We want to call your attention to an important victory for democracy in Israel.

Yesterday, the Knesset decided not to move forward with a proposal to investigate Israeli human and civil rights organizations. This proposed committee was intended to intimidate and silence the work of organizations whose work is critically important to any democracy. As Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote in a brief filed with the High Court, “It is impossible to ignore the chilling effect of such investigative panels, should they be established, on fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of association.”

We are heartened that wiser heads prevailed in the Knesset, their refusal to support such an outrageous proposal reaffirms our faith in the strength of Israel’s core commitment to the accountability and self-examination that are the hallmarks of a strong democracy.

Make no mistake, this is also a victory for the very voices this legislation was intended to stifle, if not silence completely. Not only did Israel’s civil and human rights community rise to collectively and effectively challenge this so-called inquiry, but its voice grew stronger in the process. NIF and its action arm SHATIL, along with flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, played a key role in representing the interests of civil society in working to defeat the inquiry. While we applaud this development as a sign of strength of Israel’s democratic institutions, we remain deeply concerned that a number of proposed laws that would curtail dissent and basic rights remain under Knesset consideration.

At a time when it is critically important for Israel to serve as an example of successful democracy to its neighbors, we will stand with those who uphold the values that secure its place in the region and among nations as a liberal democracy.

And as always, thank you for standing with us.


created at: 2011-02-18

                  Daniel Sokatch

Say YES To a Better Israel

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