Demostration against the proposed "Nakba Law" / Photo by Oren Ziv, Activestills.org
CWP published a new report today, titled “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy.” This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy.
The report was published in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and English.
“In the past two years, CWP has witnessed a growing wave of assaults on Israeli peace and human rights NGOs, and delegitimization and persecution of Jewish and Palestinian human rights defenders,” states the report. “According to our research and analysis, the assault on Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009, and the subsequent Goldstone Report, increased and accelerated international pressure on Israel to end the occupation. Thus, voices of resistance within Israel, and the support and information they provide to international bodies and to the global peace movement, have become a strategic threat to the continued enforcement of the occupation. Silencing them has therefore become a primary goal for the Israeli government and Knesset and for right-wing movements within Israel.”
CWP’s “Israel Against Democracy” focuses on the deterioration of democratic standards within Israel, and on the growing political violence towards Palestinian citizens of Israel, political activists, human rights activists, and civil society organizations. This current deterioration, manifested in a wave of racist, discriminatory and anti-democratic legislation as well as in the State’s strengthened repression and violence apparatuses, appears on the backdrop of a hostile public atmosphere, cultivated by the media, senior politicians and extreme-right organizations.
In this campaign we disseminate information on these political assaults and use various legal and public tools, locally and internationally, to block anti-democratic policies. At the same time, we provide assistance to organizations and groups that suffer from political persecution and provide practical tools for activists to manage the situation and to maintain their individual and organizational security.
Nationalist movements have existed in Israel since its very foundation, but current period is unique in the establishment and expansion of organizations, whose primary target is incitement against human rights and left-wing organizations and the Palestinian public. These organizations provide the infrastructure for the public delegitimization of the Palestinian citizens Israel, civil society organizations, and political activists, both Palestinians and Jews. These organizations are well-connected to governmental institutions, partly through the large number of MKs from extreme-right parties sitting in the Knesset. Their provocative and well-funded media actions often turn into racist and anti-democratic Knesset bills.
The Eighteenth Knesset is the most dangerous Knesset ever elected in Israel. It is a parliament in which members compete against each other on a daily basis in proposing anti-democratic and nationalistic bills. An increasing number of forms of democratic protest and civil criticism are perceived as renegade or as treason and undergo criminalization. Public figures, including politicians and high-ranking officials in the security establishment, do not shy away from racist statements and public attacks on peace and human rights organizations.
This overt persecution in the public and political spheres goes hand in hand with the actions of the police and the secret service (Shin Bet). The Israeli police is heavy handed in repressing demonstrations and other forms of resistance to government policies, while the secret service operates under a paradigm that seeks to thwart the activities of those interested in challenging or changing Israel’s character as a Jewish state, even if their activities are legal.
The judicial system’s sweeping support for the security forces is manifested in the closing of investigations regarding the murder of civilian protesters in October 2000; systematic prevention of the investigation of complaints regarding violence and torture by secret service investigators; and cooperation with the demands of the secret service to prevent detainees from meeting with lawyers.
But the report ends with the somewhat optimistic conclusion that: “The rise of such a coordinated offensive against the forces fighting the occupation, specifically at this moment in time, indicates the success of the local and global movements against the occupation [...] This means that Israel will sooner or later have to address the criticism it attempts to suppress today.” The report marks the launch of a new CWP campaign responding to this political persecution.