Righty Im Tirtzu faces backlash over ‘foreign agent’ clip

NGO chief responds to incitement claims, saying ‘moles’ responsible for whatever happens to them

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

Still image from a video published by the right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu, December 15, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube)
Still image from a video published by the right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu, December 15, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube)

The right-wing Im Tirtzu organization is facing rising criticism and accusations of incitement following a controversial video clip it released Tuesday targeting prominent left-wing activists.

Opposition chair Isaac Herzog said the video, which accuses leading figures from Israel’s human rights organizations of being “moles” operated by foreign countries to sabotage Israel’s counter-terror efforts, “spilled the blood of Israeli activists.”

He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to condemn the video, accusing them of condoning incitement by remaining silent.

“Take responsibility, tell Im Tirtzu that its video is beyond the ‘separation wall’ of what is acceptable in our democratic society,” he said. “Stop those who stain your whole camp with hate.”

The video was produced by advertiser Moshe Klughaft, who also serves as a senior adviser for Bennett and ran his Jewish Home party’s election campaign earlier this year.

MK Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union faction said she opposed any deligimization attempts from the right or left wings. “I will oppose any attempt to paint people or entire communities as collaborators with the enemy,” she said.

The clip was posted Tuesday on the Facebook page of Ronen Shoval, founder and former chairman of Im Tirtzu, which campaigns against what it contends is left-wing bias on university campuses and elsewhere.

“It’s unbelievable how foreign countries help terrorists via Israeli agents,” Shoval wrote.

Meretz MKs sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein Tuesday asking him to investigate whether the video constituted incitement.

“This dangerous video is making the rounds on the internet. Help us stop it,” read the letter.

The human rights activists named in the video work for Breaking the Silence, B’tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Hamoked — Center for the Defense of the Individual.

Yishai Menuhin, director of Public Committee Against Torture in Israel who features first in the video’s list of “moles,” filed an offical police complaint against the video claiming it endangered him.

Responding to the criticism Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg told Walla news Wednesday that the organization would not responsible if violent action were to be taken against individuals mentioned in the film.

“Yishai Menuhin is an adult, and he knew what he was doing when he spoke out against IDF soldiers and called for legal action against the army,” he said. “He is the one who spoke this way against Israeli society.”

Instead of retracting the video, Im Tirtzu filed a complaint against Menuhin saying he “tied the hands of the Shin Bet security agency during its investigations of terrorists.”

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