JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli human rights groups have responded indignantly to comments by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calling leftist human rights groups "terrorist organizations."
"We’re not talking here about leftist organizations and not about human rights groups, we’re talking about terror organizations," Lieberman said Sunday during remarks to reporters before a Cabinet meeting.
"The truly dangerous thing is politicians who lead by using incitement and hate in order to appeal to populism," said Hagai Elad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. "It’s a shame that Lieberman is not familiar with the official documents, among them Foreign Ministry reports boasting of the important actions of human rights organizations in Israel."
ACRI called on Lieberman to "turn to law enforcement authorities and demand an investigation and indictment" if he believes that "actions taken by Israeli NGOs, right-wing or left-wing, constitute illegal activities."
The human rights group Yesh Din, which Lieberman mentioned by name, said in a statement that "If the Foreign Minister does not file a complaint with the Israeli Police within 24 hours — everyone will know that he is lying intentionally, and his sole purpose is inciting against the NGOs.
"The Foreign Minister’s methods are reminiscent of the methods applied by dark regimes, in order to cope with those who were deemed as government critics. Yesh Din will not be deterred from working to save the Israeli democracy, and abiding by the Israeli Law."
The Knesset is scheduled to vote this week on a bill that would authorize parliamentary investigations of Israeli groups critical of the country’s policies toward the Palestinians.
The fight over the parliamentary inquiries comes on the heels of the Knesset’s passage last week of a controversial anti-boycott law that sanctions those who boycott Israel or West Bank settlements.