As the pro-peace camp has shrunk into oblivion, human rights groups have become the only real anti-occupation force in Israel today. That has made them uncomfortably political.
Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that equality and human rights are not, or should not be, controversial in Israel.
“[It is difficult to accept] the idea that a commercial promoting human rights could be socially or politically controversial,” wrote Justice Anat Baron. “The recognition of and commitment to human rights are intrinsically linked to the very existence of a democratic society.”
The honorable justice must have missed Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s speech to the Israel Bar Association a couple of weeks earlier, in which she decried and called for and end to, “the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.”
The Supreme Court justices who declared human rights uncontroversial must have also missed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy pledge earlier this summer to effectively defund nearly every human rights group operating in Israel.
The court must have been paying attention to more pressing matters over the past few years as the Israeli government, or at least most of it, embarked on a concerted and sustained campaign to paint those who support human rights as foreign agents serving nefarious and seditious agendas.
Perhaps the good judges did not review the results of a 2016 public opinion survey, by +972 Magazine’s own Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, which found that only 45 percent of Jewish Israelis had a favorable opinion of “human rights.” Asked specifically about human rights “organizations,” those favorability numbers dropped to 31 percent — a marked deterioration from a similar survey conducted five years earlier.
Tellingly, among those who identify as right wing, only 25 percent support human rights groups in general, and only 5 percent expressed support for human rights groups that serve Palestinians.
The case that led the Supreme Court to rule that human rights aren’t, or shouldn’t be controversial, was about whether Israel’s oldest civil rights organization, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) could air an advertisement on public television promoting International Human Rights Day. The public broadcaster had taken issue with and pulled the ad, in which a number of Israeli celebrities discuss civil and human rights that are important to them.
Public broadcasting regulations in Israel prohibit advertisements...Read More