January 19: More on NGO funding

There would be an awful amount of squealing if, say, Israel created and funded an NGO charged with attacking, say, Norway.

More on NGO funding
Sir, – In the January 17 issue, your headline brays: “PM’s call to probe both left- and right-wing NGOs ‘a moral failure,’ says Livni.”
I don’t understand how discovering interference by one nation in the affairs of another can be regarded as a “moral failure.”
There would be an awful amount of squealing if, say, Israel created and funded an NGO charged with attacking, say, Norway internally and making efforts internationally to have it boycotted.
Sir, – Legislative investigating committees comprise an integral and important function as they contribute information as to the need for legislation or its change.

Two examples from the US Congress are the Truman Committee, which investigated defense contractors and thus contributed significantly to the war effort, and the Kefauver Committee, which confirmed the existence of organized crime and proposed a means to combat it.
It would behoove those who pontificate for democracy to examine the means by which it is successfully achieved at a national level. The US may not be perfect, but it certainly provides an effective role model.
Sir, – Gerald Steinberg, in “Europe needs a parliamentary inquiry on NGO funding” (Comment & Features, January 10), claimed that the European Union “blatantly violates the basic rules of funding transparency” and talked of “an impenetrable shroud of secrecy” obscuring its funding procedures.
In fact, as Prof. Steinberg is fully aware from the various conversations we have had with him, funding of projects by the European Union worldwide is carried out by open and public calls for proposals published on EU websites, including the website of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel. This is the link to where they are published: http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/ israel/funding_opportunities/ grants/index_en.htm.
The guidelines for project applicants clearly state the aims and objectives of the programs and are open for all to see. After a proposal has been selected it is included in the list of accepted projects, and remains on line throughout the entire length of the project. Here you will find the precise size of the grant, the name of the implementing organization, the duration of the project and a description of the project.
Moreover, all recipients of EU funding are contractually obligated to make publicly known the source of this funding.
A list of projects currently being funded by the European Union in Israel can be found via the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/ israel/projects/list_of_p rojects/projects_en.htm.
This list does not include the hundreds of projects funded in the field of scientific research, which are published separately.
Respect for and promotion of human rights are fundamental values shared by Israel and the European Union. This is enshrined in the Israel-EU Association Agreement that forms the basis of our relations.
Tel Aviv
The writer heads the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel
Honesty, not gentleness
Sir, – Jeff Barak makes a politically correct argument for firing our foreign minister (“Enough is enough,” Reality Check, January 17), but having seen Binyamin Netanyahu up close he must certainly realize that if the prime minister felt Lieberman were a true obstacle to his foreign policy, he wouldn’t hesitate to fire him.
The truth may be that Lieberman represents much more than just Israel Beiteinu’s constituents, and that Netanyahu knows this.
Far from “damaging the very foundations of our democracy,” the foreign minister supports our democratic tradition by reacting to outside elements that take advantage of our democratic laws and, knowingly or unknowingly, damage the very fabric of our state.
Is it wrong to request transparency from NGOs that acquiesce to boycotting the goods of this country, that work with those seeking to bring our boys to trial for defending us, that give foreign powers the ability to besmirch and belittle us? Barak is right, of course: Lieberman is not gentle, and often he is not tactful. But he is honest. And that is a trait that other foreign ministers might well want to take note of – for who would fear WikiLeaks if all the world’s diplomats were like Avigdor Lieberman?


Cause for alarm
Sir, – Barry Rubin, a non-alarmist, alerts us to the latest fatwa issued by Dr. Imad Mustafa of Al-Azhar University, the world’s most important Islamic institution of higher learning (“Revolutions, walk-outs and fatwas,” The Region, January 17).
Under the imprimatur of this supreme religious Islamic authority, the new “offensive jihad fatwa” introduces a most extreme element into all of the Muslim world’s international relations. It legitimizes attacks against non-Muslims anywhere for the purpose of extending “God’s religion.” It means that the most radical groups now have mainstream support for their most extreme, aggressive behavior.
Surely, this new fatwa should make Israel and the entire Western world reassess their dealings with the world of Islam and introduce a cautionary note in all their negotiations and relationships.
Petah Tikva
Lax on Wallenberg
Sir, – In regard to the well written article “The highs and lows in the Raoul Wallenberg mystery” (Comment & Features, January 17), I would like to add that somewhere around the globe – and perhaps among the more-than one million Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – there may still be witnesses with factual information on Wallenberg’s whereabouts.
The State of Israel should have an active policy of looking for him, as well as for witnesses. Regretfully, this is not the case.
The writer is founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Citizen Committee

Wrong focus
Sir, – In the January 14 Jerusalem Post there was an article headlined “NGOs call on religious educators to combat human trafficking.” The sub-headline read “25-30% of sextrade customers are religiously observant.”
There was no objective evidence in the article to justify that subheadline, which could just as well have read “70-75% of sex trade customers are not religious Jews” – although I doubt there is any objective evidence for that, either.
How many sex-trade customers are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, etc.? Religious Jews believe that sex trafficking is a heinous sin. Participation in illicit sexual activity is strongly prohibited by the Torah.
To imply that religious educators do not communicate this view to their students is a calumny.
In every society there are deviants, failures and criminals.
Sexual addiction, like all addictions, should receive treatment, which is available in the religious community as well. To highlight the religious community in this area without a shred of evidence and a complete lack of balanced reporting is poor journalism.
The Editor responds: The subheadline should have indicated that NGOs believed these figures to be correct, and that they were not necessarily verifiable.
CORRECTION In the January 18 editorial, “Labor in pieces,” we incorrectly stated that Meretz’s platform advocates replacing a Jewish and democratic state with a “state of all its citizens.” In fact, Meretz continues to support the idea of a Jewish and democratic state.