Right Group’s ‘Fingering’ Campaign Not Incitement, Says Gov’t

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Im Tirzu activist protests against ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, on July 7, 2014 Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90
An Im Tirtzu activist protests against ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, July 7, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prosecutors have decided not to pursue a case against right-wing group Im Tirtzu over a recent campaign, in which it “fingers” leftists whom it claims are working on behalf of European nonprofit organizations and against Israeli interests. Prosecutors thus rejected calls from the left to prosecute the group for incitement to violence. There was no incitement, said Deputy State Prosecutor Amit Isman; the organization’s message in pointing out the who’s and what’s of European involvement in leftist NGOs had been to prompt Israelis to support a bill against foreign NGO involvement in Israeli politics.

According to Yisrael Hayom, Isman sent his opinion to four groups that had demanded that the charges be filed. “There is no reason to open an investigation in this matter,” he wrote. “The bottom line of the Im Tirtzu campaign was clearly not to support violence, but to support a bill it was proposing.”

In the campaign, which consisted of printed material and social media messages, Im Tirtzu “named names,” including senior members of groups like B’Tselem, as “foreign agents” who were funded by European groups. Those Israeli groups, with foreign backing, besmirch the name of Israel and act against it, weakening it in the international arena, Im Tirtzu charged.

In their complaints, the groups said that the right-wing group had essentially “called for our blood to be spilled,” and that right-wing “hotheads” would likely take the hint and physically attack the leftist activists. The groups cited as proof what they said were incendiary responses that were posted on social media sites in response to the campaign.

In his letter, Isman said that the most the state could prove against Im Tirtzu was libel – and even that could be difficult to prove, since the state would have to prove that the right-wing group intended to besmirch the activists personally, and not their activities. As such, “there are no grounds to bring criminal charges against the group for threats and other issues, as requested,” the report quoted the letter as saying.