Separation Wall (R370).
(photo credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)
Everyone knows that human rights is the province of the Left and that Zionism
and nationalism belong to the Right – right? The Institute for Zionist
Strategies has been labelled by dogmatic elements of the establishment as a
rightist organization. But why then has such an outfit set up the Blue-White
Human Rights Organization? If one listens to Dr. Ruhama Marton, the founder of
Physicians for Human Rights, or to Yariv Oppenheimer from Peace Now, it is a
cynical maneuver to hijack the cause of human rights and camouflage the evils of
But if one listens to the young Blue-White volunteers at
Kalandiya, Beit Lehem, and other checkpoints, one gets a true insight into the
incredible Zionist resurgence among our youth. For these volunteers, mostly in
their 20s and 30s, get up in the middle of the night and travel tens of
kilometers to make our state a better place, a more humane and responsible
They do not come to confront the security forces.
know that this work saves life and limb. They come to help – to help them
perform as efficiently and humanely as possible. And they come to help
Palestinians cross the checkpoints, to help the sick and infirm, to help those
who show up without the requisite passes, to help the elderly who seem confused,
to help all these and many others.
To the great surprise of some of the
Palestinians, among those who come to help them are volunteers from the same
side of the fence – from Judea and Samaria. Many volunteers wear kippot, most of
the men serve in the reserves. While their political views differ dramatically
from one another, they are all Zionists who believe in the state, in its Jewish
ideals and in its historic mission. And they all come to do good.
Blue-White Human Rights Program also strengthens “purity of arms” by teaching
current and future soldiers (now in high schools) about the IDF code of ethics,
and by providing soldiers with an address to report violations. The BW team has
worked out procedures for alerting responsible officers about problems and for
following up to make sure they have been corrected.
all these activities from those of other human rights organizations is the
desire to contribute constructively. The volunteers do not come with angry
dispositions and hostile goals. They know first-hand that the IDF answers to
high moral standards – standards generated from within, not imposed from without
– a code of behavior that is a source of pride and a badge of
The BW teams thus seek only to help the IDF live up to its
own high ideals. When, for example, abuses at checkpoints occur, they are
reported, corrected and prevented from reoccurring. But the BW teams do not seek
to embarrass, demean or undermine Israel or its security forces. Unlike many of
the others, they work in Hebrew here – not in French, Spanish and English on
websites specially designed to gain international support for boycott,
divestment and sanctions.
Indeed, if anyone needs affirmation of Israel’s
high standard of “purity of arms,” he would do well to see how other democratic
countries meet similar, though dramatically less severe challenges. One should
listen very carefully to President Barack Obama’s May 23 address about the
problems of US drone attacks. As commented on by The New York Times
day, “ ...From now on, the [US] will no longer target individuals or groups of
people... based merely on the suspicion that their location or actions link them
to al- Qaida or other groups allied with the terrorist network.
attacks, referred to as ‘signature strikes,’ have slaughtered an untold number
of civilians and have become as damaging a symbol of American
” So, if human rights does not belong exclusively to the
Left, maybe Jewish-Zionist identity doesn’t belong exclusively to the
Most Israelis who do not identify ethnically with Palestinians or
Arabs, identify themselves as Zionists.
They want Israel to be a Jewish
state. Democratic, certainly, but decidedly Jewish culturally, ethnically, and
religiously in some measure (ranging from negligible to pronounced). People with
Left or liberal views can, and should, pursue their political goals without
sacrificing or diluting their Zionist loyalties. Democracy, civil rights,
economic fairness are all fully consistent with a Jewish state.
Institute for Zionist Strategies always understood that the great center of
gravity was solidly Zionist. The main issue dividing us has been the Palestinian
conflict arising from the ’67 war and the areas liberated or captured during it
(reader’s choice), and this is why the IZS chooses to avoid this divisive issue.
People on both sides of the great divide support our activities.
recent election was the first in memory which was not fought on the
peace-security issue. True, a decision by the government related to renewed
negotiations can rekindle division and passions. But most people now believe
that these negotiations have to be conducted with the Palestinians – not
internally, among ourselves. This presents an opportunity for the great center
to come together and reinforce our Zionist identity and strength. This is why
the Institute for Zionist Strategies is encouraging the passage of the “Basic
Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.”
vision is not the property of the Right any more than championing human rights
belongs to the Left.
The author, an attorney in Israel and the US, is the
founding president of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.