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Democracy, delegitimization and denial in Israel

By Aeyal Gross

Does the decision to form a parliamentary committee to investigate Israeli human rights groups mark the end of Israeli democracy? I would rather consider it as another nail in the coffin. Early in 2010 I wondered whether we are seeing the end of Israeli democracy. Indeed, the investigative committee is only a part of a wider phenomenon of attempts to silence and de-legitimize criticism and protest.

The question of whether Israel could be described as a democracy is not a new one. Mostly, it is the long term occupation that cast a doubt on Israel’s nature as such. By turning from a temporary to an indefinite situation (an issue I addressed in detail in this co-authored article), the occupation undermined even the most fundamental principle of democracy, i.e. consent of those governed. Clearly the discrimination and exclusions of Palestinians even within Israel proper, as well as other questions of ethnic and class exclusions stain Israeli democracy, but in the context of the occupation it is impossible to even talk of the existence of a minimalist concept of democracy.

The regime of violent control of the occupied territories, where two populations live, subject to a different system of laws, with one (the settlers) dispossessing the other (the Palestinians) with the full cooperation of the occupying power, could not be described as a democracy. And the distinction in this case between democracy within Israel proper (with all of its own problems) and the occupied territories collapsed as the occupation became longer. Human rights groups as well as scholars have been questioning whether Israel’s description as a democracy is viable for a while now.

What, then, has changed? I believe the most central change is that until recently one thought that it is at least possible to relatively freely report and protest injustices and human rights violations. Of course, even in this context freedom of speech was relative. Jews enjoyed more of it that Arabs, and any one researching Israeli constitutional law can see the different attitude taken by the Israeli Supreme Court to cases involving speech by Jews vs. speech by Arabs. In recent years we have seen more threats to the freedom of speech of Palestinians even within Israel.

But in spite of this discrimination, the possibility to report and protest what’s going on existed on a relatively consistent level. The shift we are witnessing in the last few years is an attack on freedom of speech, in way that aims to allow the deepening of the violations of other human rights, and the worsening of the oppression inherent to the occupation, including the attacks on civilian population, and the dispossession and discrimination.

This is done through the attack on the possibility to report and protest wrongs, and by the creation of a threatening environment, where it is implied that those who engage in criticism, may be subject to investigation (including by the proposed committee) and even in some cases imprisonment. What we are witnessing now is an attempt to trample on one of the few remaining elements of democracy, the freedom of speech that allowed reporting and protesting atrocities. And diminishing this freedom of speech will only allow the deepening of other human rights violations, which some hope will go unnoticed, unreported and without protest. One of the reasons that freedom of speech is crucial is the fact that it allows to at least attempt and create some accountability. From this perspective, indeed human rights are interdependent and indivisible.

The attack on freedom of speech is not only in the form of the parliamentary investigation. It is joined by many other steps, some of which I have discussed in previous posts. Among them, the attacks on Israeli academia by groups who are supposedly examining whether university instruction is “patriotic” enough, and the fact that the Knesset education committee even bothered to conduct discussion of these “reports”; the harsh attack on human rights groups and on the New Israel Fund by a few groups who pretend to “monitor” human rights groups, but actually are engaged in attempts to de-legitimize them; the arrests of demonstrators in East Jerusalem, both those protesting the dispossession of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and those protesting the discrimination of women in the Western Wall; the arrests of some of the leaders of the protests in Bil’in as well as the violence towards those demonstrators, ending more than once in death; and the recent sentencing of Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak to jail for a demonstration against the Gaza War.

It seems that the idea of the current Knesset investigation is so obviously wrong, that it hardly needs refuting. And yet, it is worth mentioning that Israel has a Registrar of Associations which is trusted with supervising the proper administration and reporting of all NGO’s, and that those are mandated as it is by law to submit financial reports, and to specifically pronounce on their websites (see here for example) any donations that they receive from “foreign political entities”. So there is no lack of transparency or information about the sources of funding for the human rights groups, as alleged by those advocating the investigation. Indeed a declaration by Israel’s leading human rights groups stated that “we have nothing to hide; you are welcome to read our reports and publications”.

Perhaps at this time it is not superfluous to also recall that it is the Knesset’s role, as Israel’s parliament, to oversee the executive, not the human rights groups. There is a supreme duty to maintain the independence of human rights groups who are supposed to point to human rights violations by the government (and also in relevant cases by private actors), and it is clear that subjecting these groups to such an inquiry threatens this independence.  Clearly Israel also has a police which is authorized to investigate any violations of the law. It is clear then that all that is left for this parliamentary committee is a political “investigation”, or in the words of none other than the Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, a Likud MK himself, a show trial. Indeed, the results of the investigation have already been pronounced in advance by Foreign Minister Liberman’s whose party was the major force in advocating it, when he said human rights groups “aid terrorism”. One may recall the scene in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, when the King, “for about the twentieth time that day”, suggested that the jury be let to consider the verdict, but the queen insists that “Sentence first – verdict afterwards”. In the case of this “investigation” it seems that both verdict and sentence have been decided in advance.

The turning point for the changes described here occurred with the war in Gaza and the Goldstone Report that followed. Even if as I discussed before, the Goldstone report may be criticized and is not perfect, then the total and orchestrated attack on it, as I have previously written elsewhere, attempted to de-legitimize Goldstone for the purpose of preventing a debate regarding the killings of civilians by Israel in Gaza. The Gaza war, as well as the flotilla incident, thus marked the culmination of a process where the gap between growing internal and external criticism of Israel’s activities and policies, especially in regard to the occupied territories on one hand, and the belief of many or actually most Israelis that all of Israel’s actions are justified on the other hand, was no longer sustainable. The way to contain this gap ever since then is by attempting to dismiss all criticism as biased, unreliable, treacherous, and in some cases anti-Semite, and also to try to silence through different measures that will create a chilling effect, including this investigation.

The attacks on the academy, the recent political trials of activists, and the parliamentary investigation of human rights groups must thus all be understood as part of this process. The success of these attacks is manifested inter alia in the diversion of the discussion from the message to the messenger. When the occupation and the violations associated with it are joined by attempts to silence reporting and criticism, then the attack on democracy is even graver. It has been reported [Hebrew] that there are other measures against NGO’s that are being planned ahead, such as cutting off the activities of human rights groups in public schools, and the abolishment of tax exemption for donations to human rights groups. To that one should add the recent wave of racism in Israeli society and the growing number of racist bills proposed in the Knesset which join a few proposed anti-democratic bills.

To recap, the results of this attack are:

>>The diversion of the discussion from the criticism and the human rights violations to discussion of the messenger (be it Goldstone or the NGO’s, whose funding, objectivity etc are being discussed).

>>De-legitimating of human rights groups and thus a denial of human rights violations especially in the context of the occupation; this allows in turn continuing these violations while avoiding public discussion of them and diverting public opinion from criticizing them.

>>An attempt to silence or at least to create a chilling effect that will deter human rights groups, (and also academics and others), from expressing dissent.

In order to understand how Israel reached this situation, one must go back in time to the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000. In a nutshell, one should recall that after 2000 a meta-narrative took dominance in Israeli society, according to which Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians very “generous” offers in Camp David, which they rejected, and instead attacked Israel with terror. This is joined by the narrative according to which Israel’s ending of the occupation in Gaza was responded to with rockets fired into Israel. The supposed conclusion from these narratives is that Israel does not have a partner for peace, and the full blame for the situation is that of the Palestinians. This narrative is extremely hard to pierce in Israeli society, notwithstanding the many things published on the problematic nature of Barak’s proposals in Camp David, on the fact that the beginning of the Second Intifada was typified by Israelis killing Palestinians and not the opposite, and that the occupation of Gaza has not ended but was rather transformed [PDF]. (None of the above should imply that Palestinians do not have any responsibility for the turn of things, or that terrorism and firing of rockets at civilians are not wrong both morally and legally, and to deny that these actions by Palestinians created much damage not only to Israelis but also to the Palestinians themselves).

As has been shown by researchers such as Daniel Dor, Israeli media often partakes in creating and reinforcing this narrative. This is true regarding the beginning of the second Intifada but was also apparent in the flotilla incident, and during the recent killing of a demonstrator in Bil’in, where the Israeli press seemed to advance the army’s version of events even more than the IDF spokesperson himself.

When the prevailing view in Israel is that all of what Israel does is legitimate and amounts to defensive action, while some of the Israeli public and much of the world refuses to accepts the widespread killings of civilians and the ongoing occupation and dispossession, it seems that indeed the only way for Israel to engage with the criticism is by interpreting it as being part of unfair persecution of Israel. It is twice ironic that the criticism of Israel is now being dismissed as attempting to de-legitimize Israel.  First because this approach creates an identification between the occupation and related Israeli policies and Israel, and second because it is actually the attempts to silence dissent, rather than its existence, that is delegitimizing Israel. If until recently Israel enjoyed credit because much of the world perceives it as a democracy which allows open debate and that is typified by vibrant civil society, then recent developments are causing it to gradually lose this credit.

How do we get out of this situation? Carlo Strenger describes a “vicious circle of paranoia” where anxiety is translated into hatred and suspicion, which disrupts communication with the outside world and internal groups designated as enemies and where politicians are pressured into conforming to right wing demands to fall in line in the face of impending doom, and are desperately afraid to be seen as traitors if they point out that there might be more cooperative modes of action. He considers that given the alternative of escalation, international pressure toward change is now the lesser of two evils. But beyond the issue of international pressure, the question remains whether society in Israel will open its eyes to these processes and start demanding change. The apathy and silence of many parts of Israeli society are extremely worrying. It is almost hard to believe that this is the same society where 400,000 took to the streets after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982. Today, too few are willing to speak out and be active against the growing McCarthyism, fascism and racism. But maybe the decision to investigate human rights groups will backfire at its initiators in a way that will ignite some change. This investigation was harshly criticized not only by the Speaker of the Knesset but also by three other senior Likud MK’s (Begin, Eitan and Meridor). By the way their reaction was much stronger than that of the head of opposition, Zipi Livni, who did speak out against the investigation, but it was too little and too late, especially given the fact that some MK’s from her Kadima party actually supported it in the vote held in the Knesset’s plenary.

However, perhaps the fact that this “investigation” is a move that is clearly discernable to many, including Israeli elites, as anti-democratic, may help in drawing attention to the fact that it is part of a very troubling and growing process. If this will not happen, things may only get worse. This is also the time for cooperative action, (without much ideological purism), of all who support democracy and equality on one hand, and oppose racism and the continuation of the occupation on the other hand. Let’s hope that many will realize that, in the words of Ed Murrow, this is not the time to keep silent, that we cannot escape responsibility, and that “[t]here is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities”. The rally taking place in Tel-Aviv tonight will be hopefully a step in this direction. In the hard battle for democracy in Israel this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, and I fear in this case, it is not even the end of the beginning.

Prof. Aeyal Gross teaches international and constitutional law in Tel-Aviv University; he is currently also a Visiting Reader in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. A Hebrew version of this post was published on his blog.

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    1. Louis Frankenthaler

      Indeed now is not the time to be silent and we must welcome those who, too little, too banal and too late, finally lend their voices to the opposition to the investigations and to the brutality against democracy (the democracy in doubt that is, as I have heard it described by a well respected Israeli constitutional scholar). But where are these voices in respect to the core issues that have lead to this dangerous moment… it is a moment with a past and a future. the Committee has not just appeared from no place and no time. It appears because for decades some of those same voices who opposed Lieberman lately have fed the Occupation, the racism and the Jewish Chauvinism that has guided our political enterprise for too long. Either they vocally supported it or they were far too Silent! Where have the Jewish religious movements been? Is opposition to the evils of the Occupation too political? Was marching with Dr. King too political? Where has the audacity gone?

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    2. maayan

      It would be helpful, if while fighting supposedly anti-Democratic movements inside Israel, those who were fighting didn’t also try to delegitimize and vilify Israel, its democracy and its society. It would also be helpful if they acknowledged the truth that Israel is in a state of war with real enemies who seek its destruction, including many Palestinians and certainly their leadership. The problem, in no small part, is that by denying or minimizing these truths, many left-wing NGOs and pro-Palestinians in Israeli society are seriously weakening Israel, and essentially joining forces with those who seek to harm it. That may not be the intention of these people and groups, but that is the outcome of their activities and often they know it and actively seek this outcome.
      Gross suggests that the “Israeli narrative,” as he calls it, of what happened in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2008, is flawed. However, it is actually correct and accurate, which is why Israel’s media and many of its citizens support this history (it is not a narrative). In other words, it’s not a conspiracy of ignorance or lies, it is based on reality and events which, for good reason have influenced Israel and Israelis to be much more realistic about the challenges of achieving peace and the fact that they are involved in an ongoing war.
      Even if one accepts the premise that the Camp David offer was insufficient, it was an important, historic offer by Israel and after the Palestinians received that offer it was incumbent upon them to negotiate in good faith, instead of starting a war.
      Instead,the Palestinians launched their war against Israel, a war that only abated after Israel went back into Area A and set up numerous new defensive measures including checkpoints and the security barrier, which are a key focus of what the groups attacking Israel criticize.
      It has to be noted that the war against Israel persisted even after the Barak offer at Taba which was a much more comprehensive and impressive offer of peace than Camp David. It is also important to realize that a second PM, from a different political party and background, Ehud Olmert, also went as far as to match Barak’s offer and sweeten it with an internationalized Holy Basin. This was a mere two years ago. Two years before that, the supposedly anti-democratic Israel elected Kadima into power on a platform of unilateral evacuation of most of Judea and Samaria.
      As Saeb Erakat pointed out in an interview to an Arab paper, the Palestinian strategy of waiting and rejection has worked splendidly since Israel has conceded more and more land and other benefits to the Palestinians over the past decade. What he didn’t add, however, is that waiting has also permitted the Palestinians to be and depict themselves as Israel’s “victims” for years, a situation which buys them credibility and sympathy while further weakening Israel.
      If only the Palestinians were just waiting, however. They aren’t. As they wait for offers they reject anyway, they are also conducting a multi-pronged war against Israel. Their tactics include delegitimization of Israel in the West, boycotts, diplomatic isolation, and numerous blood libels that tap into a hidden vein of antipathy toward Jews among many populations. In Israel they use democratic laws and freedom of expression to battle Israel, with many left-wing NGOs and activists solidly in their corner. For example, Adallah demands that Israeli government and society should conduct themselves according to the Palestinian version of 1948. That this undermines the concept of Jewish self-determination doesn’t concern them in the least even if the Jewish state subsidized their legal education and other Jews fund their movement. They team up with other groups to deplore Israel’s supposed apartheid, just like Omar Barghouti who studies at Tel Aviv University while traveling the world leading the BDS movement. The hypocrisy of attacking Israel from within for its undemocratic nature even as they do it inside Israel thanks to Israel’s educational system and laws governing freedom of expression, is immaterial to them.
      That’s because they know they are fighting a war.
      Is it really undemocratic for Israelis to recognize they are being challenged from within by people and groups who are siding, openly or indirectly, with Israel’s enemies and to challenge those steps? No. It is undemocratic to treat these groups differently than Israel treats right-wing groups, but in the same way that NGOs and activists scrutinize, criticize and intentionally attack Israel (I speak of both right and left groups), there is every reason for Israel and Israelis to scrutinize who is doing this to them and why.
      Along those lines, it can’t be right that Irving Moskowitz is vilified for interfering with Israel and Israeli life while Adallah or B’Tzelem aren’t. They deserve to be checked and criticized just like him or those he supports if these leftist NGOs or activists receive funding from a Muslim bank that supports anti-Israel causes, or from foreign governments.
      It is wrong to only investigate groups on the left and not the right, but it is not wrong to ask them ALL for full and open transparency.
      Even B’Tzelem tried to backtrack somewhat after Goldstone issued his report and their information had helped him to conclude (falsely, of course) that Israel had targeted civilian Palestinians on purpose. B’Tselem was shocked and rejected this conclusion, which has harmed Israel to no end and will continue to harm Israel to no end. However, B’Tselem had facilitated this report. Why is it that they should be able to support this type of report, with its many flaws – such as coming to wrong conclusions on the basis of flawed B’Tzelem assessments of the ratio of dead Palestinian civilians to fighters, or accepting tainted testimony of Palestinians who the Goldstone Committee knew to be under pressure from Hamas – without being scrutinized? And even if they are not scrutinized, how is Israeli society less democratic or more accepting of “racism” or “fascism” because it seeks to understand who is behind these attacks and Israeli society rejects the attacks and their source?
      To conclude and tie all of this to what Gross wrote, perhaps instead of blaming Israel or Israelis for “attempts to silence and de-legitimize criticism and protest” or Israel losing its democracy, we can recognize that the nature of the war against Israel has shifted into a war of delegitimization and isolation. Israel and Israeli society are justifiably wary of the efforts to delegitimize them, and recognize that the state and its democracy, as well as its Jewish right to self-determination, are under attack. If one fights back FAIRLY against this, and by fairly I mean that all sides receive the same scrutiny, this is not indicative of absence of democracy or an immoral stance.

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    3. So, Maayan, Israel is a pure victim that only wants peace and has the best of intentions? Is that your claim?

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    4. maayan

      Lisa, I just re-read what I wrote and it seems straightforward enough. I’m sure after a few attempts, you’ll understand it as well.

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    5. Oh, Maayan, even for you that was a silly response. You are clearly running out of hasbara pages; and I, like many others, am grateful.

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    6. Maayan- my response to your comment on my essay is verbatim your response to Lisa. You should pay attention to what I say and what I don’t.

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    7. Monster

      Maayan, it seems you like to view the glass as half-empty. You are hopeful for peace, but on what terms? What more would you ask Palestinians to concede to the Jewish majority? Their dignity? Gone. Their right to self-determination? Gone. Their political process? Undermined – Hamas was legitimately elected in Gaza and this isn’t good enough for Israel, resulting in blockades, sanctions, and Operation Cast Lead? What more do you want from a people with nothing but their souls, the shirts on their backs, and the hope that humanity will regain its sanity and make things right?

      Why can the two parties simply not coexist – in a united nation with one flag, equal rights, and a constitution to protect those rights equally? It can easily be summed up in one word: racism.

      I am not a Jew, nor am I an Arab. I am a white American and admittedly, I am not nearly as educated as Aeyal Gross, Lisa Goldman, or any of the +972 contributors. I may not know the truth, but I know when I am being lied to. I know it is a lie to infer that Israel is the victim in the peace process, and that its desire is peace with its Arab population. I know it is a lie to dismiss Richard Goldstone as a biased anti-Semite with an ax to grind against Israel; that is tantamount to calling me an anti-American traitor because I wish not to see more Afghanis killed in my name. It is simply illogical.

      I grow tired of the double standards. When will the Palestinian struggle be good enough? When can we move beyond the futile attempt to have a purely Jewish state in Israel, rather than having a vibrant democracy with equal rights for all? Has its American life support system taught Israel nothing?

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    8. maayan

      Lisa, I don’t do “hasbara” but you do propaganda. What I write are my own conclusions based on reading both right and left sources. For example, you’ll note that I’m on your site reading the commentary of numerous leftists. You, on the other hand, dismiss out of hand anything that doesn’t play into your world-view. Remember when you posted supposed eyewitness testimony of Jawaher’s death and you dismissed the three discrepancies I identified? Then you didn’t bother dismissing the fourth testimony I quoted which also differed from the other three?

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    9. maayan

      Aryeh, my first paragraph is directly linked to what you wrote. It explains the challenge facing those who you claim are being de-legitimized and explains something which you didn’t touch upon in your article, namely that the perceived and de facto support of Israel’s enemies is what causes and strengthens the attacks upon them. When you write that all those who support democracy, regardless of ideology, have to come together to combat new phenomena in Israel’s political and social realms, I am contributing to your thesis by positing that one of the key issues that stand in the way of having the larger population of Israel support criticism of left-wing groups is this perception that they are, in fact, supporting Israel’s enemies.

      My next 4 paragraphs, after the break, speaks directly to your statement explaining how things have come to be this way in Israel. You write, “The SUPPOSED conclusion from these NARRATIVES is that Israel does not have a partner for peace, and the full blame for the situation is that of the Palestinians. This narrative is extremely hard to pierce in Israeli society, notwithstanding the many things published on the problematic nature of Barak’s proposals in Camp David, on the fact that the beginning of the Second Intifada was typified by Israelis killing Palestinians and not the opposite, and that the occupation of Gaza has not ended but was rather transformed [PDF].”
      Since you are claiming that this “narrative” dominates Israelis’ perceptions, and then provide so-called arguments against this perception, I debate the notion that this is a “narrative,” that it is false or that the Palestinians are not playing exactly the game the Israeli public and leadership fear they are. Mr. Erakat is quite clear on this.
      I then tie this in to the kind of movements that participate in this Palestinian attack on Israel, groups such as Adallah and B’Tzelem. While you didn’t specify groups in your article, these are the groups that Lieberman et al are targeting, as you well know. I simply seek to remind you how and why their actions are part of the war on Israel and why they are perceived that way by the public.

      Later you write, “The apathy and silence of many parts of Israeli society are extremely worrying. It is almost hard to believe that this is the same society where 400,000 took to the streets after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982. Today, too few are willing to speak out and be active against the growing McCarthyism, fascism and racism.”
      In another discussion on this site, one of this site’s authors just called Israel’s High Court “your court,” as if to say that it’s my court but not his because it is an unjust court. You and he hit on the biggest issue in Israel today. While left-wing groups and activists (as well as far-right ones, by the way) feel extremely comfortable attacking Israeli institutions, society, politicians, army and history, in effect they are joining forces with Israel’s enemies both at home and abroad. If they were to recognize this and approach their criticism of Israel by including themselves as part of the collective “we,” instead of excluding themselves and pointing their fingers at the others while hysterically (but convincingly, since they are the “good” Israelis) yelling “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “murder,” “fascism,” “racism,” then you will perhaps achieve your reasonable goal of “society in Israel will open its eyes to these processes and start demanding change.”
      Sorry, but my comment, while long, was a direct response to what you wrote. And didn’t write.

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    10. Maayan, I did not dismiss any discrepancies. I just pointed out that you were wrong in believing there were any. So did Noam. You clearly do not know the terrain and layout of Bil’in.

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    11. maayan

      I clearly do. I have actually seen dozens and dozens of videos, most of them recorded by pro-Palestinian and Palestinian activists from Bili’in. I realize they are biased, but after a while, you get a pretty good sense of the layout of the place. That has nothing to do with one eyewitness recalling a garden while another eyewitness listing no garden and a different house altogether. There were 4 eyewitness testimonies and they were all in conflict. I’m not even saying that Jawaher wasn’t killed by Israel, I’m just saying that there is plenty of room to question what happened.

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    12. You should go to Bil’in. Right now, you’re just talking nonsense.

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    13. maayan

      Lisa, just say you disagree with me. I’m not, however, talking nonsense. I’ve backed up everything I’ve written with links and if you like I can provide more evidence as to anything else I publish here. I quoted YOUR essay and a New York Times article by Isabel Kershner to demonstrate the discrepancies in the stories told by 4 eye-witnesses. Noam’s attempt to show that the layout of the area might explain such oversights was not convincing, and certainly not as convincing as the premise that these eyewitnesses were just “eyewitnesses.”

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    14. Actually, you rarely provide credible evidence to support your claims. In the cases where you have provided links to articles or even legal sources, I have already demonstrated that they do not support your claims. You make erroneous, unsupported claims that require a great deal of time to refute. You then ignore or respond disingenuously to factual refutations. That is why, as I wrote earlier today in another thread, I won’t bother to respond to your comments anymore and will delete your comments on my own channel.

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    15. maayan

      Okay, let’s take one example. You, Lisa, said that ACRI is not a leftist organization and by showing that they win a majority of their cases, I wasn’t providing evidence that leftist groups have a high success ratio in the courts. So let’s look at ACRI. ACRI, I believe you will agree, is the equivalent of the ACLU in the US. While the ACLU most certainly defends the right of, say, Neo-Nazis to demonstrate, I think you’d be hard-pressed to show that it isn’t a left-wing organization.
      Let’s look at ACRI’s key issues (http://www.acri.org.il/eng/Story.aspx?id=104):
      Gender Equality
      Gay and Lesbian Issues
      Freedom of and from Religion
      Freedom of Expression
      Citizenship Law
      Equality for Arab Citizens
      Migrant Rights
      Occupied Territories

      Look at their page linked above and you’ll see that the largest group of judgments they secured relate to the Occupied Territories, including opposition to torture, and then another 9 that affect either Arab Israelis or Palestinians who want to become Arab Israelis. I realize you want to claim that this isn’t a leftist agenda, and that’s fine with me, but I think most reasonable people would view this slate of cases as leftist in orientation.

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    16. Sinjim

      It’s quite interesting that that opposition to torture — and civil liberties in general — are now a part of the “left-wing agenda.” Enlightening comment.

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    17. maayan

      That’s not what I wrote or meant.

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