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APN Calls on Conference of Presidents to Denounce Knesset Witch Hunt

Today APN sent the following letter to the leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations - an umbrella organization that includes representatives of 52 Jewish organizations (including APN).

Alan Solow, Chairman
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
533 Third Avenue, 21st Floor
New York, NY 10017
January 7, 2011
Dear Alan and Malcolm,
This has been a terrible week for Israeli democracy.  The Israeli Knesset voted to investigate funding of "left-wing" groups, in what can only be described as a politically-motivated witch hunt.  An Israeli Knesset member, Michael Ben-Ari, was subsequently caught on tape inciting against Peace Now and other progressive groups, going so far as to call them "germs," calling their supporters "the greatest Israel haters," and threatening to pass a law "to eradicate this dangerous enemy."  And in an almost Orwellian twist, it was revealed that the Israel Airports Authority is blocking Peace Now's website - and those of other organizations deemed to be "dangerous" - at Ben Gurion Airport.
On behalf of the tens of thousands of people who support APN and who, through us, support Israel's Peace Now movement, we are outraged and sickened by these attacks.  Peace Now, as well as other organizations Ben-Ari and those like him are attacking, are an essential component of Israeli democracy.  American supporters of APN and Peace Now are among Israel's truest friends.

Ben-Ari and others like him are abusing their powers as democratically-elected legislators to try to legislate away dissent and with it, hollow out the democratic values that American supporters of Israel have so long held high.  They seem to believe that they can strip the word 'democracy' of all meaning, erase Peace Now and the rest of Israeli civil society from the political map, and demonize their American supporters - explaining it all away with hollow talking points about "delegitimization," "transparency," and "defending Israel."
We, who care about Israel's character and future, will not sit by idly while these radicals initiate McCarthyistic witch hunts.  You and the members of the Conference of Presidents should not do so, either.  The stakes are too high. 
As a Zionist organization and a member of the Conference, we call on you, the leaders of the Conference of Presidents, to denounce the Knesset's decision to launch a witch hunt targeting specific NGOs for clear political reasons and to urge all members of the Conference to do the same. 

We also call on you to publicly condemn Ben-Ari's words, which directly smear the supporters of APN and, by extension, a member of the Conference.

Finally, we want to emphasize that this is not a "left-wing" issue.  This is about the fight for Israeli democracy and Israeli civil liberties.  It is about Israel's soul.  Along with APN, another Conference member, the American Jewish Committee has laudably recognized this, criticizing the Knesset decision in categorical terms possible.  We urge the Conference of Presidents and all its member organizations to do likewise.

Martin Bresler
Americans for Peace Now

Debra DeLee
President & CEO
Americans for Peace Now