Less than a week after the Knesset voted 41 to 16 to establish a parliamentary committee of inquiry to probe foreign funding of left-wing NGOs, the Im Tirtzu student group released a study on Tuesday saying such organizations receive funding from hostile Arab states, and are instructed by donors to work to delegitimize Israel.
The main findings of the 40- page PowerPoint presentation from Im Tirtzu – The Second Zionist Revolution, titled “Radical Left Supported by Terrorism,” read: “Funds received from Arab countries and foundations are given to Israeli organizations, with the goal of influencing the public discourse in Israel and the world.”
These Israeli organizations are involved in “delegitimization of the State of Israel, calls to boycott Israel, supporting moves to try Israeli leaders for war crimes,” according to the presentation.
Such groups also encourage Palestinian national identification among Arab citizens of Israel and to “strengthen the grip of Islamic Palestinian identity in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, the Negev and the Galilee,” the report said.
Im Tirtzu said the study, which focuses on two Palestinian organizations, the Ramallah- based NGO Development Center (NDC) and the Jerusalem-based Welfare Association, showed the urgent need for a commission of inquiry into the funding of left-wing organizations. The report says that the two groups’ budgets come not only from the EU and governments of countries in Western Europe that have diplomatic ties with Israel, but also from Arab states such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Im Tirtzu also says that the Islamic Development Bank, located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Arab foundations send money to the two organizations, 97 percent of which goes to Palestinians in the territories and 3% of which goes to left-wing organizations in Israel.
According to the study, after the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, the Islamic Development Bank set up two funds, the Al-Aqsa Fund and the Al-Quds Intifada Fund, to help Palestinians “in the face of continued Israeli aggression.”
Both funds gave money to the families of Palestinian “martyrs.”
Im Tirtzu issued a statement to accompany the release of the report.
“This is a sad day for the democratic State of Israel. The fact that organizations of such importance to the Israeli public, which are supposed to work for the sake of human rights, have instead become organizations that are working for hostile countries and foreign foundations, has left a moral stain upon these groups and on our society, which does not know how to establish red lines,” it read.
The organization called for “all Zionist members of the Knesset” to lay their disagreements aside and come together to “defend IDF soldiers and Israeli democracy from the crude interference of hostile groups through the use of Israeli organizations.”
One of the organizations mentioned in the report, B’Tselem – The Israeli
Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, issued
a statement on Tuesday saying that “contrary to Im Tirzu’s latest
fabrication, B’Tselem receives money only from friendly governments, who
themselves respect human rights. The funding transferred to B’Tselem
through NDC comes from four countries: Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark
and Switzerland, in full accordance with the law, and is transparent and
reported to the NGO Registrar. Im Tirzu is welcome to submit a
complaint to the police if they think otherwise. Their failure to have
done so is the best testament to the false nature of their claims.”
Libby Lenkinski, director of international relations for the Association
for Civil Rights in Israel, said on Tuesday, “As we’ve said over and
over again, our funding is totally transparent and the organization in
question [the NDC] also practices transparency.”
Lenkinski added that all of the funds that Israeli human rights
organizations receive from the NDC come from countries with friendly
relations with Israel, such as Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
She referred to the Im Tirtzu report as a PowerPoint presentation “whose
level of research was so low that they didn’t even get the name of the
organization right, referring to the NDC as the National Development
While the presentation does refer to the organization as the NGO
Development Center, a statement on the Im Tirtzu website reads that the
“research study reveals a direct connection between the NDC (National
Development Center), which is located in Ramallah and funnels money to a
large number of left-wing organizations in Israel, and the Welfare
Association (whose financial donors include Arab states and even
organizations whose goals are to support and fund families of martyrs)”.
The entry goes on to say that the report examined the years 2008-2009
and found the NDC was a central supporter of Israeli NGOs during those
years, sending a total of $2 million to 13 Israeli organizations.
The largest recipients, according to Im Tirtzu, were “Hamoked: The
Center for the Defense of the Individual,” which received $450,000, and
B’Tselem, which received $400,000.
Im Tirtzu states that the NDC’s “seemingly innocent” funding, is
actually done in collaboration with a number of Arab foundations,
including some that make “supporting the resistance against human rights
violations of the Israel Occupation Army and the pursuit of legal
charges against such violations a prerequisite for receiving funds.”
Another left-wing organization cited in the report, Yesh Din –
Volunteers for Human Rights, issued a response on Tuesday that read, “In
contrast to the claims put forth by Im Tirtzu, the NDC operates as a
channel for donations to Yesh Din given by the governments of
Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Sweden. Yesh Din operates with
complete transparency: All of our donors’ names appear on our website,
and Yesh Din adheres to all legal requirements for reporting on
donations that fund our operations to defend human rights, and every
year we receive proper-management- approval status from the nonprofits
authority and the Justice Ministry.”