The New Israel Fund, which provides funding to numerous left-wing organizations, launched a provocative campaign on Wednesday designed to counter allegations by right-wing organizations that it operates as a foreign agent.
The campaign, which features an Internet video as well as banners near highways and at bus stops, invokes the image of murdered prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, with the slogan: “A foreign agent who has already been taken care of [by the right wing].”
In November 1995, Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv by a far-right nationalist opposed to his peace policies.
“We are subjected to a severe wave of incitement against human and civil rights organizations in Israel,” said attorney Talia Sasson, president of the NIF.
“As far as we are concerned, the campaign is a warning sign before the next political murder, which might be waiting around the corner. Similar to the situation before Rabin’s murder, the incitement comes from above,” she said.
She added: “The intimidation, exclusion and incitement are designed to divert the discussion from dealing with the real challenges facing Israel: education, welfare, reducing the gaps and the occupation – and we are directing a spotlight toward these risky practices.”
The NIF video clip, which is titled “The Inciters,” claims that recent accusations made by right-wing groups are designed to incite individuals to commit acts of political violence, similar to the statements made in the weeks and months preceding the Rabin murder.
“Incitement to violence is their modus operandi, and they know exactly what they are doing,” the NIF’s YouTube video says. “In order to promote their extreme right-wing ideology, they don’t care if they incite and encourage violence against the rest.”
“But there is just one thing they didn’t take into account – without Arabs, leftists, secular people, Tel Aviv residents, LGBT and the poor, there would be no Israel,” the narrator on the video says. “Israel is us.”
The video came as a response to a controversial clip produced last month by the right-wing group Im Tirzu, accusing the heads of four of Israel’s leading human rights organizations of being foreign agents funded by Europe and supporting Palestinians “involved in terrorism.”
The clip also said the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and the European Union, all of which provide funding to Israeli NGOs, are complicit.
The groups accused are B’Tselem; the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel; Breaking the Silence, which collects anonymous testimony from Israeli soldiers; and the Center for the Defense of the Individual.
Im Tirzu director-general Matan Peleg accused the NIF on Wednesday of “using millions of dollars to support extremist organizations that incite against IDF soldiers and chase after officers, promote boycotts against Israeli products and aim to isolate Israel in the world.”
According to Peleg, the NIF is trying to defend itself following news reports showing that activist Ezra Nawi bragged about turning in Palestinians who sold land to Israelis to the Palestinian Authority, where such sales carry the death penalty, and that NIF-supported organizations such as B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights paid Nawi.
“We’re happy the NIF is wasting its money on embarrassing public campaigns instead of incitement against the State of Israel and its soldiers,” he added.
Peleg also condemned the use of Rabin in the campaign, saying that it pains him to see the disrespect for the former prime minister’s memory.
“Rabin would turn over in his grave if he knew how strong the foreign agent anti-Zionist organizations have become in Israel,” he stated.
MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), who proposed the “foreign agents bill” in support of which Im Tirzu launched its campaign, said of the NIF signs: “When they don’t have answers, when they don’t know how to deal with the truth, they go in that direction.
“We need to distance ourselves from the extremist, delusional Left, just like we do from people like that on the Right,” he added. “The embrace that these organizations receive from so-called defenders of democracy stains the entire Left. The time has come for this entire House to join hands and say: We distance ourselves from these crazy margins.”
MK Amir Ohana (Likud) said the NIF campaign reminds him “of signs that tiny parties on the Left wave that say ‘We are the 99 percent.’ “The truth is that the vast majority of the public, including those they claim to represent, are disgusted by most of the fund’s activities, by the organizations it supports, which slander Israel in the world by telling lies, and by its goal to build an additional enemy state adjacent to our homes and cities,” he said.