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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Im Tirtzu’

Israeli Arabs Launch ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

What began as an anti-Israel campaign throughout the world, is coming to Israel, with a conference on “Israeli Apartheid” to be held Wednesday in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, Maariv reports.

The conference, held as part of the “Apartheid Week,” will feature Dr. Yousef Jabareen, senior lecturer at Haifa University, who will speak about “racism within the Green Line,” and Dr. Haidar Eid, a professor from a Gazan university, who will speak over Skype about “the similarity between Palestine and South Africa before the removal of Apartheid laws.”

Event organizers are young Arab activists who are members of the local branch of the BDS movement, which leads the international boycott campaign against Israel.

Raja Zaatara, one of the organizers and a member of Hadash party politburo, said: “The green line has a policy of apartheid and the territories have a regime of apartheid. In Israel there are dozens of laws explicitly speak about rights that are exclusive to the Jews, for example, the Law of Return, and various real estate laws.

“If anyone in the U.S. or in Europe chooses to boycott Haifa University because it discriminates against Arabs, or Tel Aviv University because it runs more than 50 projects for the Army, I can quite understand them,” said Za’atra. “If I was a Belgian or French citizen, I would be boycotting Israel in order to influence the situation. The boycott is a legitimate tool of civilian struggle.”

Abir Cobti, a female political activist and one of the organizers of the conference, says that the purpose of the event is to help isolate Israel in the international arena. “We will continue to engage in promoting economic boycott against Israel as a legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people.”

The “Im Tirtzu” movement, dedicated to reviving Zionist values in Israel, criticized the participation of Dr. Jabareen in the Nazareth event.

“This is yet another play of the Theater of the Absurd, which continues to break new records. Arab citizens of Israel—Israelis such as Dr. Yousef Jabareen, who lectures in Israeli academic institutions and even heads an academic institute in Israel, taking part in a conference accusing the state of Israel of apartheid,” said Im Tirtzu Chairman, Ronen Shoval. “This conference is part of hallucinatory Antisemitic propaganda campaign against Israel and against Israeli democracy. “

Dubbing Political Foe ”Fascist” May Prove Costly to Facebook Defendants

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Can one cry “Fascism” in a crowded internet? A Jerusalem district court begins hearing testimonies on this issue today, with a plethora of unintended consequences paving its path. Is this a typical case of Left vs. Right, and if so, will a court decision necessarily benefit either of the sides? As of this morning, the relatively small but insanely vociferous world of Israeli online activists should start holding its collective breath .

Im Tirtzu (a reference to Zionist visionary Theodore Hertzle’s immortal slogan, Im tirtzu ein zu agada, roughly translated as ‘If only you want it, it won’t remain a dream’), describes itself as “an extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel.” Established by Israeli intellectuals, students and IDF reservists after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, its objectives are the renewal of the Zionist discourse, thinking and ideology, “to ensure the future of the Jewish nation and of the State of Israel and to advance Israeli society in coping with the challenges it faces.”

Im Tirtzu is mostly devoted to “combating the campaign of de-legitimization against the State of Israel and to providing responses to Post-Zionist and Anti-Zionist phenomena.”

With thirteen branches at universities and colleges throughout Israel, Im Tirtzu has become an influential organization in the Israeli public arena, with strong ties to Israeli politicians on the right, and “access to decision makers and high-ranking government officials in Israel.” They influence public opinion and can certainly be considered a factor in moving Israel’s popular public opinion to the right.

A year ago, Im Tirtzu filed a NIS 2.6 million suit against seven people who created a Facebook page called “Im Tirtzu – Fascists,” and the defendants are about to present their depositions today. The Facebook Seven are represented by Attorney Michael Sphard, Yishai Shindor and Shlomi Zacharia. The seven admit that the financial burden of the lawsuit could destroy them, and are planning to start a fund raising drive.

But perhaps a sincere apology would do them better, because, on the face of it, they’re not in good shape. The Facebook Seven’s defense boils down to the “if the shoe fits” argument, which may be hard to prove.

The defense is also expected to argue that presenting Im Tirtzu as fascists is protected by the principle of freedom of expression – it’s their opinion and they’re entitled to voice it. That argument, too, can be tricky in a country with tough libel laws like Israel.

One deposition comes from Professor Ze’ev Sternhell, who is presented as “an internationally-recognized expert on fascism.” According to Sternhell, Im Tirtzu’s ideology and actions contain elements of fascism.

The problem is that Professor Sternhell in one article openly called on terrorists to aim their weapons at settlements, and in another declared that only those willing to march on the settlement of Ofra with tanks would be able to stop the fascist wave threatening to drown Israeli democracy. As impassioned as his defense of the Facebook Seven may be, he can hardly be considered an unbiased expert.

A more useful argument is expected to be made by journalist and spoken Hebrew expert Rubik Rosenthal, in whose opinion the term “fascist” has lost its historic bite in the current Israeli discourse, being used by opinion-mongers on the left and on the right as a generalized insult, rather than the original characterization by Benitto Mussolini et al.

But journalist Tomer Persico’s testimony will include a conversation he had with one of Im Tirtzu’s leaders, Ronen Shuval, in which the latter admitted to being influenced by “German romanticism’s ideologues,” those 19th-Century dreamers who gave life to the monstrous European fascism. If you note a contradiction between the former paragraph’s main point and this one, do read it once more and note that, indeed, this could be a case of having the cake while munching on it vigorously.

Incidentally, perfectly mainstream Zionist movements such as Beitar took pride in calling themselves Fascist, in the days before the term went gargoyle. Calling Shuval a fascist for identifying with the same sentiments that Likud’s ancient founding father Ze’ev Jabotinsky embraced before WWII may be just a case of unfairness, in which journalists of Tomer Persico’s ilk are known to dabble on occasion.

Professor Ze’ev Sternhell reads into texts written by Shuval “a clear expression of fascist thinking.” These include “references to the nation as an organic body.” But, of course, this would dub most hasidic and kabalistic writing equally fascist. Because, in history, thinking your nation is special is not a problem – thinking your nation is special so you should kill everybody else is usually where troubles start.

Other signs of fascist thought, according to Sternhell, include the view of an atrophied West and the sense that the situation in Israel is an emergency requiring extremist action and struggle against the “traitors.” This inclusive approach would probably dub as fascist both houses of the US Congress and a majority of publications on the shelf today in the areas of sociology, economics, poli sci, and religion, to name just a few thousand.

Campus Watchdogs: 10% of Israeli Academics Anti-Zionist

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Campus watchdog organizations Im Tirtzu, IsraCampus, and Israel Academia Monitor, have determined that approximately 10% of Israeli academics are anti-Zionist, according to a recent study.

Israel Academia Monitor released a statement refuting charges of McCarthyism: “We are not a right-wing organization, but rather an organization that is unaffiliated politically and that keeps its distance from politics. Our role is to protect the universities from political forces, and especially from the extreme left, that exploits the institutions for its needs and acts as if they were its private playing field.”

The study lists more than 1,000 Israelis, 800 of whom are academics.

Score Another Victory For Israel’s Radical Left

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Bank Leumi, the National Bank of Israel, initiated a campaign, called Two Million Good Reasons, aimed at rewarding Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with funding for their efforts on behalf of the good of society.

One hundred forty NGOs entered the contest, uploading videos to YouTube showcasing their volunteer work in an effort to amass the greatest amount of votes. Based on public support, the bank would distribute two million shekels ($540,000) between the sixty leading organizations.

Upon witnessing the widespread success of Im Tirtzu in the competition, the radical left in Israel vehemently lashed out against Bank Leumi for consenting to the movement’s participation. Members of Peace Now threatened to start a boycott and close their accounts at Bank Leumi unless Im Tirtzu were disqualified.

Despite accusations from radical leftists that Im Tirtzu has political affiliations, their real grievance stems from the fact that they are unable to tolerate views or beliefs that differ from their own. In fact, Bank Leumi initially announced that the mission of Im Tirtzu coincides, completely, with the guidelines of the competition. Moreover, one of the guiding principles of the competition was to promote Zionism. It was only after the bank found itself in the midst of a barrage of negative PR that is issued a statement closing down the contest.

Im Tirtzu prides itself on providing a voice that is diametrically opposed to the anti-Zionist and post-Zionist sentiments prevalent in today’s public discourse. At the same time, it prides itself on remaining apolitical, not affiliated with any political party or group. In fact, Im Tirtzu continues to receive support from across the political spectrum.

As an institution dedicated to the people of Israel and land of Israel, Im Tirtzu spends its time, energy and funding on programming and activities designed to assist, inspire and contribute to all walks of Jewish life. We promote Zionism on university campuses, help new immigrants with their absorption into Israeli society, support students in need of assistance, visit and support Holocaust survivors, work with farmers in the Negev and Galilee, volunteer in Sderot, help minorities acclimate to Israeli society, support soldiers, plant forests and stand firmly against anarchist demonstrations.

The objections to Im Tirtzu’s pro-Israel activities and advocacy come from many of those on the radical left who accept funding from foreign governments and impede, inhibit and undermine the sovereignty and democracy of the country.

Clearly, the thought of Im Tirtzu emerging victorious from this competition, with the support of the public, is something they simply could not bear.

Unfortunately, Bank Leumi succumbed to ugly left-wing threats. Im Tirtzu was in first place as the most popular non-profit organization when the bank decided to stop the project.

Thanks to its unrelenting efforts, Peace Now had its way with Bank Leumi. But this is hardly about one group or one competition. The leaders of Peace Now consider it legitimate to accept funding from foreign countries. By doing so, they undermine Israeli democracy. Not only do they silence the values of Zionism and nationalism, they undermine organizations that seek to improve the lives of sick children, Holocaust survivors, victims of cancer and so many other people in need.

Ronen Shoval is founder and chairman of Im Tirtzu.

‘We Need To Have New Ideological Blood In The System’: An Interview with Im Tirtzu Founder Ronen Shoval

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Im Tirtzu, an Israeli student organization, recently made waves when it accused the New Israel Fund (NIF) of granting millions of dollars to 16 NGOs, whose condemnations of the IDF helped build the case against Israel in the UN’s Goldstone Report. According to a controversial Im Tirtzu ad in Israeli newspapers, “Without the New Israel Fund, there could be no Goldstone Report, and Israel would not be facing international accusations of war crimes.”

In response to Im Tirtzu’s campaign, the Knesset promised to investigate the matter and the Jerusalem Post fired NIF president Naomi Chazan as a columnist for the paper. Meanwhile, prominent left-wing personalities slammed Im Tirtzu for McCarthyism and right-wing extremism.

Last week, The Jewish Press spoke with Ronen Shoval, the 29-year-old chairman and co-founder of Im Tirtzu.

The Jewish Press: Are there any new developments in your organization’s campaign against the NIF?

Shoval: We’re learning that the connection between the NIF and the Goldstone Report was only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of information is coming to us showing that the NIF is working so that Israel ultimately won’t be a Jewish state.

What do you mean by that?

For example, the words of Hatikvah speak of the “soul of a Jew yearning.” In the flag we have the Star of David. In 1947 the UN called for the establishment of a Jewish state. The NIF is trying to flip it over. They want Israel to be a country for all its residents. And that’s a big difference.

Your critics argue that Im Tirtzu’s claims regarding the NIF’s connection to the Goldstone Report are exaggerated. What is your response?

Well, it’s really hard to argue with footnotes. There are more than 199 footnotes [in our 120-page report] related to NIF organizations. The power of the Goldstone Report comes from the fact that Israeli organizations are blaming Israel of committing war crimes. It’s not interesting if Hamas says it. It’s interesting when Israelis say it. So I was looking: Who are the Israeli organizations blaming me and my friends of committing war crimes? And I found 16 organizations – all of them getting money from the NIF.

You know, just yesterday I went to the Friends of the IDF dinner and in front of the building there was a demonstration of several organizations calling to put [IDF Chief of Staff] Gabi Ashkenazi in jail. A couple of them were organizations sponsored by the NIF. If the NIF doesn’t think they are right, I will be more than happy if they stop sponsoring them.

What is Im Tirtzu’s goal? Why did you found it in 2006?

People in my generation try to kill sacred cows. We are trying to protect them. That’s our mission. So if some people don’t see the IDF as a sacred cow anymore, we are trying to protect it. If some people don’t see Jerusalem as a sacred cow anymore, we are trying to protect it. If people think the Holocaust can be denied, we are trying to protect it.

You bill your organization as “the second Zionist revolution.” What does that mean?

Every big revolution in the last century – socialism, communism, fascism, etc. – had energy for the first generation and then started going down. So we are trying to give spirit to the Zionist revolution and make a second one. Let’s give hope again to the people, to let them feel that they’re part of a great idea and can make a change.

Look at Israeli society today. It’s just inertia. My generation doesn’t have any clear answer for why they should risk their lives in order to ensure the existence of the Jewish state. We are trying to give answers.

How do you do that?

We are working inside campuses, advocating for Israel and Zionism on three levels: Zionism through the legs – tour the land; through the heart – celebrate Independence Day, Chanukah, etc.; and through the mind – explaining, lecturing, showing movies, etc.

We have branches right now in ten different universities with more than 25,000 members in the movement.

What do you tell Israelis who ask: Why should I live a precarious life in Israel when I can move to America and enjoy a comfortable existence?

Well, it depends on who’s asking. But generally I would say that we have the ability to be connected to a story of 3,500 years. We’re part of a nation living in a land where, every place you touch, you feel that you are part of a big, big chain. We have the opportunity to be part of a nation, and to see the chain all the way back and all the way to the future.

[Most] people in this world don’t have an opportunity of meaning. Lots of people don’t have meaning in life because they are not part of a community. This is what’s happening here in Western civilization; we are losing the inspiration of life. So when you’re part of a nation with such a beautiful history and such a beautiful future, this is an opportunity that we should [grasp].

We have the responsibility to make Israel and the world a better place. This is what our goal is, to be an ohr lagoyim. We’re lucky that we were born to a people with a great heritage and, potentially, a great future. But it’s all in our hands. This is the reason why Im Tirtzu is called Im Tirtzu [which means "If you will it"]. If we want, we can have it all, but if we don’t want

Some people argue that Zionism cannot exist without Judaism and to the extent that Judaism’s hold on the Jewish masses is weak, Zionism’s hold will also be weak. What’s your opinion?

I agree 100 percent. And I think one of the issues that we are dealing with in Israel is how to bring young secular kids closer to their heritage.

But you yourself are not ritually observant.

No, I grew up in Ramat HaSharon, which is a suburb of Tel Aviv, in a secular family.

But the Torah sees Judaism as the nation first, and then religion. How do we know? We are called the Jewish people before we got the Torah. Pharaoh called us a nation – “hinei am ratzu mi’menu.” When God asked the different nations to accept the Torah, we were one of them. In the book of Shoftim the people were not keeping the law, but they didn’t stop being a people.

This is how the Torah, God – not me – defines Judaism: first national, then religion. I have very strong feelings about, and an understanding of, the religion, but the question about what I do when I wake up in the morning is a whole different aspect.

Im Tirtzu claims to be neither left wing nor right wing. Which Zionist personalities, then, inspire Im Tirtzu’s ideology?

We have a couple of them. I would say Moshe Rabbeinu, Herzl, Jabotinsky, Berl Katznelson .

Don’t the writings of these leaders contradict one another?

No. They may have had their differences, but they were all committed Zionists.

You also have to understand that we’re not copying. We’re creating something new. I’m coming out soon with a book called Herzl’s Vision 2.0. I think it’s unique because most books about Zionism are not about Zionism; they’re about the archeology of Zionism – what Berl Katznelson or Jabotinsky thought 100 years ago. It’s too old; we need to have new ideological blood in the system.

My book tries to answer all the hard questions – Why stay in Israel? What does it mean to be a Zionist? etc. – for our generation.

Why The Left Hates Im Tirtzu

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

           Israel’s Im Tirtzu student organization bills itself as the “Second Zionist Revolution.” Until a few weeks ago, that sounded like youthful bravado. But the group has raised eyebrows – and hackles – with its unprecedented grand slam in the Israeli media against the New Israel Fund.
 
           Led by Hebrew University graduate student Ronen Shoval, Im Tirtzu has emerged as the leading campus organization among Israeli students. It is solidly Zionist and nationalist, and has both secular and religious members.
 
Im Tirtzu had been making headlines even before the controversy surrounding NIF. It earlier collected complaints from students at several schools, especially Tel Aviv University, concerning harassments of Zionist students by anti-Israel faculty radicals. Many students claim they are penalized by leftist faculty members if they dare challenge the classroom biases imposed on them.
 
In response to Im Tirtzu’s complaints, the administration of Tel Aviv University launched an investigation into those abuses and the matter was also raised for debate in the Knesset.
 
The New Israel Fund is a left-of-center outfit funded in part by American Jews but mainly by the Ford Foundation and some groups in the EU. Critics of NIF sometimes claim the “New Israel” it seeks to fund is really Palestine.
 
Some of what NIF funds is harmless, or even beneficial, like shelters for battered women. But the bulk of its funding goes to leftist political activism inside Israel.
 
The current media frenzy began when Im Tirtzu released a 120-page report on the activities supported by the New Israel Fund. As Im Tirtzu’s Shoval told me: “Supposedly in the name of freedom of speech, the New Israel Fund has financed a massive campaign of defamation against Israel and its soldiers, but then has demanded that Im Tirtzu be silenced. Inventing imaginary war crimes by Israel is NIF’s idea of progressive democracy, but criticism of NIF by students is incitement and must be suppressed.”
 
The new controversy was triggered by the UN’s Goldstone report, which denounced Israel for war crimes and human rights abuses supposedly committed by Israeli soldiers during Operation Cast Lead while glossing over the thousands of rocket attacks that had made military action necessary in the first place.
 
The fairy tales of Israeli “human rights abuses” and “war crimes” by Goldstone were taken not from the usual anti-Israel propaganda websites and media outlets but were provided to the Goldstone “investigators” by numerous radical Israeli propaganda groups.
 
The funding of these extremist groups has long been the focus of the NGO-Monitor watchdog group, headed by Bar-Ilan University professor Gerald Steinberg. His website exposes non-governmental organizations that pretend to be human-rights or peace organizations but are in fact nothing more than Bash-Israel hate groups. They invariably get the bulk of their funding from outside Israel, often from sources hostile to Israel.
 
            The Im Tirtzu students gathered data from NGO-Monitor and other sources and issued their devastating report (which includes 60 pages of tables). According to it, 92 percent of the anti-Israel smears in the Goldstone report came directly from organizations financed by the New Israel Fund.
 
Within days, the Israeli daily Maariv carried the story of the Im Tirtzu report on its front page, with several news and opinion pieces congratulating the students for their work and denouncing the New Israel Fund.
 
             The Maariv story was followed up by the rest of the Israeli mainstream media. Only Haaretz, the daily described by some wags as the Palestinian newspaper published in Hebrew, denounced the students as “inciters” and “right-wing extremists” and launched a shameless campaign of vilification and defamation against them.
 
The Knesset announced it would hold hearings into Im Tirtzu’s findings. Within days, public statements endorsing the student report and denouncing the New Israel Fund were being published, notably one by a group of Israeli army generals.
 
            Meanwhile, Im Tirtzu students escalated their criticism of the current president of the New Israel Fund, former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan. They mischievously issued a poster/advertisement with a cartoon showing Chazan with a rhino horn coming out of her forehead.
 
            It was all a play on words: “new fund” in Hebrew is exactly the same expression as “new horn.” So the poster shows Chazan wearing her “new fund” as a rhino horn on her forehead. The cartoon also played on the Israeli slang expression l’hitkarnef, literally “to become a rhinoceros,” a popular term referring to “selling out.”
 
          Chazan and her leftist legions were not amused. She and NIF decided to bully the students by threatening to sue. They also instituted a lawsuit against the Jerusalem Post for running the Im Tirtzu ad. The Jerusalem Post responded by sacking Chazan, who had been a Post columnist. A “progressive” group of Jews in Australia, hearing about Chazan’s behavior, decided to withdraw an offer to host her for a speaking tour.
 
           Leftist groups, led by the anti-Israel Human Rights Watch, repeated their familiar take on democracy: Israelis denouncing and demonizing Israel build peace and progress, but people denouncing leftists threaten democracy itself.
 
           A few dozen far-left academics, joined by some others, placed large ads in newspapers denouncing Im Tirtzu and endorsing the agenda of the New Israel Fund. Leftist professors filled the chat lists with messages insisting Im Tirtzu was a clear and present danger to democracy and freedom of speech in Israel.
 
           Several tenured leftists insisted that Im Tirtzu’s exercise of freedom of speech would lead directly to political murder, repeating the old calumny about how right-wingers exercising their freedom of speech caused the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Others, led by Haaretz writers, argued that the rhino horn in the Chazan cartoon was anti-Semitic.
 

          That so many of Israel’s leftists have stooped to such nonsense shows only one thing: They are in a high state of panic over the appearance of possibly the most important authentically Zionist grassroots movement in Israel in decades.

 

 

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-the-left-hates-im-tirtzu/2010/02/17/

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