Fighting the Propaganda War and Winning
An Israeli movement known as Im Tirtzu (IMTI) has been instrumental in publicizing the infiltration of Israeli organizations perceived as human rights organizations, but, which, in reality, are actually Foreign Agent organizations bent on destroying Israel.
Im Tirtzu (Hebrew אם תרצו, lit. 'If you will it') is a phrase coined by Theodor Herzl -- "אם תרצו, אין זו אגדה" or "If you will it, it is no dream." Founded in 2006 by Ronen Shoval, Im Tirtzu is an Israeli "extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel." A major component of Im Tirtzu's efforts is devoted to "combating the campaign of de-legitimization against the State of Israel and to provide responses to anti-Zionist" declarations. With thirteen branches at universities and colleges throughout Israel, its mission is based on recognizing that it is critical "to strengthen the Zionist and Jewish identity of Israeli students and encourage them to participate in Zionist activities in the Israeli academic sphere."
Like many American universities, Israeli institutions of higher learning are filled with left-leaning professors who display a fierce anti-Zionist bias. In 2010, American-born Israeli journalist, newspaper editor, and writer, Caroline Glick noted that
One of Im Tirtzu's central goals is to engender an atmosphere of academic freedom and intellectual pluralism on university campuses. Over the past generation or so, those campuses, and particularly the humanities and social sciences faculties, have become hotbeds of anti-Zionist activism and intellectual terror. Stories of professorial intimidation of and discrimination against Zionist students are widespread, as are instances of outright indoctrination in the classrooms.
Responding to complaints from students, Im Tirtzu examined the Politics and Government Department faculty at Ben-Gurion University and discovered adjunct lecturers openly promoting calls for international boycotts of Israel. Better known as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, its primary purpose is the elimination of Israel.
In one of their publications, Im Tirtzu explains the concept of "political terrorism" which is defined as "actions that are not actually physically violent, but which are intended to spread terror and fear in certain countries for the achievement of political aims." Consequently, "various political entities in Israel and abroad... carry out political actions with the aim of paralyzing Israel's ability to defend itself." For example, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, a Palestinian Foundation located in Ramallah, "supports not only foreign agent organizations, but also Palestinian organizations who work together with the terrorist organization 'The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.'"
IMTI has shown that funding comes from Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands who have made transfers of funds to dozens of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. Yet these transfers included "organizations with avowed relationships with prominent Arab terrorists, as well as two Israeli NGOs... who focus on de-legitimizing Israel by accusing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of war crimes."
Im Tirtzu (IMTI) maintains that certain Israel and Arab organizations which call themselves human rights organizations "are not objective organizations whose guiding principles are truth and justice. Instead... their political agendas and negative attitudes towards Israel portray false and biased information."
Equally astonishing is that Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, members of the Israeli Knesset have participated in "Israeli Apartheid Week" at Oxford University for the last decade. In addition, Ahmed Tibi, Ibrahim Sarsour and Masud Gnaim, all members of the Knesset act as Israel's fifth column undermining the country's ability to defend itself -- thus denying Israel's very right to exist.
Coupled with academics like Ilan Pappe who has taught at Haifa University for 23 years and maintains the patently false charge that Israel engages in ethnic cleansing, many in Israel are demanding transparency and accountability.
In a 2015 in a report titled Foreign Agents Report, IMTI listed the amounts of foreign funding from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, and the European Union which was used by organizations such as Adalah who actually work "against Israeli security forces [working] to mitigate acts of terror." Another group, Rabbis for Human Rights "receives hundreds of thousands of dollars... while it leads an international campaign presenting Israel as an anti-Semitic state. Then there is Machsom Watch which actively calls for a boycott of Israel while publicly consoling the relatives of those arrested for the vicious murders of the Fogel family which included a three-month-old sleeping baby. Also included is the Coalition of Women for Peace which supports the International Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement.
Another key offender is the New Israel Fund which actively supports B'Tselem and the organization Breaking the Silence despite the fact that these groups accuse Israel of a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing, implementing apartheid, and of perpetrating war crimes. Moreover, the Director of B'Tselem, refused to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and avoids condemning Hamas' use of civilians as human shields.
In 2015 Im Tirtzu launched a new website called the NIF (New Israel Fund) Watch. In fact, the site shows quotations from the directors of the NIF and the heads of the organizations it supports calling for IDF soldiers to be put on trial for war crimes, calling for boycotts and sanctions against Israel, taking legal actions in court against the State of Israel, and encouraging international pressure. New Israel Fund supports dozens of Israel-related causes, many of which are openly hostile to the Jewish State.
Im Tirtzu's work has resulted in the Knesset passing a law that "would lead to the ouster of members of the Knesset who declare support for terrorism or racism, penalizes desecration of the Israeli flag, and obliges Non-Governmental Organizations or NGOs to reveal their sources of foreign government funding if such funding accounts for more than half of their revenues."
Im-Tirtzu director-general Matan Peleg has affirmed that the list of organizations proves beyond all doubt that “[t]hese are delegitimization organizations... are meant only to slander the State of Israel and reduce its sovereignty, and these activities are funded by foreign governments, so [the NGOs] make money off of the conflict.”
Peleg asserts that Israelis have the right and the responsibility to respond through legislation to “blatant undemocratic foreign intervention in [their] internal affairs.” He finds it “very strange that European countries are obsessed with sending millions of euros specifically to propaganda organizations meant to discredit the Jewish state" and maintains that "[t]his phenomenon is reminiscent of dark times in history.”
But given the resurgence of global anti-Semitism, is it not predictable?
The conflict that faces Israel, and for that matter the free world, is a "battle between those who sanctify life and those who celebrate death."
The tentacles of hate are deep and the work that this small group at Im Tirtzu does is invaluable as they draw back the curtain on the nefarious deeds that European and American funds help to sponsor.
Eileen can be reached at email@example.com