The core of the controversy surrounding scores of politically-motivated NGOs in
Israel is not only whether their activities are detrimental to the state, but
their inordinate influence in shaping government policy, media perceptions, and
Virtually totally funded by foreign governments, the
EU/EC, anti-Israeli organizations and church groups, these NGOs have direct and
indirect ties with government officials who are empowered to decide crucial
Many of these officials are and/or were associated with
controversial NGOs, a clear conflict of interest – and, if not illegal,
With access to those in power and a sympathetic
media, these NGOs exploit Israeli democracy and manipulate the judicial system
to further their political agendas disguised as free speech and humanitarian
Israelis are asking, therefore, what right foreign governments,
organizations, foundations and churches critical of Israeli policies and harmful
to Jews have to promote their interests through local NGOs.
This is not
about legitimate rights to protest abuses of civil and humanitarian rights, but
attempts to change the basic nature of the state and undermine its values and
Their relentless attack against the right of Jews to live in
eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria strikes at Israel’s right to exist at
Pursuing agendas which demonize and delegitimize Israel, these NGOs
were involved in the Durban Anti- Racism Conference and provided false
information to the UNHRC Commission on Gaza headed by Richard
Since these controversial NGOs receive almost no funds from
Israelis, why should they be considered “Israeli?” They are essentially foreign
NGOs staffed by Israelis and in some cases non-Israelis.
by NGO-Monitor, the Institute for Strategic Studies and Im Tirzu, based on
financial records filed with Rasham Ha’amutot, which approves non-profit
organizations, focused primarily on funds received by controversial NGOs
particularly from foreign governments. The full picture, however, reveals that
the NGOs are almost entirely and exclusively funded by foreign groups – directly
In 2010, for example, Breaking the Silence received about
NIS 3.1 million; 1.5 million from the EU, UK and Spanish government. The rest
came from Oxfam, the New Israel Fund (NIF), Dutch, German, Danish and Irish
church organizations, and even NDC, the Palestinian NGO which promotes
Boycott/Divest/Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
In 2010, B’Tselem received
about NIS 9.3 million; 1.75 million from Norway, EU and Britain. The rest came
from Dutch, Irish, Swedish, German, Danish church organizations, NDC, George
Soros’ Open Society, NIF and private foundations.
Peace Now’s latest
listed budget (2009) was about NIS 4 million; NIS 2.1 million from Norway,
Britain and Belgium. NIS 1.6 million came from American Friends of Peace Now,
and NIS 250,000 from Canadian Friends and George Soros.
pockets, these NGOs engage in domestic “lawfare,” using the judicial system and
media against Israel and Jews.
Several years ago, for example, Peace Now
charged that 85 percent of Ma’ale Adumim was built on “private
Palestinian/Beduin land” and produced a lavish booklet filled with maps to prove
their point. The story was front-page news until a week later; when challenged,
Peace Now admitted that they were wrong. The media which had proclaimed Peace
Now’s charges didn’t bother to print a correction and the damage was
Numerous legal actions brought against government policy and Jews
living in disputed areas are initiated by foreign-funded NGOs like Peace Now,
Yesh Din and ACRI – whose members and associates have judicial, academic and
prosecutorial roles. Late justice Haim Cohen, for example, was one of the
founders of ACRI. Bringing cases to the High Court allows the court to make
Without any ability to challenge these decisions,
they become law.
Critics of proposed Knesset legislation to restrict
anti-Israel NGOs charge that it undermines democracy and stifles free
Its advocates argue that the NGOs in question serve as
propagandists against Israel, threaten the state’s democratic system via their
exaggerated claims and influence and cripple Israel’s ability to defend itself
in the international community.
Why do foreign organizations pour
hundreds of millions of dollars and Euros into political NGOs that have nothing
to do with their national or genuine humanitarian interests? Why do they pay for
publications which present Israel one-dimensionally as a violator of human and
civil rights – intended to malign Israel around the world? This dispute is about
the absence of accountability and a lack of transparency.
That means not
only listing one’s sponsors, but full disclosure, including of transfers of
funds between NGOs and of how funds are used. For example, although the EU no
longer sends funds directly to B’Tselem, it does so indirectly via funds to ACRI
which are sent to B’Tselem and other NGOs.
Minimally, the Rasham
Ha’amutot has the authority to monitor contributions to NGOs and the
relationship between these NGOs and foreign interests who may be inimical to the
Jewish state. Monitoring means data collection and dissemination of that data,
including detailed reports on their activities, sources of funding, governance,
etc., as is done in the US, for example.
The mechanism that NGO Monitor
has developed to evaluate NGOs can be used by the Rasham, the Comptroller and a
special Knesset committee to develop criteria for approval and full
Restricting the ability of foreign governments, churches
and foundations to fund programs and activities which harm Jews and the state
demonstrates Israeli sovereignty and national self-respect.
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist.