(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Dr. Robert Kaplan and retired historian and Jan Sokolovsky a semi-retired lawyer are keen for Israel to enact legislation similar to that of the American Foreign Agents Registration Act. Kaplan, the founder of the Quest Organization which is researching the extent of gifting by foreign governments to Israeli NGOs and to Israeli government officials and politicians voiced concern at a meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday night that such gifts might in the final analysis unduly influence Israeli policy and political decisions.
His research has shown that at least thirty Israeli organizations and institutions receive funding from German foundations some of which are closely affiliated with the German government.
His research has also indicated that a certain international philanthropist who is a strong supporter of America’s Democratic Party and various left leaning organizations is a German agent.
Kaplan actually named this individual. Without proof positive and in respect to libel laws, The Jerusalem Post has opted to refrain from publishing the name of this global personality.
Kaplan cited a string of connections uncovered in his research which points to one person who during the George W. Bush era, followed a strong anti-Bush line and through various German publications and their American subsidiaries did almost everything possible to blacken Bush’s reputation.
Fearful that similar influence could permeate Israel, Kaplan would like to see a law that forces all recipients of foreign aid to declare from whom they receive funding, how much they receive and how this sum relates to their budget.
In a survey that he conducted, he found that scientific, medical and other academic institutions had no qualms about sharing such information but organizations influencing political thinking, either refused to participate, stated that they did not accept foreign donations or gave only partial answers to his questions.
Both he and Sokolovsky made it clear that they did not want to limit freedom of speech for organizations or individuals who may be foreign agents. They simply wanted them to register so that the government will know who they are..
Sokolovsky began working with certain Members of Knesset as far back as 2006 after she noticed the proliferation of NGO cases that came before the High Court of Justice. When she looked into the matter, she saw that many of these NGOs were supported by agents of foreign government.
So together with members of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, she drafted a law similar to that of the US, but it kept getting weaker and weaker she said and by the time it was passed, all it required was disclosure with no sanctions whatsoever.
She started the process again a few months ago in the hope of getting a law similar to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Sokolovsky clarified that she does not want to limit contributions by individuals, but said that the State must be made aware of contributions by foreign governments.
While it is widely known that German Foundations and the European Union provide considerable funding for Israeli projects, institutions and organizations, it is not so widely known said Sokolovsky that Finland is also a big player.