“We can see organizations from the NIF networking in these protests right now. They are a powerful civil society player. They always try to ride on justified protests. It is fastly becoming political because of the various NGOs involved. It is the modus operandi of many NGOs to gain influence through justified protests.”
The New Israel Fund is a foundation that finances numerous anti-Israel NGOs. Around the same period of time that the New Israel Fund backing of the recent Israel protests came into the open, Matt Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, stated in an exclusive interview:
“I fear that people from the right will go and fight them, for radicalism will bring radicalism and the left wants that. The right does not. Because the left became so radical and violent, the right will attack back. It can be counter-violence now and this is not healthy for any society, especially a small one like Israel.”
“We are monitoring anarchists that go and disturb soldiers at the border,” he continued. “The same leaders of the anarchists that harass soldiers almost completely disappeared from the area and are now in Balfour and Tel Aviv. They have a different mission. Everyone is against the government. They are trying to do chaos inside. You can see the shift in the leaders of the demonstrations. In the beginning, they were demonstrating against the economic problem and the fact that the people are hungry. Then, it was against Bibi. And now, they do it because they hate Israel. They carry signs that Israel is an apartheid state and other anti-'occupation' signs. They have exposed themselves.”
He noted that Im Tirtzu called for a cessation of protests on Tisha B’Av, but the left did not cooperate on this.
Interestingly, it appears that Peleg’s fears have now come true. In the wake of all of the vandalism, the blocking off of streets, attacks on journalists, threats to murder the Prime Minister and the recent wounding of an Israeli police officer by the left, La Familia, a right wing extremist group, chanted “death to leftists” and “I hate Arabs.” They hurled rocks and assaulted journalists, photographers, and an Arab bus driver. According to the Times of Israel, 10 other demonstrators were hospitalized following violent La Familia attacks. The Jerusalem Post reported at least five hospitalized due to them at Minister Amir Ohana’s home in Tel Aviv. This in turn led to 60,000 Israelis taking to the streets to protest Saturday night.
In the wake of these developments, I ask my fellow Israelis to change course and not to follow in America’s footsteps. Anarchism and Antifa is nothing short of a death sentence for any democratic state.
If you have any doubts about that, look at Portland, Oregon today. For the past couple of months, Antifa and other anarchists have overtaken the streets of Portland, Oregon, where according to the Clarion Project, they have been violently attacking a local courthouse. Ted Van Dyk, a Democrat who has been active in Democratic national policy and politics for 40 years, noted after watching the Portland riots in real time:
"The current round of violence isn’t being undertaken by civil-justice or other reformers but by radicals using Jacobin street-violence tactics. The idea is to provoke confrontation and violence with constituted authority so as to discredit it, counting on a few gullible local residents to see police as oppressors. The pretense of peaceful protest is rapidly disappearing. Deaths, serious injuries, arson, public and private property damage, and economic dislocation have resulted.”
Due to the violent atmosphere created by these anarchists and Antifa activists in America, a recent CATO poll found that self-censorship is on the rise across the United States and that 62% of Americans today are afraid to express their true political beliefs. As a result of this reality, Former New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaking at Limmud FSU declared: “We are in a dangerous place in history.”
The challenges brought by the COVID-19 lockdown as well as the waves of violent protests have created what the former NYPD commissioner calls “the perfect storm.” This current situation also has an impact on law enforcement’s ability to protect and serve.
Kelly noted that the police now maneuver with greater cautions, which “makes them act slower.” He added, “They don’t engage as they once would have done. The result is increased violence, and I don’t see us getting out of this situation any time soon.”
According to the Clarion Project, this situation creates a dangerous situation for Jewish communities in America, who are at greater risk of falling victim to anti-Semitic hate crimes than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the eruption of America’s anarchist riots there.
Do the Israeli people really want Antifa-like anarchists to take over our streets and turn some areas of our country into something reminiscent of war-torn Syria, like they did in America? It is important to recall, what starts with calls to storm the Bastille, with some college girl posing nude on top of a menorah, the assault of an Israeli police officer, vandalism and threats to kill the Prime Minister can quickly deteriorate into anarchy and even civil war. No one who loves the State of Israel will want that.
Many of the peaceable demonstrators have real grievances. 21% of Israelis are presently unemployed. Our national airline, our hotel industry, our artists, our singers, our actors, our theaters, our cinemas, the Israel Museum and so many national treasures and industries that we care about are on the brink of economic ruin because of the pandemic.
We are living through very dark times.
People have every right to be angry about what has happened to our world. After all, how can we preserve our national culture without the ability to properly display our archeological treasures, to perform plays, to hold concerts and to show movies in the cinema? What kind of life are we providing to our children, if they cannot go to children’s plays, amusement parks and water parks, and enjoy life like regular children? How long can our shopping malls, restaurants, and stores function like that? And what about the small businessmen, who had a falafel stand or other small store or restaurant that went under? What kind of country will we be if we have no small businesses and just large chains and government owned enterprises?
All of this has a heavy psychological cost upon the Israeli population. ERAN, Israel’s emotional first aid service, has reported a massive increase in the number of calls. This came after Israel Hayom reported that 42% of Israelis are suffering from stress and anxiety during the second wave of the pandemic, 21% of Israelis feel depressed and 21% of Israelis have been forced to reduce food consumption due to the economic cost of the pandemic. There is evidence that increased economic insecurity leads not only to more depression, more anxiety, and other forms of psychological distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, alongside more domestic violence, and rape within the family. It can also lead to more suicide attempts and actual suicides.
Considering this, many people want to protest, for it gives them an outlet for voicing the pain and the sorrow that is overwhelming them. However, even though I agree with many of the grievances voiced by the demonstrators and am an outspoken activist against further lockdowns due to the psychological and economic cost of such a policy, I am not going out to demonstrate, for I do not want to protest beside individuals chanting against the State of Israel and waving Palestinian flags. I do not want to give legitimacy to individuals that objectify women and transform them into sexual objections by going nude in public.
I do support the democratic right to protest and believe that Israelis should voice their real grievances in these demonstrations. However, more of an effort should be made to ensure that New Israel funded groups and other anti-Israel activists do not overtake the protests and bring the Antifa-style anarchy that has overrun America here. Otherwise, the unity of the Jewish people that has made this country the amazing place that it is will be in shambles. Therefore, we should invest in having a dialogue with the government over our real grievances rather than continuing along the self-destructive path of importing anarchy and Antifa, which is an anti-Semitic movement, to the Jewish state.
We have a prime minister who just appointed a new coronavirus czar, who is committed to talking to us and is doing everything possible to avoid another lockdown. There are now discussions about lifting additional restrictions. In recent times, a lot of the more regressive restrictions were avoided, precisely because of the economic and psychological cost of such measures. It appears that the government is listening to the suffering of the Israeli people. We as the people should give them the chance to do their jobs and to fix any past mistakes that they made, rather than self-destruct.
Rachel Avraham is an Israel-based journalist and a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.