To disagree with the state is to 'delegitimise' the state: that is the increasingly strident response of the country's political and military establishment to those who dare to criticise its conduct
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
It's hard, sitting on the other side of the office table from which Naomi Chazan is picking at her modest hummus and salad snack lunch, to believe that the amiable 63-year-old university professor with a self-deprecating sense of humour has suddenly become the most discussed, not to say demonised, woman in Israel.
Ms Chazan is president of a long-established agency with large numbers of Jewish donors in the US and Britain, which is committed to fighting for "social justice and equality for all Israelis". The New Israel Fund has over the last 30 years disbursed some $200m to around 800 charitable, social and human rights groups, and justly claims much of the credit for building modern Israel's still vibrant civil society.
But in the last fortnight the former Knesset member who by her own account loves her native Israel "without reservation" has been sacked as a columnist on the Jerusalem Post after 14 years, had rowdy demonstrators outside her house brandishing a chilling caricature of her with a horn obtruding from her forehead, and most far-fetched of all, been accused, in a newspaper article circulated to foreign journalists by the Government Press Office, of "serving the agenda of Iran and Hamas".
The onslaught has prompted Nicholas Saphir, the Jewish businessman who runs the New Israel Fund in the UK, to warn that the "Jewish values of social justice and our duty to tikkun olam (repairing the world) have come under serious threat in the state of Israel".
The row has come to symbolise a new mood of establishment intolerance in Israel towards criticisms by Israeli human rights groups of such episodes as last year's military operation in Gaza. This harsh new mood has been fuelled by ministers, right-wing politicians and military figures who have closed ranks behind accusations that the UN-commissioned report into the war, led by Richard Goldstone, which accused both sides of war crimes, is being used to "delegitimise Israel".
The NIF's travails began when a right-wing group called Im Tirtzu provoked accusations of latterday McCarthyism by charging that "without the NIF there could be no Goldstone report and Israel would not be facing international accusations of war crimes". It is a charge which Abe Foxman, director of the US-based Anti- Defamation League and no great friend of the Israeli left, told New York Jewish Week was "absurd".
Important Notices: By registering on this website,
visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules
page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums and
Journals are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily
represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.