An outcry from Israeli media outlets and the Israeli cabinet was provoked on Tuesday over an anti–racism initiative directed at major Israeli political figures.
The EuroPal Forum, based in the UK and advocating for the Palestinians, began a campaign called ‘Israeli Racism in Quotes‘ at the start of this month, featuring statements from politicians currently part of the Israeli government.
Zaher Birawi, the chairman of the EuroPal Forum, said that the newly formed Israeli government is the most far–right government that has ever existed in the occupation’s history. He went on to mention that the government has expressed many anti–Palestinian statements proudly.
Several Israeli papers criticized the initiative, labeling it a “smear” campaign.
Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Amichai Chikli, said that such Palestinian organisations were motivated by a “progressive extreme leftist ideology or an Islamist ideology”, forming what it called an “alliance against the State of Israel and the Jewish people”.
Birawi categorically denied the allegations.
“All we have done is simply take those leaders’ quotes and highlight them. We didn’t put words in the mouths of the Israeli politicians,” he said, speaking from London, where the organisation is based.
Chikli told Israeli media that the “Diaspora Ministry, which is currently adding to it the units for the fight against delegitimisation, will formulate a comprehensive action plan” to deal with organisations like EuroPal Forum.
“Instead of tackling the real issues, mainly the racism expressed by Israeli politicians, some Israeli media are attacking the people ringing the alarm bell,” said Birawi.
In a statement earlier this week, the pro-Israeli NGO Ad Kan said that the campaign demonstrated a sophisticated effort to undermine Israel and that the government should respond “with a decisive and painful response”.
“Their attempt to harm the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel constitutes a security risk no less serious than firing missiles at civilians,” added the organisation.
Birawi, however, warned that Israeli civil society should work towards holding its leaders accountable for the statements they make.
“Arbitrary designations and attempts to tarnish Palestine solidarity campaigns illustrate the length to which notable Israeli groups and politicians will go in order to suppress the conversation about Israeli racism towards Palestinians,” said Birawi.