The West Bank Settlement of Givat Ze'ev.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The sources of some 95 percent funding for right-wing charities over the past decade were hidden from the public, according to a Peace Now report.
The origin of NIS 567.7 million was hidden from the public amount, the report estimates.
The left-wing NGO checked the transparency of right-wing nonprofits over the course of that period and was able to identify the sources of only 4.6% of their funding.
Another 8.4% of the money was what the NGO called “allegedly transparent,” donated under the name of another organization, though in practice it was impossible to know its actual source.
“What is happening on the right side of the map with regards to transparency and exposing sources of foreign funding is absolute lawlessness.
Hundreds of millions of shekels are flowing into Israel from anonymous sources, and no one has any way of knowing the source of the money,” said Yariv Oppenheimer, head of Peace Now.
The study looked into a number of leading right-leaning NGOs including NGO Monitor, Im Tirzu, Regavim, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Mida, Ir David Foundation (Elad), Binyamin Settlers’ Association, Shomron Settlers Committee, and the Institute for Zionist Strategies.
The report also found that some NIS 100m. of public funds was transferred to NGOs through municipalities.
According to Peace Now, this money was transferred via the “participation method,” which sees public funds transferred to municipalities and in turn to various NGOs.
“Even hundreds of millions of shekels that the government takes from the citizens of Israel and transfers to right-wing NGOs are not transparent, and it is impossible to know precisely in realtime how much public money goes to the settlements,” said Oppenheimer.
“Instead of putting a stop to the ‘celebration’ and enacting laws requiring transparency of everyone, the government is promoting selective laws that will apply in practice only to organizations opposing the government and whose contributions from abroad are already exposed and transparent,” he said.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, responded to the report.
“We welcome Peace Now’s very belated agreement that full transparency is necessary for all foreign funding of political NGOs, regardless of ideology. Unfortunately, PN’s report exploits this core democratic issue that impacts on Israel more than in any other country, to attack ‘enemies real and imagined,” Steinberg said.
“After years of complaining that transparency legislation and research are ‘McCarthyite’ and ‘fascist,’ political NGOs affiliated with the New Israel Fund, including Peace Now, have recognized the importance of funding transparency and accountability for what are ostensibly nongovernment organizations, but [which] receive much of their money from governments,” he said.
He added: “NGO Monitor is a non-ideological research institute, receives all funding from private – not government – donors, is fully transparent, and fully complies with all relevant Israeli regulations.”
According to NGO Monitor, government funding for NGOs is entirely different than private funding, whether from individuals or philanthropies.
States exercise sovereign power on an exclusive basis, and state interference or manipulation of civil society organizations in other countries violates that sovereignty. In addition, while private individuals and funds distribute their money as an expression of free choice, governments do not consult their citizens before deciding on grants to selected foreign NGOs.
Another essential difference, according to NGO Monitor, is that many European governments, including those providing Peace Now with almost half of its budget, fail to practice transparency on these issues. They reject Freedom of Information requests, their reporting is years late or nonexistent in some cases, and the decision-making processes remain highly guarded secrets. In contrast, private donors generally report their contributions in detail to tax authorities in order to receive tax deductions.