Kadima MK asks to stop National Service in rights NGOs

Hasson says gov't gives funding to NGOs despite testimony to Goldstone Commission; Public Committee Against Torture: MK is "anti-democratic."

June 12, 2011 20:01
2 minute read.
The Knesset adjourning for its spring break.

Knesset session 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) asked over the weekend that Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) put an end to National Service volunteers working in human rights organizations.

“After researching the topic, I found that a number of organizations supported through government allocations [of National Service volunteers] acted to convince the investigative team led by Richard Goldstone to accuse Israel of anti-humanitarian activity and violations of human rights during Operation Cast Lead,” Hasson wrote to Hershkowitz, whose ministry is responsible for National and Civilian Service.

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Some of the organizations advocate the use of universal jurisdiction to prosecute IDF officers and Israeli leaders abroad, and testified before the Goldstone Commission, the Kadima lawmaker said.

One such organization is Doctors For Human Rights – Israel, which “met with Goldstone in Switzerland to present testimony to the committee” and asked the European Union “to bring Israel to court for war crimes and severe human rights violations,” Hasson said.

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel “launched a legal warfare campaign against Israel in 2009,” and therefore, should not be a place for National and Civilian Service, he added. Other organizations mentioned were the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Amnesty International.

Hasson had previously asked Hershkowitz about the phenomenon in an official parliamentary question, and received an answer in writing, and not in the plenum, on March 30, that Hasson said was “irrelevant to the topic.”

Hershkowitz also said he was planning to propose a bill that would list criteria for organizations to receive state funding for participation in the National and Civilian Service program.

Among those criteria is that an organization cannot “reject the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, or support armed struggle or terror against the state, incite to racism, violence or terror.”

In this week’s letter, Hasson said he would consider supporting such a bill, but added: “I am of the opinion that these criteria are not enough to prevent the activities of the organizations mentioned, which harm current and former Israeli officers and undermine Israel’s legitimacy in defending its citizens and fighting terror.”

Ishai Menuchin, the Public Committee Against Torture’s director-general, called Hasson’s letter “anti-democratic.”

“Hasson thinks that the only good place to do National Service is a place that shares his opinions,” Menuchin said. “In a democracy, there should be a variety of opinions and places to serve.”

Menuchin said that out of approximately 13,000 National and Civilian Service volunteers, only 13 serve in the organizations Hasson seeks to block.

“This is not a good enough reason to try to stop us. The majority can’t impose anything it wants on the minority.

“Maybe National Service volunteers should be taken out of right-wing organizations that incite racism and support ‘price tag’ attacks [against Palestinians],” Menuchin said. “Why doesn’t anyone talk about

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