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06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

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September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



Israeli society views all human rights groups as traitors or enemies

Israelis demonstrate against the boycott bill in Jerusalem. Photo by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Civil society, human rights and Jewish-Israeli communitarians

Many Jewish-Israelis see local human rights groups as traitors, but a boycott will only make things worse. A response to Ron, Crow and Golden, Jessie Montell, Ian Lustick, and Lori Allen.

By Liora Sion, Open Democracy
20 September 2013

In many parts of the world, ordinary people view universal human rights as a “good thing,” something to support and enforce. Many Jewish Israelis will likely say the same, but only for people living elsewhere; Tibet, perhaps, or even Syria. When it comes to the Palestinians, I doubt many Israelis would feel the same way.

I’ve interviewed many United Nations representatives about their work on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and most say Jewish Israelis are not aware of, and do not want to be aware of, the conditions facing Palestinians living just a few miles down the road. For all intents and purposes, as far as most Jewish Israelis are concerned, Palestinians reside on the moon.

As an Israeli citizen, academic, and human rights activist, I have to agree with those assessments.

Israeli activists make a stand at Ben Gurion airport for the Welcome to Palestine Flytilla, 2011. Photo by Flash90.

In openGlobalRights, Jesse Montell, director of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, argues that the Israeli human rights community can and should expand its support base within Israel. I agree, but am not particularly hopeful. Jewish-Israeli civil society is not strong, and there is a growing gap between the Israeli human rights community, on the one hand, and the majority of Israeli Jews, on the other.

Ashutosh Varshney, a noted scholar of Indian politics, writes that civil societies are often implicated in communal and ethnic conflict. This is very true for Israel. For many years, there was little division between state and civil society in Israel. As a result, what passed for “civil society” in the country was as much a protagonist in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as the Israeli state itself, and the state’s security forces. As scholar Uri Ben Eliezer shows, this is part and parcel of a long-standing tradition, in which the Israeli state enveloped and engulfed civil society, leaving little distinction between rulers and the ruled. Scarred by the horrors of the Holocaust, Israeli state and society were joined at the hip, welded together in an all-encompassing Zionist consensus.

It is true, as Montell says, that a new and more autonomous civil society has begun to emerge in Israel, one whose core logics are post-Zionist, cosmopolitan, and universalist. This new civil society is challenging Zionist communitarianism, calling instead for the inclusion of marginalised groups, such as African foreign workers and refugees living in south Tel Aviv.

Many Jewish Israelis do not welcome this new cosmopolitanism, however, and the Holocaust’s bitter legacy gives the communitarians more influence than the Jewish universalists. As a result, many Jewish Israelis view today’s post-Zionist human rights groups as national traitors, rather than as universalist heroes.

Consider, for example, the campaign against the New Israel Fund (NIF), a Jewish foundation that supports many of Israel’s most cosmopolitan civil society organizations, including Jewish groups fighting against religious coercion, and those supporting women’s liberation and empowerment of the poor.

As a result of this campaign, you have only to mention that “funding was provided by the NIF” for most Jewish Israelis to reject the project or organization outright. This is in part because the NIF also supports groups such as the Mossawa Center or Adalah, both of which promote the rights of Israel’s Palestinian Arab citizens. Those groups, along with the NIF, are viewed as enemies, traitors, and anti-Semites.

Ian Lustick argues in openGlobalRights that Israel, like South Africa, is heading toward pariah status. I agree. I do not believe, however, that the international boycott campaign will help convince many Jewish Israelis that Israeli policies, rather than anti-Semitism, lies at the root of their isolation. Instead, a boycott is more likely to convince them even further that the world is against Israel for no good reason, thanks in part to the traitorous behavior of Jewish Israeli human rights organizations serving as Western or anti-Semitic spies.

The international boycott campaign, in other words, plays straight into the hands of the Jewish-Israeli right wing. You cannot threaten a sieged mentality society with a boycott.

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