Rather, the transformation of the human rights NGOs into a threat involves the increasing use of universal jurisdiction in the ICC, as well as in regional and domestic courts, alongside the fact that the information that human rights organizations produce is used as evidence of egregious violations in these courts. But it is also informed by the increasing erosion of the international legitimacy of Israel’s discriminatory policies, vis-à-vis non-Jews in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel. The threat, in other words, emerges from broader changes in the international arena and is systemic.
Put differently, from a legal point of view, the Israeli organizations never constituted a threat to the state. Their petitions were filed within the domestic court system, which is both embedded within the state apparatus and which has almost always supported state’s acts of dispossession and violence.
The threat is rather an outcome of long years of work, revealing how at times endurance and quantity can produce unexpected political effects. The press releases, reports, fact sheets, maps, pictures and videos produced by these (and Palestinian) NGOs have been circulating in the cyber sphere for many years now. Over the past decade a much broader international constituency has been receptive to this information. Gradually, the notion that Israel’s rights abusive policies are merely temporal and are being imposed as a reaction against Palestinian violence lost all credibility. Increasingly, the evidence of abuse succeeded to engender diplomatic embarrassment and to trigger global grassroots political campaigns.
Repressive forces in Israel are concerned about the fact that the evidence of systematic violations gathered by local human rights NGOs—with the support of international funding—is exceeding the boundaries of the domestic debate. They are threatened because the accusations of abuse are piling into an immense archive of state orchestrated violence, an archive that can no longer be marshaled within the state’s legal, political and symbolic space. To paraphrase Antonio Gramsci, repressive forces are threatened because the state no longer manages to absorb human rights.