Arab members of Knesset from the Joint List are violating the law by encouraging and assisting an organization that incites Arab youth not to enlist in IDF service, according to a new report published by the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu.
The report focuses on Bladna, a state-recognized non-profit organization whose activities include holding conferences, seminars and workshops dedicated to discouraging Arab youth from enlisting in the IDF and national service. Much of Bladna’s activities take place inside schools.
According to Section 109 of Israel’s Penal Code, a person is liable to five years imprisonment if he “incited or induced a person liable to service in an armed force not to serve in it or not to report for a military.”
The report explains how Bladna’s efforts to discourage the enlistment of Druze youth, who are liable for IDF service, represent a clear violation of the law. One example cited in the report was a 2016 “History of Palestinian Druze” seminar hosted by Bladna in the Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, which stressed the “importance of refusing to enlist.”
In addition, the findings raise concerns that Bladna’s activities also constitute as acts of sedition, which is defined by the Penal Code as “the promotion of conflict and enmity between different parts of the population.”
Arab members of Knesset have publicly supported the organization and have participated in their events. In April 2017, Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh, MK Haneen Zoabi, MK Yousef Jabareen and MK Masud Ganaim participated in a Bladna-hosted a workshop in a Kfar Kanna school that focused on discouraging IDF enlistment.
Odeh’s involvement in the organization goes as far back as 2010, when he spoke at several Bladna conferences and was introduced as the Chairman of the Committee for Combating National Service and All Forms of Enlistment. In January 2017, Odeh voiced his support for refusing to enlist in a Twitter post.
The report also draws attention to Bladna’s funding, which include the US-based New Israel Fund and European governments. According to details obtained from Israel’s Non-Profit Registrar, in 2015 Bladna received nearly 2 million NIS from the European Union.
Chairman of the Subcommittee for Personnel in the IDF, MK Amir Ohana (Likud), announced his intention to convene an emergency committee session to discuss the findings of the report.
“We cannot allow for the haters of Israel to harm the IDF and its soldiers,” said Ohana. “These despicable individuals are trying to discourage IDF enlistment of the Druze community, which includes the best of our warriors and heroes.”
“The police must open a criminal investigation against those involved in Bladna, including MKs Odeh, Zoabi and Ganaim whose anti-Israel activity is in violation of two sections of the Penal Code: incitement to evasion of duty and sedition.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg emphasized how the New Israel Fund and European governments are trying to “brainwash” Arab youth against integrating in Israeli society.
“It is inconceivable that anti-Israel incitement can penetrate unhindered into Israeli schools,” said Peleg. “It is important to note how the ones to suffer the most are the Arab youth who are being brainwashed to oppose the society in which they live.”
“We are calling on the Attorney General to open an investigation against this foreign agent organization, for both inciting the Druze sector against IDF enlistment and for engaging in seditious activity by calling on an entire population of society to oppose the state.”