(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The case of the left-wing activist caught on camera saying he turns in Palestinians who sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority to be tortured and killed shows the need for the NGO transparency bill, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Shaked excoriated organizations that paid Ezra Nawi, the activist working for far-left NGO Ta’ayush who was caught bragging on a hidden camera by an undercover right-wing activist. The clip was broadcast on Channel 2’s Uvda program last week.
Days later, Channel 2 News reported that B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and Rabbis for Human Rights paid Nawi for work, such as organizing demonstrations by Palestinians.
“You accuse IDF soldiers of blindfolding terrorist suspects, while you close your eyes and back someone suspected of helping kill an innocent person,” Shaked said. “After so many declarations that are detached from reality about actions that ‘remind you of dark periods in history,’ you can’t see the darkness that took you over... the moral plague of darkness that befell you.”
Referring to Nawi’s criminal past, Shaked added: “You call returning parts of its historic homeland to the Jewish People ‘colonialism,’ meaning to criticize Israel, but in the same breath, you don’t mind saying that a pedophile convicted of sodomizing a 15-year-old minor ‘rules.’” Shaked compared the organizations’ names to “newspeak” from George Orwell’s 1984, saying they do the opposite of what they claim.
B’Tselem, whose name comes from the Biblical idea that all humans are created in the image of God, “cannot even manage to criticize its activist who is suspected of harming an innocent man created in the image of God. Why?...
Can’t a person who sold land to Jews also be defined as a person? Are you so hateful? Did politics make you lose your minds to that extent?” Shaked asked.
As for Rabbis for Human Rights, Shaked said they forgot that “do not murder” is one of the Ten Commandments.
“Did you forget that aspect of Jewish law?” she asked. “You cannot call yourselves an organization of rabbis or people who care about human rights.”
Rabbis for Human Rights issued a statement that it froze its ties with Nawi in light of the Uvda report; however, the organization’s leader, Rabbi Arik Asherman, went to Nawi’s trial this week, to support him.
Shaked pointed out that Ta’ayush means “coexistence” in Arabic, and wondered if they meant coexistence between torturer and victim.
The Justice Minister’s speech was part of her response to a motion to the agenda about the ramifications of the Uvda report.
In the short term, she pointed out that there are police investigations of the incidents, and called for patience.
Nawi was arrested trying to leave the country on Monday.
In the long term, Shaked said, her NGO transparency bill is the answer.
The bill would require all organizations that are mostly funded by a foreign government to identify as such in all published materials. The Justice Ministry plans to adopt an article from a related private member bill proposed by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) that would require representatives of the organizations to wear a special tag when visiting the Knesset, like lobbyists do.
“More transparency in this area will be good for all of us,” Shaked said. “We saw what a little exposure did in the public discourse in Israel, and I have no doubt that increased and constant transparency over time, as I am promoting in the transparency bill, will successfully create a healthier discourse in Israeli society.”