TEL AVIV – Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday requested that NGOs in support of anti-Israel boycotts no longer receive eligibility for volunteers from Israel’s national service program.
“It is unacceptable that an organization working to harm the country with boycotts enjoys quotas [from the government] that are intended for the betterment of the country and its citizens,” Erdan wrote in a letter to the head of the national service program Uri Ariel, who also serves as Agriculture Minister.
National service, which acts as an alternative to the IDF, provides volunteers to a variety of institutions and organizations that are seen as contributing to the Jewish state.
Erdan highlighted two groups that routinely wage boycott campaigns against Israel: Amnesty International has accused Israel of committing war crimes and supports draft-dodgers. The group also runs a longterm campaign urging governments and companies to boycott goods manufactured in the West Bank. Despite this, Amnesty International is provided with six national service volunteers.
The second group Erdan mentioned is Israel Social TV, which has called for Israel’s suspension from international soccer governing body FIFA and endorsed a petition calling on Norway to “join our efforts and stop investing in the Israeli occupation.”
Ariel said he will investigate the claims made by Erdan.
“I instructed the director of the National Civilian Service Administration, Sar-Shalom Jerbi, to thoroughly examine complaints of illegal activities perpetrated by volunteers at certain organizations. The administration will not hesitate to disqualify these organizations from receiving national service quotas,” he said.
Shai Glick, CEO of the human rights group Betzalmo, said: “It cannot be that even as Israel defines the struggle against boycott movements as a strategic goal, it sends national service volunteers to organizations that promote BDS.”
Meanwhile, Knesset House Committee Chairman MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) drafted a new bill that would make it easier to file defamation lawsuits against NGOs involved in anti-Israel activity.
Kisch told the daily Israel Hayom that he will present the bill to the Knesset plenum for a preliminary reading on Wednesday.