On the same day that Likud announced that it would sponsor a bill to crack down on political organizations funded by foreign governments, Labor Chairman Ehud Barak criticized calls to investigate the New Israel Fund, terming them “the local version of McCarthyism.”
Coalition Chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) submitted a bill Monday evening that would call for full transparency of organizations and funds that are supported by foreign governments. The bill was developed following a conference held by Elkin and Public Affairs Minister Michael Eitan during which MKs were told that EU states invest tens of millions of shekels in funding organizations acting with left-wing political agendas. Those same organizations, complained Likud officials, “provided the majority of the information used against Israel in the Goldstone Report.”
The current law only requires transparency of funding for organizations registered as charitable funds, although many organizations currently engaging in politically-motivated activities in Israel are not registered as such. In the explanation to the bill, Elkin and his fellow cosponsors said that even that requirement is easy to bypass by delaying reporting or by transferring the funds through a third party.
Instead, according to sponsors, the new bill “balances between the rights of political organizations in a democratic state to act freely and the right of the Israeli public to know who is funding the advancement of particular political stances.” Hours earlier, the contribution of New Israel Fund-supported organizations to the Goldstone Report remained a hot topic during the weekly faction meetings.
“We adamantly oppose any investigative commission probing the activities of the New Israel Fund,” said Labor Chairman Ehud Barak during his faction’s meeting. “I certainly do not like some of the organizations that enjoy the donations from this fund, but we are all faithful to the rights of all in a democracy and to freedom of expression. We, as a movement or a party, will struggle against any attempt to block that democratic freedom, especially expressions of such that look like the local version of McCarthyism.”
Barak went on to emphasize that the New Israel Fund also “has done many important and good things for the State of Israel.”
Meeting before the full faction meeting, Kadima’s leadership also
discussed the subject. The faction leaders decided that they would not
resubmit MK Otniel Schneller’s request to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin
to establish a parliamentary investigative committee. Instead, decided
Kadima’s leaders, the party would continue to follow the probe into the
subject launched by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
– a committee led by senior Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi.