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“Israel declares war on its own civil society” – by Ramzy Baroud, Arab News

“Let it be clear about what this actually means. Israel’s leading human rights organization was not arguing that the country was turning into an apartheid state, that it was acting contrary to the spirit of democracy, or that it is an undemocratic apartheid regime only within the confines of the Occupied Territories. According to B’Tselem — which has for decades diligently documented numerous facets of Israeli government practices in the realms of politics, military, land ownership, water distribution, health, education, and much more — Israel is run by a wholly apartheid, undemocratic regime.

However, government actions of recent years have pointed to an unmistakable paradigm shift, where Israeli civil society organizations are increasingly perceived to be the enemy, targeted in myriad ways, including defamation actions, financial restrictions and the severing of access to the Israeli public. The last point was put on full display on Jan. 17, when Israeli Education Minister Yoav Galant tweeted that he had instructed his ministry to "prevent the entry of organizations calling Israel ‘an apartheid state’ or demeaning Israeli soldiers from lecturing at schools." However, by doing so, Galant only demonstrated B’Tselem’s point: After the group challenged Israel’s claims of democracy and freedom of expression, he curtailed their right to express dissent and challenge the government.”

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