People power: When far-left NGO B'Tselem looked set to receive a handsome grant from the Dutch government, one quick-thinking Israeli activist stepped in determined to foil their efforts.
Right-wing activist Lev Solodkin noted B'Tselem's participation in a competition sponsored by Holland, which encourages the public to vote for which "human rights organization" should receive a grant of 100,000 euros (around 432,000 shekels).
As of Wednesday morning, B'Tselem – which has been accused of "hounding" Israeli soldiers and agitating violence against Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria – was well in the lead.
Solodkin quickly took to Facebook, urging his followers to knock the Israeli NGO off the top spot by voting for its closest rival, a fund led by Burmese human rights activist Phyo Phyo Aung.
The response was overwhelming; as of 9:00 a.m. Thursday B'Tselem has indeed been knocked down to second place, by a large margin:
The same day, however, Solodkin took to Facebook again, pointing out that the competition's rules dictate that after the September 16 deadline the top "3 public favourites" along with "3 wild cards" are placed on a shortlist, following which "an independent jury will meet and advice the Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs, who will select the winner."
"Thanks to our mobilization for battle against "B'Tselem" – the Burmese candidate rose to first place by a crazy margin, and she must now send a bouquet of flowers to all the people of Israel," he quipped.
"But our work is not done. Please note that according to the rules of the competition, the three top places are the ones which reach the final stage of the competition. That means we need to knock "B'Tselem" out of the top three."
Solodkin urged his followers who hadn't yet voted to change tactics and vote for Iranian human rights activist Maziar Bahari, who as of Thursday occupied the number three spot.
The topic of foreign-funded left-wing NGOs – most of whom play a prominent, even leading role in the international campaign to delegitimize and isolate the State of Israel – is a controversial one.
Many Israelis see them as undermining the democratic process, given that much of their funding comes from foreign governments who use them as a tool to pressure the Israeli government to enact policies which often stand contrary to popular Israeli opinion.
Moreover, B'Tselem in particular has come under fire for contributing the lion's share of anti-Israel testimony for the last two UN commissions which accused Israel of "war crimes," even as many in Israel and abroad slammed the probes as one-sided and politically-motivated.