Right-wing MKs attending a Knesset Interior Committee meeting Monday accused left-wing NGOs of trying to undermine Israel’s Jewishness by supporting African migrants’ protests.
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The committee discussed where the migrants received funding for their major demonstration in front of the Knesset two weeks ago, shortly after they held another rally of thousands in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
Chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) said: “My goal is to preserve the Jewish and democratic character of Israel because there are NGOs funded by donors from abroad that want to take down the country.”
MK Nachman Shai (Labor) criticized Regev’s assessment.
“No one wants to take down the country; [the migrants] just want to work,” he told Regev. “I don’t want them to stay in the country, either, but we have to do it humanely and not hunt them down.”
MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud Beytenu) said his heart went out to the migrants, yet Israel was unable to accept so many.
MK Zevulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi) called the NGOs the “disease,” and the migrants merely a “symptom.”
“There is a growing phenomenon of organizations making it their goal to change the Jewish state’s character,” Kalfa said.
“The State of Israel is the Jewish State and it cannot be that citizens will feel like they’re under threat in their own country.”
Shai accused Kalfa of wanting a police state, not a Jewish state.
MK Ya’acov Asher (UTJ) warned that the organizations behind the migrant protests also fund the Reform movement and “sponsor campaigns against the Land of Israel as the home of the Jewish people, against religion and tradition and for infiltrators. You don’t have to be a genius to recognize a trend.”
Justice Ministry representatives attending the meeting said that all NGOs must publicize who their donors are as well as the size of their contributions according to a law meant to increase transparency of their activities.
Alon Schwartzer of the Zionist education NGO Im Tirzu said that left-wing NGOs openly seek to keep migrants in Israel.
Schwartzer accused these organizations of having agendas that do not match what they report to the government.
He said an official from the New Israel Fund, the major sponsor of the protests, had once stated that “the disappearance of the Jewish state wouldn’t be a tragedy.”
A representative from the NGO registrar’s office said an organization cannot obtain non-profit status if it opposes the State of Israel as a democratic state, but the law says nothing of its Jewishness.
Regev concluded the meeting by saying that it was the first in a series on the fight to preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic character. She also accused the NGO registrar’s office and attorney- general of ignoring the issue and demanded that they, together with the Foreign Ministry, come to the next meeting with better answers