A Knife in the Heart of Zionism

Categories: Letters from the Leadership

Ameinu and ARZA Condemn Im Tirtzu Incitement Video as an Anti-Zionist Threat to Israel;  Call for Jewish Communal Unity to Defend Democracy and Human Rights in the Jewish State

(December 16, 2015) New York — Responding to a video released yesterday from the extremist Israeli movement Im Tirtzu that incites viewers against four Israeli human rights and democracy organizations — declaring them traitors, “foreign plants” of European governments, and supporters of terrorism — Ameinu, the largest grassroots progressive Zionist movement in North America, and ARZA, the Zionist wing of the Reform Movement, the largest Jewish religious stream in North America, today issued the following joint statement:

Im Tirztu cloaks itself in the language of Zionism, but takes actions that strike like a knife at the heart of Zionism and its vision of a Jewish and democratic state of Israel.  As leading progressive and liberal voices in the Zionist movement and American Jewish community, Ameinu and ARZA unequivocally condemn Im Tirtzu’s incitement against courageous NGOs and their staffs who work tirelessly to protect the rights of all Israelis and promote a peaceful, just and secure Israel.   Im Tirtzu’s actions are a direct threat to Israel and a desecration of the Zionist dream of Israel’s founders.

We note that in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Jewish state was founded to “foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants… be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel… ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex…guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture…

The NGOs attacked in the Im Tirtzu video — B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and HaMoked — work to defend these core principles of Israeli democracy.  And in these turbulent and dangerous times, words of incitement from Im Tirtzu and supporters in the government can have tragic consequences for both the safety of the NGO workers and their supporters in the broader public.  Moreover, this video adds to a growing culture of incitement within Israel and the Palestinian territories — one that is strengthened by divisive and irresponsible statements by government ministers and Members of the Knesset — which has already led to violence.

Ameinu and ARZA call for a united stand by the Jewish community to reject these false Zionist activists and see them for what they are: a grave threat to Israel’s future.  Im Tirtzu, the racist Lehava movement, the Tag Mechir (Price Tag) vigilantes and other foes of Israeli democracy must be denounced without reservation.   The Jewish community must also act to:

  • Ensure that no Jewish communal funds are provided to support violent and racist incitement against Israeli NGOs, Palestinian Citizens of Israel and Palestinians living under occupation;
  • Advocate that donations from groups receiving the benefit of tax exemption from the IRS not be permitted to support these dangerous anti-Zionist organizations; and
  • Call on the Israeli government to the withdraw the proposed law on the registration of NGOs and other anti-democratic legislation and administrative actions that threaten the Supreme Court, civil liberties and artistic and cultural freedom for all Israeli citizens.

Ameinu and ARZA are committed to working with partners in Israel and North America to defend Israeli democracy and fight to fulfill the Zionist dream of a Jewish and democratic Israel.  Ameinu and ARZA work together in the largest faction in the World Zionist Organization.

About Gideon Aronoff

Gideon Aronoff is the first Chief Executive Officer of Ameinu. Previously, Aronoff was President and CEO of HIAS, the American Jewish community’s international migration agency, where he oversaw service and advocacy partnerships with over 50 local Jewish communities and global programs in Israel, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Aronoff brings over 25 years of Jewish communal experience — including more than a dozen years in Washington DC — having focused on immigration, refugees, human rights, humanitarian assistance, community relations and government affairs. He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Forum, the country’s premier immigrant advocacy coalition, and was the chair from 2009 to 2012. He is a member of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey and the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Aronoff is a graduate of Brandeis University and Cornell Law School. He lives in South Orange, NJ, with his wife, Dr. Jaqueline Rogerio, and his young children Dalia and Solomon.
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