There is an obsessiveness in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and his political associates’ relentless campaign against human rights organizations in Israel. In their preoccupation with these organizations they are ready to compromise the country’s democratic values and its standing in the world. This week his campaign against the human rights organizations, Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, reached new absurd levels. In an act of hollow defiance he canceled a meeting with the visiting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who despite Israeli pressure, met with representatives of these organizations. When Netanyahu tried to climb down from his high horse and called Gabriel he found his call unanswered. Moreover, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave full and public backing to her foreign minister, putting Netanyahu in his place and enhancing the international reputation of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
The Israeli government is not unique in disliking criticism, especially from human rights organizations, but in recent years it pursues a witch-hunt against them, which ranges from harassing them through legislation to inciting against them. They are portrayed as traitors that cause damage to Israel’s reputation in the world to an extent that would bring calamity on the country. A member of Knesset from the ruling the Likud party called Breaking the Silence activity a “poison” that had to be brought to an end. They are frequently accused of spreading lies, though there is no shred of evidence to these allegations.