US Embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks in September exposed the ugly truth that
self-described champions of Israeli democracy would like us to forget about the
actual goals of Israel’s self-described human rights organizations.
meeting with then US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner at the US
Embassy in Tel Aviv in January 2010, B’Tselem director Jessica Montell explained
what her group wished to achieve by colluding with the UN’s Goldstone
Commission’s inquiry into Israel’s handling of Operation Cast Lead. According to
the embassy report, Montell said, “Her aim...was to make Israel weigh
world opinion and consider whether it could ‘afford another operation like
In other words, in colluding with the UN’s anti-Israel commission, whose
mandate from the UN Human Rights Council was to explain how Israel broke
international law by acting to defend its citizens from Hamas’s illegal,
indiscriminate missile assault, B’Tselem’s goal was to undermine Israel’s
ability to defend itself. B’Tselem wished to use the UN commission to foment an
international witch-hunt against the Jewish state that would exact a prohibitive
price for defending the country. Israel’s democratically elected government
would react to the international onslaught by ignoring the needs of the Israeli
public and opting not to defend the country again.
Obviously, if Israel
ceases to defend itself, in light of its enemies’ dedication to its destruction,
it will cease to exist. And in a meeting with US Embassy officers in February
2010, Hedva Radovanitz, the New Israel Fund’s then-associate director in Israel
said that would be just fine by her. According to a leaked embassy cable report
of the meeting, Radovanitz said “she believed that in 100 years Israel would be
majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the
tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”
LIKES of Radovanitz and Montell are acutely aware that most Israelis do not
share their extremist goals or their radical visions for Israel’s
Radovanitz acknowledged that public support for the radical left,
which the NIF supports to the tune of $18 million per year, has no serious
As the cable put it, she described the
“disappearance of the political left wing” in Israel and the lack of domestic
constituency for the NGOs.
She noted that “when she headed ACRI’s [the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s] Tel Aviv office, ACRI had 5,000
members, while today it has less than 800, and it was only able to muster about
5,000 people to its December  human rights march by relying on the active
staff of the 120 NGOs that participated.”
As for Montell, in a meeting
with the US Embassy’s political officer in February 2010, she “estimated that
[B’Tselem’s] 9 million NIS ($2.4 million) budget is 95 percent funded from
abroad, mostly from European countries.”
The reality that these
Wikileaks-leaked documents expose is precisely the reality which the Knesset
this week launched a renewed effort to contend with by submitting three separate
bills for consideration. Two of the Knesset bills address the issue of foreign
funding to NGOs. One bill would limit the amount of funding Israeli political
NGOs can receive from foreign governments and international organizations like
the EU and the UN to NIS 20,000 per year. A competing bill would deny tax
exemptions – that is, government subsidies – for such contributions and apply a
45% tax to all such foreign contributions.
While the laws would apply to
all NGOs, obviously they would be particularly problematic for the NGOs run by
Israeli radicals like Montell and Radovanitz that have no domestic Israeli
constituency and rely on foreign governments to support their anti-Israel
THE THIRD bill addresses the main source of the political power
of these foreign-funded NGOs – Israel’s radicalized Supreme Court.
the past 20 years or so, as the radical left has discredited itself as a
political force in Israel, it has increasingly used the Supreme Court to achieve
its aims. The Court is dominated by far leftists who legislate laws from the
bench that would never pass in the Knesset.
Petitioning the Supreme
Court, EU-funded groups like B’tselem, Peace Now and Adalah have been able to
place court-imposed constraints on IDF operations.
They have been able to
block or hamper the implementation of security measures that enjoy broad public
support like the construction of the security fence.
They are able to
block political leaders from devising and carrying out policies they believe
serve the country’s interests such as preventing illegal PLO activities in
Jerusalem and building Jewish communities on Jewish- owned land in the
The Supreme Court’s radical legislative agenda is not limited to
political and security issues. It has also overturned Knesset laws to liberalize
the media and privatize sectors of the economy like the prison system. It has
acted on the basis of constitutional claims that have little grounding in actual
law, and that it applies inconsistently in accordance with its judges’
The public has taken notice of the Court’s
increasingly undemocratic activities. According to a recent Maagar Mohot poll,
the Supreme Court, once the most trusted institution in Israel, is now seen by
54% of the public as politically biased and, by a 75% to 11% margin, slanted
left. Sixty-three percent of the public believes that the personal political
views of the judges influence their legal decisions to some degree.
Supreme Court’s radical agenda is facilitated by Israel’s undemocratic method of
selecting its members.
Court members are appointed by the Judicial
Appointments Committee. For all practical purposes, the committee is controlled
by the Supreme Court itself and so the justices effectively select themselves.
Fifty-six percent of the public wants this selection method changed.
bill submitted by Likud MKs Yariv Levin and Zev Elkin would subject all Supreme
Court nominees to public hearings conducted by the Knesset’s Law, Constitution
and Justice Committee. These hearings would provide legislators and the public
with full disclosure on the views, activities and associations of prospective
justices. Doing so would constitute a tiny step toward bringing court
appointments procedures more in line with those in effect in most other western
While the bills dealing with foreign funding of NGOs and the
bill concerning Supreme Court appointments are ostensibly unrelated, in fact
they are directly linked.
Speaking to the media, the heads of various
NGOs claim that the bills addressing their foreign funding are
“unconstitutional” and therefore of little concern.
They know that they
can depend on their ideological brethren in the Supreme Court to protect them
from the public and its representatives in the Knesset. Just as the Court has
not hesitated to block legitimate governmental policies and reforms in the past
in the interest of the justices’ radical ideological convictions, so the NGO
representatives believe, the Court will protect them from the Knesset’s actions
this time around as well.
This means that the only way to protect Israeli
democracy from subversive, foreign funded groups who seek to undermine the
foundations of the state is to reform the Supreme Court that enables their
All the bills that were submitted this week are serious
attempts to tackle a serious threat to Israel democracy.
And they are not
the first of their kind. Over the past several years, Israel’s legislators have
introduced several bills aimed at achieving the same goals. And each of these
bills in turn has been attacked by the leftist Israeli media as
The media are repeating their standard practice today.
Rather than foster debate about the substance of these bills and the problems
they seek to address, the media are colluding with the heads of the NGOs and
their foreign governmental donors to demonize the bills’ sponsors and to
threaten Israel with “diplomatic consequences” if the Knesset moves ahead with
All of this is bad enough. But what makes the situation
even worse is the behavior of self-declared champions of democracy among senior
Likud politicians. In the name of democracy, Ministers Bennie Begin, Michael
Eitan, and Dan Meridor all oppose these measures, which are all focused on
protecting and strengthening Israeli democracy.
Meridor can always be
depended on to take the position of the left against his party’s voters. But
Begin and Eitan have distinguished themselves as independent thinkers. Eitan has
taken a tough and independent line on governmental corruption. Begin has not
hesitated to oppose the leftist media and bureaucracy in issues related to
Yet here, these men habitually embrace the specious and
frankly indefensible arguments of the radical left that represents no one but
itself and its foreign funders.
It was the opposition of the likes of
Begin, Meridor, Eitan and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin that gave the radical
left the necessary political cover to torpedo previous parliamentary initiatives
to protect Israel’s democratic institutions from their foreign-funded
And the Supreme Court’s success to date in averting any
serious parliamentary or governmental attempts to check its anti-democratic
actions owes in large part to these Likud leaders’ championship of its judicial
usurpation of legislative and governmental power.
It is hard to know what
is driving these men to act as they do. But it is high time that they exercise
some independent judgment and rethink their support for the radical left’s
foreign funded, judicially enabled assault on Israeli
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