Lieberman: Leftist NGOs are aiding terror groups

FM accuses "national camp" colleagues of hypocrisy for speaking out against inquiry into funding of groups; Livni calls statements part of "bad atmosphere sweeping country."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lashed out harshly at left-wing organizations and their supporters Monday, in statements that his opponents said added to a mood of incitement prevalent in the country.
Lieberman condemned the NGOs targeted by a proposed parliamentary committee of inquiry as “aiding terror groups” and called right-wing politicians who opposed the establishment of the committee “traitors” to the national camp.
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During a televised faction meeting on Monday afternoon at the Knesset, Lieberman said that “it is clear that these are simply terror-aiding organizations, whose entire goal is to weaken the IDF and its determination to protect Israel’s citizens.”
Lieberman presented a long list of allegations against a number of organizations, citing the New Profile organization, Adalah, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel as submitting incomplete funding reports to government oversight agencies, and suggesting that they had intentionally concealed funding sources.
The foreign minister also slammed Human Rights Watch, which he accused of fundraising in Saudi Arabia by promising to attack Israel while not examining the state of human rights in Arab countries.
“In June 2006, six organizations – B’Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights, Yesh Din, Hamoked, the Public Committee Against Torture, Gisha and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel – wrote a letter to the Goldstone Commission, in which, among other things, it was written that the IDF’s bombardments were directed toward mosques, schools and private residences under the claim that there were weapons hidden, and that the IDF intentionally and consciously prevented aid [from reaching] Palestinians in the field,” Lieberman complained.
In addition, “92% of the quotes against Israel in the Goldstone Report came from Israeli organizations whose funding comes from the New Israel Fund. A day after Operation Cast Lead, [fund president] Naomi Chazan called to stop the attacks on Gaza,” he said.
“When you look at all these facts, you ask yourself why these organizations never, even once, protested [captive soldier] Gilad Schalit’s condition. It is clear that they have no connection to human rights. They have never once claimed that Israel was right. We have an argument with the Palestinians, and at least once, we must have been right, but they have never said that,” he declared.
Lieberman said that in his travels overseas, he had found that many of the arguments against Israel were made by Israeli sources.
“The problem is that they use former Israelis, Israeli organizations and the Israeli media,” he continued, citing the Hebrew daily Haaretz as a source of anti- Israel standpoints overseas.
Lieberman said that the proposal to establish a probe into these organizations’ funding had been intentionally misrepresented in the media.
“People have attempted in the most vitriolic way to present a false picture without facts. I do not mean that organizations for human rights and democracy, nor the organizations for freedom of expression, are in danger,” he claimed. “For example, the Geneva Accord and Peace Now represent political opinions that I find unacceptable, but they have a legitimate opinion that exists within the political discourse.”
He did not, however, reserve his criticism for left-wing bodies.
He also attacked right-wing politicians, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor, Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin, and Government Services Minister Michael Eitan, who all spoke out against the establishment of the parliamentary committee of inquiry that passed its first vote in the Knesset plenum by 41 to 16 last week.
“There are those in the national camp that pretend to be righteous, and in doing so, harm the national camp.
There are leaders on the Right that have turned into the apologists for the Left. They do everything to serve the Left, and they are traitors to the national camp,” Lieberman charged, arguing that the same politicians were responsible for the failure of the national camp to achieve its aims.
“There is hypocrisy in Israeli society not just on the Left, but also the Right. When I saw right-wing MKs voting together with Haneen Zoabi (Balad) and Ahmed Tibi (UAL) against the committee, it was strange,” he said.
Eitan refused to respond to Lieberman’s attack. However, Rivlin angrily responded that he was not a hypocrite, but a stubborn donkey “who does not change his opinion to the Right or to the Left.”
Meridor also continued, undeterred, to criticize the establishment of the committee of inquiry, which was originally proposed by MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu).
Lieberman’s outburst received a near-immediate response from Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, who described the foreign minister’s comments as part of “a bad atmosphere that is sweeping the country.”
“It is the Netanyahu-Lieberman government that is fanning the flames according to its will and with great cynicism, whether by silence or in partnership with some of the forces in the Knesset. They choose the most sensitive topics in the Israeli public,” declared Livni.
“I also am upset at the activities of the organizations,” she continued. “I will criticize their activities and I will act against foreign involvement, but it is our obligation to stand before the wave. To stop the bad atmosphere is not just the role of the Left, but of all those who are committed to Israel and its values.”
Livni asserted that Lieberman’s comments were part of the same trend that led to the threats against Justice Ministry attorney Shai Nitzan.
“When you look at some of the clauses of the different bills, it could all seem logical and reasonable – until you identify the very problematic wave,” she said. “Every day we wake up to another story – and today we heard about the threats against Shai Nitzan, and MK Michael Ben- Ari (National Union), who develops conspiracy theories.
It is impossible to stand by the side and watch this happening.
In the end, it is Israeli society that pays the price.”
Kadima decided during its weekly faction meeting to oppose the proposal to establish the parliamentary committee of inquiry, which is set to appear next before the House Committee for procedural votes. In the original plenum vote, three Kadima MKs voted in favor of establishing the probe.
During a speech on the Knesset floor, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman also blasted the establishment of the committee.
“The Knesset is not a kangaroo court,” said the Labor minister. “It is not its role to silence voices. Recently, the Knesset has knitted together a racist, McCarthyist mix that transcends parties and endangers the State of Israel.”
Braverman asked Rivlin to use all of the means available to him to prevent the establishment of the committee.
The left-wing NGOs themselves were also quick to respond sharply to Lieberman’s allegations.
“Unlike Physicians for Human Rights, there is a police investigation against Avigdor Lieberman,” responded Physicians for Human Rights in a statement released Monday afternoon.
“If Lieberman – or politicians of his type – have suspicions or complaints against us, he is invited to submit them to the police. We have nothing to hide,” the statement continued. “All our efforts for a fair and equal society are run through the hard work of volunteers, doctors from whom Lieberman should learn a thing or two about fairness, humanity and democracy.”
The organization’s director, Dr. Ruchama Marton, added that her organization “works to liberate the State of Israel from destructive influences such as that of Avigdor Lieberman.”
B’Tselem also issued a statement, saying that it “will not be deterred by this kind of assault.”
“Lieberman and his cronies are those who are damaging Israel’s international standing, in their policies as well as their attempts to silence human rights organizations that work fearlessly to save Israeli democracy and our country’s moral fiber,” the organization responded.