The 2016 Israeli Democracy Index, published by the Israel Democracy Institute, indicates that the Israeli public has lost faith in human rights organizations. According to the study, 71% of the Jewish public in Israel believes “human rights and civil rights organizations cause damage to the state.” Moreover, 76% of those who identify as politically centrist view these organizations as hostile agents, so this phenomenon is not restricted to one political camp.
The deterioration in the public’s treatment of human rights and civil rights organizations can be attributed to the radicalization and politicization of these organizations’ activities. This politicization not only harms the public’s trust in those organizations, but it can also influence the extent to which the public respects those rights.
The bleak results of the study are an opportunity for the organizations in Israel to look in the mirror, to do some soul-searching and set off on a new path. We can hope that the language of human rights will be heard to promote basic behavioral norms, and not to promote a narrow political platform. Likewise, this is an opportunity for the governments in Europe and the EU to examine the results of their funding and its negative influences on Israeli society. With a desire to rise above narrow and short-term political interests, it will be possible to restore the standing of human rights organizations in Israel, and thereby ensure those rights are given their proper place in an advanced democratic society.