This week, we once more witnessed the Shin Bet internal security agency attempt to intimidate a critic of government policy. Veteran American journalist Peter Beinart, who came to Israel to attend his niece's bat mitzvah, was detained at the airport and questioned about his political activities. The prime minister's office later called the incident an "administrative mistake." This is not the first time the Shin Bet has overstepped its authority. For the past two months, Israeli human rights or political activists have been subjected to "warning conversations."
We at ACRI take seriously the unwarranted harassment of civil society organizations and activists. Following ACRI’s petition to the Supreme Court, it was ruled in 2017 that before an Israeli citizen be subject to a "warning conversation," that person must be served with a summons that specifies that their cooperation is voluntary. Otherwise, their detention is illegal and violates the dictates of the Supreme Court.
ACRI will not give license to abuse of authority in an attempt to restrict public discussion or criticism of Israeli policies, and wage a campaign of intimidation against civil society organizations and activists. Since June 2018, ACRI has written three successive letters of complaint about detentions to the Attorney General's office, arguing that they are not related to security and illegal. The Deputy Attorney General has asked the Shin Bet to respond to ACRI’s inquiry.
Today, more than ever, your support is essential in enabling ACRI to put an end to harassment at the border and defend democracy and freedom of expression. All individuals and organizations have the right to express their opinion, even if it is critical of government policies. Donate now and let's make sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps his word that "Israel is an open society which welcomes all – critics and supporters alike."
Chief Legal Counsel
Association for Civil Rights in Israel
Major national and international media outlets, among which the New York Times, Haaretz (one on ACRI’s complaint regarding detention of activists; the other on legal rights in case of harassment), Jerusalem Post, and CNN not only covered ACRI’s central role in putting an end to the harassment of civil organizations and activists but also approached ACRI for its legal expertise on this outstanding issue.