Last Friday, Israel’s new government crossed a line that no Israeli government has dared cross before, designating six Palestinian civil society organizations “terrorist organizations.” The shameful declaration says nothing about these organizations – but speaks volumes about the violence, brutality and arrogance the Israeli regime has been routinely employing against Palestinians for decades.
B’Tselem stands in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues. We are proud of our joint work over the years and of our shared struggle against the apartheid regime and the occupation. One of the newly-outlawed groups is the oldest Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, which was established more than 40 years ago. Al-Haq and B’Tselem have won several international awards together. In 2018, the Israeli government tried to thwart our joint reception of the French Republic Human Rights Award, using lies similar to those being voiced now. Despite the lies, the award was granted. Despite the threats, our work will continue.
This morning, B’Tselem and more than 20 Israeli civil society organizations ran a front-page ad in the Haaretz daily stating the obvious: criminalizing human rights organizations is a cowardly act that is characteristic of oppressive authoritarian regimes.
The Israeli apartheid regime has sweeping powers when it comes to running the lives of its Palestinian subjects. It does not hesitate to use these powers to prevent Palestinians from exposing its actions, from demanding accountability and from lobbying the international community. The regime is now using these powers to try and shut down human rights organizations – yet again citing “classified evidence.” The minister of defense may have signed the order this time, but the responsibility, and the disgrace, lie with the entire government – with every single minister and with all the parties to the coalition.
Over the years, Israel has consistently framed any Palestinian move that was not a surrender to apartheid and occupation as “terrorism.” Appealing to the International Criminal Court? Legal terrorism. Enlisting the UN? Diplomatic terrorism. Calling for a consumer boycott? Financial terrorism. Protesting? Popular terrorism. Israel may try to portray fighting for freedom as terrorism, but it takes one to know one.
Whatever the outcome of the recent declaration, one thing is clear: the Palestinian struggle for human rights, liberty and equality will continue and B’Tselem will continue to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues – until the apartheid is abolished.