Time to cut off Im Tirzu

December 15, 2015

Political discourse is plunging to horrific new lows on our watch.

Let us be clear: J Street condemns incitement in all of its forms and over the past couple of months has repeatedly called on Palestinian leadership to refrain from incendiary statements that seek to fuel or justify violence.

Foreign Agents Revealed Screenshot

Inciting and dangerous rhetoric emanating from the fringes of Israeli society, supported by some here in the United States, is posing a real and present danger not just to Jewish decency and Israeli democracy but potentially to the lives and safety of innocent people.

J Street has long been concerned about campaigns and organizations that seek to delegitimize, silence and incite against Israeli and American activists and against organizations that monitor human rights and oppose occupation.

We’ve watched with increasing concern as these campaigns have extended to attack national figures such as Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and other mainstream politicians from the center of Israeli politics. Having just marked the 20th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, we are all too aware that such incitement can have real consequences.

The time has come for communal and political leaders committed to democracy, freedom and a civil society to step forward, call this behavior out and do what must be done to stop it before we are forced to regret our silence.

The latest horrific example of this trend is a new video by the Israeli NGO Im Tirzu targeting by name and with photos specific leaders of Israeli human rights organizations. With imagery linking them to the recent wave of violence and labeling them traitors and foreign agents, this organization has crossed every conceivable line of decency and acceptance in the Jewish community.

Hagai El-Ad Foreign Agents Revealed Screenshot

It is time for American Jewry to make its voice heard loudly and clearly. Whether we personally agree with the work of Breaking the Silence or the other NGOs targeted or not, we hope there can be near unanimous consensus across the political spectrum that this behavior is outside the bounds of our community’s values and standards.

There is a democratic and Jewish way to conduct the vital debate we need to have at this critical juncture for Israel, the US and the world. But the hateful way in which Im Tirzu pursues its agenda should have no place and no support from the Jewish community here or in Israel.

We call on all Jewish funders, individual and communal, to cease immediately their support for this organization which depends heavily on American funding to pursue its work undercutting Israeli democracy and undermining Jewish values.