by mainstream Israeli journalists and politicians against human rights organizations in Israel and the West Bank. Reuters reported that two of its cameramen were abused by IDF soldiers in Hebron on Wednesday night. The men were stripped, beaten, and made to breathe tear gas at a very close range. The soldiers also took one of their cameras, which was later found unharmed nearby. The incident took place shortly after a local teenager was shot to death by a Border Police soldier at…Read More... | 11 Comments
The crackdown on Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government may seem unprecedented, but a closer look reveals an ongoing campaign to challenge academic freedom in the university and beyond. By B.N.* While the attacks on the Department of Politics and Government of Ben-Gurion University are being viewed by many as an unprecedented measure, infringements of academic freedom in Israeli-controlled areas are common. They are often part of the regime of military occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. Today, such infringements in the occupied territories include limitations on students’ and faculty’s access to academic institutions through checkpoints and…Read More... | 14 Comments
In an unprecedented move, the Council for Higher Education will vote on shutting down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University, which has been the target of right-wing propaganda for the last several years. A major political battle is taking place this autumn within Israeli academia: the Israeli Council for Higher Education (CHE), a government-appointed body charged with the supervision and financing of universities and colleges in Israel, is attempting to shut down the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University (BGU). In recent years, the Department of Politics and Governments has been labeled by right-wing organizations…Read More... | 29 Comments
By Naomi Paiss To some, the controversy over the firing of Adar Cohen, the Education Ministry bureaucrat in charge of civics education, may be no more than a footnote in the cultural and political wars roiling Israel. In my professional position, running communications for the New Israel Fund, I might agree. My job requires me to sort through the multiple threats to democracy, civil rights and pluralism in Israel. So if someone asked me to advocate for one man who lost his job, I’d be dubious. But a confluence of the professional and personal leads me to confront the issues…Read More... | 3 Comments
Right-wing NGO that went after progressive and human right groups is financed from abroad, including through large grants from undisclosed donors Last week, Haaretz's Uri Blau had a short expose – available only in the Hebrew edition – regarding the rightwing non-profit NGO Monitor. As some readers might remember, NGO Monitor recently attacked the German Heinrich Böll Foundation for a grant of 6,000 Euros it gave +972 Magazine in 2011. According to its website, "NGO Monitor's objective is to end the practice used by certain self-declared 'humanitarian NGOs' of exploiting the label 'universal human rights values' to promote politically and ideologically motivated…Read More... | 10 Comments
As Im Tirzu takes its opponents to court, a troubling picture of the inspiration of its leader emerges Yesterday, the defense in the trial of Im Tirzu vs. the Facebook group “Im Tirzu – a fascist movement” presented its depositions. The plaintiff is the infamous right-wing group, the defendants are a group of leftist activists, the issue is libel. It began in 2010 when Ronen Shoval, chairman of Im Tirzu, sent the following email to Roy Yellin, who started the group: Hello Roy, From perusal of the Facebook page “Im Tirzu – a Fascist movement” it seems you created it.…Read More... | 5 Comments
In response to Desmond Tutu’s call on the Capetown Opera Company to cancel their 2010 tour in Israel, director Michael Williams said, “arts and academics are never the right place to boycott.” These words jumped into my mind this week as I read of the organization Im Tirzu’s demonstrations against actor and director Mohammad Bakri, and the urging of Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat to ban Bakri from Israeli stages. At present, Bakri is in rehearsals for an interpretation of Frederico Garcia Lorca’s 1936 play, The House of Bernarda Alba, which will run at Tzavta Theater. The participants in…Read More... | 36 Comments
Topping off a lengthy, politically-motivated assault on the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, a new study now reportedly recommends closing the department altogether. According to Yediot Ahronot, an international committee established by Israel’s Council for Higher Education has pointed out a series of professional, academic weaknesses of the department, examining the number of publications, the prestige of the publishers of those publications, the range of courses and programs and the number of lecturers. But the headline of Yediot’s story is the report’s finding that the political bias of the department warrants special concern. According to Yediot:…Read More... | 62 Comments
The protest that sprang up out of the blue against rising rent costs, not started by or backed by any political power, is now described as the greatest challenge PM Netanyahu faces on the home front It happened almost overnight: Friday morning a week ago, walking near Habima Square in central Tel Aviv, I saw only a handful of tents, with no more than a few dozen Israelis who answered an internet call for an ongoing protest against rising rent costs. On Saturday evening the tents covered an entire block on Rothschild Boulevard, and protesters threw cottage cheese containers on…Read More... | 8 Comments
“Nakba Harta?” Historical facts are a stubborn thing, not as malleable as the right-wing propagandists would like Well, at least one good thing came out of Im Tirzu’s latest propaganda pamphlet, written by convicted explosives thief Erez Tadmor and Arel Segal: A re-examination of the flight of Palestinians from Haifa, which the two pointed to as a proof of Jewish purity of arms. An excellent Haaretz article (Hebrew) makes it clear the flight began after the Hagana shelled, on April 22, 1948, Haifa’s market square, after the Palestinians asked for a ceasefire. The shelling killed at least 10 Palestinians -…Read More... | 10 Comments
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