In December 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli government during Operation Cast Lead in late 2008. Livni decided not to take any chances, and cancelled her planned trip to a Jewish National Fund conference in London. This threat didn’t go away, however. Several months ago, when on her way to a conference in London, she was summoned by Scotland Yard’s War Crimes unit for questioning.
Although Livni has generally remained silent on this issue, she addressed it last week while speaking at the IDC’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism conference. She said the arrest warrant was “immoral, wrong, and harmful to [the] joint fight against terror organizations.”
But what she forgot to mention was that numerous Israeli NGOs were responsible for the arrest warrant — by accusing Israel of war crimes, and then using their foreign governmental funding to pressure people and governments around the world to “punish” Israel for its supposed atrocities.
After Operation Cast Lead, there was no shortage of Israeli organizations that accused Israel of war crimes for defending her citizens. Some of these groups gathered together under the umbrella organization, “Coalition of Women for Peace,” and some, like Zochrot and Israel Social TV, acted alone. These organizations receive funding from foreign political entities and governments including Holland, Germany, Norway, and the European Union.
This foreign governmental funding is used to accuse Israel of war crimes, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and more, on a daily basis. These funds also promote a boycott against Israel, and are part of the insidious campaign to delegitimize and dehumanize Israel.
It is therefore surprising that the very person who led the opposition against the recently passed Transparency Law, which obligates foreign government-funded organizations to increase their transparency, was none other than MK Tzipi Livni. Yes, the same Tzipi Livni who almost spent the night in a London prison cell because of these very organizations.
At the same time that MK Livni condemns those who seek to convict her and other Israeli officials — she does the exact opposite in Israel. In the UK, and only in the UK, she seems to understand and recognize the problems of such organizations engaging in lawfare against a democratic state that is fighting a war against terror. But not in Israel.
Livni and her colleagues on the Zionist Left must understand that this “British problem” is nothing compared to the problem in Israel. Only a sick democracy allows for foreign governments to meddle in its internal affairs and to advance a policy that undermines its very right to exist. These delegitimization organizations are not “human rights” organizations; rather, they are political pawns implanted in Israeli society by foreign governments in order to serve their interests.
This objective was best illustrated by Britain’s former Minister of Middle East Affairs, Alistair Burt, who noted: “Since we began supporting these programs some significant changes have been made in the Israeli justice system, both civilian and military, and in the decisions they make.”
It is the right and the obligation of the Knesset to enact legislation requiring increased transparency for foreign government-funded Israeli organizations. In fact, the Transparency Law is just a drop in the bucket of the parliamentary action needed to halt these anti-democratic intrusions.
In one of the Knesset debates about the Transparency Law, Devorah Gonen, a bereaved mother whose son Danny z’l was murdered last year by terrorists, expressed the sentiment shared by many other bereaved families: “Foreign governments are funding the murder of Jews and we need to stop it.”
It would be wise for MK Livni to understand this, and to stop defending those who are advocating for her arrest. If not for her own sake, then at least for the sake of Israeli democracy and sovereignty.Matan Peleg