Israel’s Message to U.S. Jews: If You’re Against the Occupation, You’re Not Welcome
Libby Lenkinski Sep 20, 2017 4:39 PM
With the Jewish Agency now surrendering to the extremist right-wing witch-hunt, more and more of Israel’s institutions are closing their doors to U.S. Jewish progressives. We must refuse to be excluded
(...) This week the Jewish Agency for Israel withdrew its funding for Achvat Amim, a Masa-funded program overseen by Hashomer Hatzair based on spurious allegations by a shadowy group called Ad Kan.
Ad Kan is an arm of the most extreme elements of Israel’s settler movement. It has been called “Israel’s volunteer thought police,” a group that recruits Israelis to become citizen-spies, reporting on their fellow Israelis in a two-bit McCarthyist attempt to weed out anyone who doesn’t fit their vision of an Israel for Jews only.
Armed with hidden cameras and microphones, Ad Kan members lie about their identities, join left-wing organizations and try to capture “gotcha” moments with members. Other times they scrutinize and “investigate” individual activists and then offer their deceptive material to Israel’s mainstream news.
In this case, Ad Kan was incensed that Jews would participate in nonviolent activism alongside Palestinians in the West Bank. So they got to work identifying individual activists to name, shame, and blame.
This is the settler-Right’s tried and true tactic: guilt by association. Ad Kan and other extreme right-wing organizations like it understand that when the public conversation focuses on how policies like the occupation affect people’s lives, they lose. So instead, they create bogeymen and come up with convoluted chains of association among them to imply some nefarious cabal.
Sound familiar? These are the same types of fantasies about power and treason that anti-Semites used for generations to target Jews. It’s eerily similar to the implication of the cartoon posted by Yair Netanyahu to Facebook – for which he has been embraced by neo-Nazis in America.
Ad Kan and its settler-Right allies, like Im Tirtzu and the Samaria Settlers’ Committee, have been reading from the same anti-Semitic playbook for some time. In 2009, Im Tirtzu created a campaign designed to topple the New Israel Fund using imagery of NIF’s then-president, Naomi Chazan, with a horn on her head.
The attacks on NIF by Im Tirtzu and others did nothing to hamper our activities to promote democracy and equality for all Israelis. But this time, guilt-by-association tactics led the Jewish Agency to withdraw funding from a Hashomer Hatzair-affiliated volunteer program.
This is a disappointing surrender to the settler-Right, and not just because of its underhanded and dishonest tactics. These decisions determine what kind of Zionism is acceptable in today’s Israel, and the answer is far narrower than ever before in Israel’s history. The incremental witch-hunting that attempts to mark and silence undesirable elements often starts in organizations like Ad Kan. But dropping the Hashomer Hatzair program is just the latest example of how these actions influence policy.
There can be no mistake: the Jewish Agency canceled its support of Achvat Amim because of the leaders’ progressive political perspective – though plenty of right-wing programs receive Jewish Agency support.(...)