The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) and Reconstructing Judaism express deep concern over last week’s decision by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to declare six Palestinian human rights groups to be “terror organizations.” Absent compelling evidence, this policy enacts a draconian measure that will criminalize critical human rights work.
This decision makes no distinction between those waging a violent struggle against the state and the people of Israel and those organizations that defend human rights. We agree with the members of the Israeli government and Israeli human and civil rights communities who have expressed dismay, apprehension, and doubts about the legitimacy and soundness of such a measure. The timing of this announcement coincides with an alarming rise in violence by settlers, accompanied by an alleged failure of the IDF to protect Palestinian civilians. While it can be difficult for diaspora Jews to criticize the Israeli government on matters of security, at this time we are concerned that such actions undermine Israel’s international standing and further undermine the prospects for peace.
The RRA and Reconstructing Judaism are committed to the principles of democracy, the strengthening of democratic institutions and the development of civil society for all people. This action, without compelling evidence, is destructive to those values.