Even Is­raeli right knows the NGO law can­not pass

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

LIKE SIM­I­LAR pieces of leg­is­la­tion pro­posed in re­cent years by right-wing politi­cians, the new NGO “trans­parency” bill, ap­proved on Sun­day by the min­is­te­rial leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee, is un­likely to ever be­come law.

It is sim­ply an­other shot across the bows of Is­rael’s hu­man rights ad­vo­cacy com­mu­nity, much of which is funded through grants from Euro­pean gov­ern­ments.

The law would force or­gan­i­sa­tions that re­ceive more than half of their fund­ing from for­eign gov­ern­ments to note the fact promi­nently in their pub­li­ca­tions.

The law, the brain­child of Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party, is an at­tempt to stig­ma­tise such groups as “un-Is­raeli”. While os­ten­si­bly apo-

Ayelet Shaked lit­i­cal, it clearly tar­gets or­gan­i­sa­tions on the left of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, as they are the ones that have con­tacts with for­eign gov­ern­ments.

NGOs on the right are also heav­ily funded from abroad. How­ever, the cash mainly comes from pri­vate donors, who are not men­tioned in the leg­is­la­tion.

Crit­ics claim that by leav­ing out pri­vately fi­nanced or­gan­i­sa­tions, the law has lit­tle to do with “trans­parency” as it sheds no light on do­na­tions from shad­owy bil­lion­aires and oli­garchs.

Those in favour of the law counter that Is­raelis should be al­lowed to know which for­eign gov­ern­ments are try­ing to in­flu­ence Is­raeli pol­icy and in­ter­nal af­fairs. The law is part of a wider cam­paign against groups cam­paign­ing for civil rights, equal­ity for all Is­raeli com­mu­ni­ties and bet­ter mon­i­tor­ing of hu­man­rights abuses in the West Bank. Th­ese left-wing groups have been ac­cused of be­ing for­eign “plants” that sub­vert Is­rael’s ex­is­ten­tial in­ter­ests.

The law will prob­a­bly be quashed in the Knes­set as not all the mem­bers of the coali­tion are in favour and the gov­ern­ment is com­ing un­der dis­crete pres­sure from Is­rael’s al­lies in Europe to shelve the bill.

From the per­spec­tive of the law’s supporters at least, this pres­sure gives some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to the claims of for­eign­ers tam­per­ing with Is­rael’s po­lit­i­cal process.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ments sup­ply­ing civil so­ci­ety groups in Is­rael with grants are, by and large, mem­bers of the EU, which is Is­rael’s main trad­ing part­ner and the source of hun­dreds of mil­lions of eu­ros in fund­ing for Is­raeli re­search and de­vel­op­ment. EU cash also pays for other projects in which Euro­pean gov­ern­ments and or­gan­i­sa­tions co-op­er­ate di­rectly with Is­raeli min­istries and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment is even fund­ing Is­rael’s ac­qui­si­tion of Ger­man-built sub­marines and mis­sile boats — a key de­fence project for the Jewish state.

The right wing is fully aware of this con­tra­dic­tion, which is why, even­tu­ally, they will let the law be buried for­ever. Their in­ten­tion was merely to de­monise those pesky NGOs.


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