Demonstrators burn an Israeli national flag during an anti-Israel protest.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
B’Tselem will no longer be able to have National-Civilian Service volunteers work in its organization, the National-Civilian Service Authority decided Thursday, saying the NGO engages in anti-Israel activity.
National-Civilian Service Authority director-general Sar-Shalom Djerbi wrote a letter to B’Tselem director-general Hagai El-Ad criticizing the NGO’s “activity against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in Israel and around the world.”
“This is especially relevant now, when the State of Israel is dealing with the threat of thousands of rockets and missiles on millions of its citizens and is in the middle of a comprehensive campaign to remove the threat on its citizens,” Djerbi wrote.
Djerbi said B’Tselem is helping those who delegitimize Israel by lying and inciting against it and the IDF, which he called the most moral army in the world.
“The data and positions the organization disseminates...
encourage our enemies and lead to extreme anti-Semitic expressions against the State of Israel, as well as violent acts of anti-Semitism against Jews around the world,” he added.
As the head of a government authority that is meant to act for the good of Israel and its citizens, Djerbi wrote that he feels he must stop government aid to B’Tselem “which works against the state and its soldiers, who are risking their lives with great courage to ensure peace and security for all citizens, including those who have suffered for many years from rocket fire at their homes, wives and children.”
In addition, Djerbi said B’Tselem refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization, even though Israel, the US and other countries classify it as such.
“There is a clear line between legitimate political opinions in Israel and disseminating and publishing lies and slander, which cause severe damage to Israel and IDF soldiers,” he wrote.
After receiving Djerbi’s letter, B’Tselem released a statement that it “strongly believes that safeguarding human rights is a democratic undertaking indispensable to Israeli society.”
The organization called Djerbi’s letter a “political pamphlet” and said he “exploited an administrative position to attack a human rights organization.”
“In a democracy, the authority to decide what is right and beneficial for society is vested in the citizens, not government functionaries,” the organization stated.
El-Ad wrote to Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach, who oversees National-Civilian Service, and demanded that Djerbi “be replaced with someone who has not forgotten that, in a democracy, disagreements over public issues are resolved through open debate rather than silenced through bureaucracy.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, one of the founders of B’Tselem and its first director-general, also wrote to Orbach and called for Djerbi to be brought to a disciplinary hearing for inciting against the NGO and its workers.
“This is an outrageous decision based on political motives that was made without having the authority to do so and is part of a campaign of incitement and delegitimization against B’Tselem and human rights organizations,” Gal-On said.
A spokesman for the National- Civilian Service Authority said on Thursday that other NGOs that call themselves human rights organizations are included in the list of places Israelis can serve, including Amnesty International and the African Refugee Development Center.