In the wake of the attacks of “Im Tirtzu” and other rightist elements against Prof. Naomi Chazan and the New Israel Fund (she is president of its board), the former Meretz MK has been fired as a columnist in the Jerusalem Post. The following is the core of the Haaretz article that reported the firing:
… On Thursday, Chazan received an e-mail from Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz, informing her the newspaper would cease publishing her column.
Chazan had provided the daily with one of its few leftist voices in recent years….
Im Tirtzu claimed in a feature published in the Hebrew daily Maariv last Friday that it found that 92 percent of negative references to the IDF in the Goldstone report originating with Israeli sources came from organizations sponsored by NIF. The fund’s grantees include Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din and the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights.
Following the feature, Im Tirtzu launched an explicit campaign against the fund. Chazan herself says there is no direct correlation between the positions of the fund and those of the grantees. “We really don’t support every single thing these organizations say, but we support their right to say it. Some organization’s only sin was signing a call to set up an independent committee of inquiry,” she said. “This is an attack against organizations that actually differ in their opinions about Goldstone. The only thing that unites them is a demand for an independent investigation, and this is totally mainstream. Even Dan Meridor called for such an investigation.”
Chazan calls the Im Tirtzu research and the public scandal it provoked as “gagging.” Neither does she spare the methodology of the report itself. “As a politics professor, I know how to read reports. They concealed all the important data. They didn’t say, for instance, that many of the quotes come from IDF officers or even directly from Ehud Olmert. The whole thing seems, to put it mildly, methodologically poor and not worthy of comment. I imagine that the actual Goldstone researchers, in most cases, did not need to do anything more than go to any Israeli news site and all the information was there.”
Meanwhile, the storm provoked by the campaign has reached the Knesset. The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee rushed to set up a subcommittee to look into how foreign foundations sponsor Israeli organizations. MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) announced he was working to reach a wide consensus on setting up a parliamentary inquiry commission to probe the conduct of NIF and its grantees, while a number of other MKs issued statements supporting the fund and freedom of speech in Israel.
“The Knesset is trying to gag the debate and fan incitement,” said Chazan. “This isn’t freedom of speech, this is incitement. It’s an attempt to eradicate legitimate protest and opposition. And without opposition, there is no democracy.”