Monday, 19 April 2010

Israel Matzav: At least they're consistent

At least they're consistent

About ten days ago, posters like the one at top left started appearing around Jerusalem. They probably didn't raise a whole lot of eyebrows given how many corruption charges former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is facing. But a few days ago, posters started to appear with pictures of Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that also had the "wanted" logo. That appeared strange. Barak hasn't been accused of being corrupt since he violated campaign finance rules (I believe he and/or his campaign was convicted of that one and paid a fine) in the early part of the last decade. So what were these new posters?

As it turns out, the posters were the latest phase in a campaign by Im Tirtzu against the New Israel Fund. The posters are meant to raise the specter of Olmert and Barak being wanted internationally because of information given by New Israel Fund-supported NGO's to the Goldstone Commission. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bulletin board: Two poster hangers were arrested. Admirably, their cause has been taken up by the ACRI (the Association for Civil Rights in Israel - like the ACLU in the US), despite the fact that the ACRI is also supported by the New Israel Fund.

Student group Im Tirtzu (If you will it) – The Second Zionist Revolution, announced on Sunday that it was behind the posters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former prime minister Ehud Olmert with the word “wanted” written across the bottom.

According to Im Tirtzu, the posters and a report being released this week titled “The New Israel Fund and Lawsuits Against Israeli Leaders” are part of a new campaign against the NIF called “Subversives, we’re sick of you!”

The “wanted” posters reference the possibility that Olmert and Barak, as well as other Israeli leaders, could face war-crimes charges abroad following last winter’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Im Tirtzu says such charges would be based largely on testimony and evidence collected by organizations funded by the NIF.

ACRI executive director Hagai El-Ad told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Im Tirtzu’s public campaigns against the NIF were not relevant to the ACRI’s defense of its freedom of expression.

“We at ACRI are steadfast in our commitment to freedom of speech for everyone, regardless of their political position,” he said.

“It’s clear that the ads that Im Tirtzu put out are part of a legitimate expression of freedom of speech and the police had no right to arrest them,” El-Ad said. “We think this is another alarming incident in which the police have shown a basic misunderstanding of the proper defense of the freedom of speech.”

Give ACRI credit: At least they're consistent.

Israel Matzav: At least they're consistent

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