DONATE: Tomorrow will be a historic event in the graphic history of this blog (at present, the sidebar is missing but it will reappear!). Over the past decade I’ve used various free themes. A few years ago, I began using a paid theme, Thesis. But this theme has fallen out of favor in the WordPress community and a recent update caused a conflict between WP and Thesis. As a result, the comment feature stopped working properly.
As a result, I’ve spent many hours seeking a professional web designer to help me migrate to a Genesis theme. He’s tested it out and we’re going to go live tonight. The site will look different. Remember, it’s not yet a finished product. I’m learning my way around the new theme and will be tweaking and modifying as I go along.
This project is going to cost around $500. For those of you who were seriously bothered by the recent problems with the comment threads, I hope it’s worth putting up some money to pay for this fix to the problem. Use the Paypal or Network for Good links in the sidebar to make your contributions, for which I’ll be very grateful.
Today, Mint Press published my expose of the conspiracy by Israeli settlers, the IDF, State prosecutors, and at least one member of the Internal Security Ministry to destroy several Israeli human rights NGOs and one of their most effective, and controversial activists, Ezra Nawi. After Uvdah aired its deeply flawed segment which documented the planting of right-wing spies in the South Hebron Hills-based Taayush, Ezra Nawi came under physical assault and threats of death.
When friends in Europe offered him refuge there, he boarded a flight to Europe. After passing through border control and taking his seat on the plane, Shabak agents removed him, despite the fact that there was no order for his arrest, nor even for questioning. Nor had he been added to any list preventing him from leaving the country.
Then rumors were bruited about by security forces that Nawi had “contacted a foreign agent” in pursuit of an unspecified crime. He was arrested and yesterday he appeared in court. Shabak has prohibited him from contact with his lawyer. Now they’ve put the entire episode under gag order. So while yesterday, reporters could report on the case and name Nawi, now they must obscure their prior knowledge. Israeli readers, presumably, have been commanded by the security services to forget what they knew only yesterday. Only in the national security state.
Ad Kan, the group founded to smash Israel’s human rights NGOs, is what’s known as an astro-turf organization. They were established to hide the involvement of other powerful right-wing groups and government entities which preferred to go under the radar. Among those are the Shomron Regional Council, the IDF, and a government security ministry. Walla reported today that the settler council had contributed “tens of thousands of shekels” to Ad Kan in each of the three years of its existence. The Shomron Council is the same body which produced the odious video, the Eternal Jew (YouTube), which portrayed human rights NGOs with Der Sturmer-style caricatures. Among other things, it accused the NGOs of betraying Israelis and leading to their murder at the hands of unspecified anti-Semites. At the conclusion, the NGO leaders gladly take their 30 pieces of silver from their EU masters.
So in that sense, the work of Ad Kan is an extension of the propaganda enterprise the Council started with the video accusing NGOs of collaborating with Nazis and Jew haters.
Walla adds that the right-wing spy group also targeted Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence, but appears to have come up empty-handed regarding them. BtS just revealed that an infiltrator named Amir Beit Arie offered it false testimony which it never used in its public reports. Beit Arie disappeared from the group after he was caught taping a staff meeting and reprimanded. It seems likely he was also an Ad Kan stoolie.
The news site reports on one Gilad Ach, one of the founders of Ad Kan. Ach received funding for two previous organizations, at least one of which was designed to infiltrate the Israeli left. The first was the Forum for a Green Israel and second, Defense of a Jewish Democratic Israel. Though the latter group performed the actual spy work, Ach wanted to shield this group so he founded the astro-turf organization, Ad Kan. Though Ach denies it received funding from the settler council, he did admit that the council funded the Green Israel group. However, a review of council funding shows it did not fund any projects devoted to environmentalism. So it appears Defense of a Jewish Democratic Israel did receive the funding mentioned above. Walla reports that this funding in turn supported the spying activities of Ad Kan.
The settler council is funded by an official government body, the Shomron Regional Council. That is why Ach needed to hide its funding behind an astro-turf group. The Regional Council does not want its support made public. And it loudly denies any connection to Ad Kan. But in reality, there is only one degree of separation between the Regional Council and Ad Kan.
All this means that Israeli taxpayer funds are transferred officially by the government to Ad Kan and its various organizational manifestations. So if you’re an Israeli, you funded, directly or indirectly both the reprehensible video mentioned above and the attempt to destroy Israeli human rights work in the form of the Uvdah “expose.” The settler council also was the principal force pressuring to transform Israeli bus routes in the West Bank into an apartheid transportation system. After an international outcry, the defense minister, who had supported the proposal wholeheartedly, backed off.
Ach also created a group of election observers who monitored Arab polling places in the last elections. Their work was intended to expose voter fraud in the Arab sector and intimidate voters in much the way that GOP poll-workers do in U.S. minority election polling stations. He provided the observers their own security force in case they were attacked. This project, the Shomron settler council does admit supporting financially.
I tried earlier unsuccessfully to find any sort of online footprint for Ad Kan. A friend just located its website, which was first registered in October 2015. This is the same time that the group registered officially as an Israeli organization. It is also roughly when the group handed over its spy videos to an Uvdah producer for possible airing. In both cases, the individual who registered the group and the website was Aviram Zeevi. Yossi Gurvitz discovered that as of 2011, Zeevi worked for the Internal Security ministry. This is the body which oversees the police and various other domestic law enforcement agencies.
I reached Zeevi by telephone and tried to pose some questions to him, but he told me I must first approach Ad Kan’s public relations staffer, Liran Weiss. At least Zeevi confirmed he used to work for the ministry but now appears to work mainly for Ad Kan.
I also e mailed a series of questions to Uvdah about the segment it aired and the producer, Gabriela Bistritzky, refused to respond to them. Here is her reply:
The documentary speaks for itself. As a respectable journalist outlet we do not respond on queries regarding our sources.
The art of the non-response response. This is an example of media practicing the art of obfuscation and opacity.
The two infiltrators mentioned above were Itzik Goldway, a sergeant in the IDF who was decorated for service during Operation Protective Edge; and his girlfriend, Yulia Tarantarova. The Facebook account of Israeli activists features this photo of Tarantarova holding the spy video camera used to film Nawi and others. She is surrounded by an IDF officer and Border Police. Though this isn’t definitive proof, it’s unusual for activists to be alone while surrounded by security forces. Unless of course, she’s collaborating with them.
In his latest Haaretz column, Gideon Levy calls all this outrageous right-wing calumny in collusion with the security apparatus, Introduction to the Stasi (Hebrew). He calls it a form of “chasing after demons.” And lest anyone argue that all this is the product of right-wing extremism, Levy reminds us that virtually all sectors from the right to the center, from the media to the security apparatus to ordinary citizens, constitute a smug and self-satisfied “coalition” supporting this witch hunt atmosphere, especially surrounding the persecution of the NGOs and Nawi.
Levy offers an added cogent argument against Nawi’s detention: he is accused of contact with a foreign agent. That is, the Palestinian security services. The same body which the puppet of the Israeli security apparatus. He wonders when all of the Israeli army officers and Shabak agents who regularly liaise with these same foreign agents will themselves be thrown in prison and denied access to their attorneys.
Finally, one of Haaretz’s few remaining progressive columnists rails against Uvdah’s presenter, Ilana Dayan, for declaring that “she works on behalf of no one.” The claim is laughable on its face. All of Israeli media work on behalf of the very same security apparatus-settler lobby which produced such scuzzy journalism.