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Why the Israeli right wants to ban books, persecute NGOs

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says funding by European states to NGOs advances foreign interests; yet millions of euros have also been transferred from the EU to Israeli government agencies.

There does not appear to be any connection between the decision by the Education Ministry headed by Naftali Bennett to ban the book “Borderlife” by Dorit Rabinyan from high school curricula and the Transparency Bill, which tags nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from overseas when they visit the Knesset or publish reports, being promoted by his party colleague Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. In fact, the banning of a literary work and the harassment of human rights groups dedicated to scrutiny of the state are two peas in the same pod. Bennett is worried that a love story between an Arab and a Jewess threatens the purity of the Jewish race. Shaked is worried that organizations such as Breaking the Silence threaten the purity of the Jewish occupation. Works like “Borderlife” remove barriers between Jews and Arabs by promoting the view that all men are created in the image of God. That is why such works hurt the political interests of Bennett and his friends to shape voters in their image, because to do that they must uproot any hint — even a literary one — that advances dialogue and coexistence between the two people based on equality.

In response to the criticism of the Transparency Bill, Shaked quoted former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” Therefore, Shaked argues, Europe would not support Israeli entities for no reason, simply out of friendship. She believes the proposed legislation “labels the foreign interest of various countries in the world that wish to operate NGOs here and funnel hundreds of millions of shekels to them for that purpose.” Among those organizations are those that are interested in promoting coexistence between Jews and Arabs living in Israel.

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