Forward Thinking

An Open Left?

By Nathan Jeffay

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Einat Wilf

In recent years, the Israeli left has argued strongly for freedom of expression and open debate, often in the face of calls from the right for the silencing of such-and-such an NGO, conference, or political event. But it seems that open-mindedness isn’t universal across the left.

Einat Wilf, a former lawmaker for the Labor and Independence parties, says that she has just been uninvited from an upcoming Peace Now conference on the grounds that she serves on the International Advisory Council of NGO Monitor.

NGO Monitor is a self-appointed watchdog group that looks in to the operation of Israel’s non-profits, mainly those on the left. It is highly critical of many of the groups, including Yesh Din and B’Tselem, close allies of Peace Now, and constantly criticizes the fact that they receive funding from foreign governments.

Some of NGO Monitor’s supporters are strongly right wing. Others, such as the American law professor Alan Dershowitz who serves alongside Wilf on the International Advisory Council, embrace call for a two-state solution. But seemingly as far as Peace Now is concerned, membership of a group that locks horns with its allies puts even a left-leaning politician beyond the pale.

“If the Israeli Left has no place for those who support a two-state solution and who also wage battle against those who seek to delegitimize Israel, it will not return to lead the country,” Wilf said.

Yariv Oppenheimer, director of Peace Now, told the Forward that leadership of NGO Monitor is a “red flag” for Peace Now. He denied that this is because of “ideological dispute” and said it is rather because the group “tries to silence human rights organizations and civil society organizations.”


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