Jonathan Ofir describes how a fascist group, Im Tirtzu, defames and attempts to intimidate and silence critical voices in “the only democracy in the Middle East”
This article first appeared in Mondoweiss reprinted by permission of the author
The right wing Israeli Jewish group “Im Tirtzu” has published an incitement video, featuring Adi Shosberger, who has recently called soldiers near the Gaza fence ‘terrrorists,’; and an activist from ‘Machsom Watch’ (‘Checkpoint watch’) who tells an Israeli soldier “you are a disgrace”.
The video frames these actions as a conspiracy of the progressive New Israel Fund. New Israel Fund, a global organization based in the U.S., has supported Machsom Watch, but it has no connection to Shosberger. “I have no connection to the New Israel Fund,” Shosberger writes, in Hebrew.
The Im Tirtzu video satirically promotes a video game, where one plays a soldier confronting leftist activists:
“Do you want to experience what IDF soldiers feel when they are persecuted by New Israel Fund organizations?”, the narrator says.
In the game, the soldier confronts activists and ‘terrorists’ yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’. The narrator says:
“What are you waiting for? Join the fight against the foreign agents.”
In the actual video game, the soldier can kill the Palestinians, but has to jump over the Israeli activists.
Shosberger, who was protesting the manifestly illegal policy of shooting unarmed protesters, has also been trashed by a mainstream radio host who has publicly fantasized about her rape and murder, calling her “stupid”, “filth” and “little bitch”.
The Israeli organization “Im Tirzu“ calls itself “the largest grassroots Zionist movement in Israel,” but has been widely labelled “fascist”. A Jerusalem court judge has even ruled that this is a legitimate charge.
Its call to fight the “foreign agents” arose 2-1/2 years ago, when Im Tirtzu published a video which incited against four NGO’s: B’Tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence, and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual. Staffers were personally named and framed as “foreign agents”.
“While we fight terror, they fight us,” the narrator said
That video coincided with the push from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, herself arguably a fascist, of the “Transparency bill” nearly two years ago, which forced organizations that receive more than half their funding from institutions abroad (including from European governments), to disclose it prominently in official reports. The law does not specifically refer to leftwing organizations, but applies to about 25 NGOs. Rightwing NGOs, such as those supporting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, tend to rely on private donations, which the law does not cover.
The recent video is a further incitement against those who criticize Israeli policy, and it is making a blanket judgement of any dissent to be a national treason by “foreign agents”.
Im Tirtzu is ostensibly calling for this treatment of “foreign agents” to be implemented in law. But the incitement there is so virulent, that it’s not difficult to see how someone might get the idea that they should take the law into their own hands, and ‘teach these foreign agents a lesson’ – as an act of patriotism, of course.
One might be inclined to see this merely as a ‘game’, as the video suggests it is. But it is not a game. It is dead serious. It’s as serious as when the mentioned mainstream radio host Shai Goldstein says he “feels like killing that woman” (Adi Shosberger). But many Israelis don’t seem to get this. It passes as mere ‘outrage’, justified by the notion that the “most moral army in the world” cannot possibly be carrying out acts of terrorism, or even acting in ways which are a “disgrace”.
Militarism is a religion in Israel, like Zionism, and people are being sacrificed by it in many ways. Mostly, it’s Palestinians – but it’s also those who show solidarity with them. Then you’re a “foreign agent”.
Note – Im Tirtzu has been repeatedly praised by Netanyahu and other Israeli Government ministers