J Street Strongly Objects to Knesset Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights & Civil Society Organizations

January 6, 2011

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement, criticizing the Knesset’s recent approval of a commission of inquiry into Israeli non-governmental organizations focused on issues of human rights and civil society:

J Street strongly objects to the Knesset’s approval of a commission of inquiry into Israeli human rights and civil society organizations. The proposed commission reeks of McCarthyism and is an affront to fundamental democratic and Jewish values.

As American Jews and supporters of Israel, we believe that Israel must strive to embody the values on which it was founded: democracy, justice, and equality. Unfortunately, yesterday’s political action contradicts those very values, which are in the country’s Declaration of Independence and Law of Human Dignity. We urge the Knesset to stop trying to silence organizations based on ideology and to focus instead on reversing policies that are undermining Israel’s long-term security as a Jewish, democratic homeland.

As Yedioth columnist Boaz Okon writes, “Instead of dealing substantively with the criticism leveled at Israel’s actions in the territories and with regard to minorities and foreigners… an attempt is being made to intimidate those who swim against the current.”

Israel is not delegitimized and its democracy not weakened by important organizations like B’Tselem, Yesh Din and Breaking the Silence, among many others, that are working every day against long odds to combat increasing strands of racism, authoritarianism and McCarthyism emerging throughout Israel’s politics and society.

We will continue to stand with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and activists who are exercising their legitimate democratic rights and working for a strong, democratic Israel at peace with its neighbors. We applaud the members of Knesset and Israeli leaders, including, among others, Knesset speaker Reuben Rivlin, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Ministers Benny Begin and Miki Eitan, and MKs Shlomo Molla and Meir Sheetrit, who have spoken out against this harmful motion.