NGOs in this Report
NGO Monitor, Jul 4 2016
- Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)
- Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)
- Who Profits
- Combatants for Peace
- Machsom Watch
- Social TV
- Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)
- Yesh Din- Volunteers for Human Rights
- Terrestrial Jerusalem
- Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF)
- Nine-Seven-Two (+972) Magazine
- Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR)
- Coalition of Women for Peace
- Emek Shaveh
- Ir Amim
- HaMoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual
- Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
- New Profile
- Baladna Arab Youth Association
- Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF)
Everything you need to know about Israel’s ‘NGO law’
+972 Magazine, Jul 12 2016
Despite international criticism, the Knesset passes legislation to single out left-wing NGOs in Israel. Here is everything you need to know about it. The law singles out NGOs that receive the majority of their funding from foreign state entities, forcing them to prominently declare their foreign funding in any publication or public engagement such as media appearances or events. Contrary to what right-wing politicians claim, the law is not intended to create more transparency, since Israel already has very strict transparency laws and regulations. Furthermore, the vast majority of the organizations in question already list their sources of funding on their own websites and report the information to the government. Of 27 organizations believed to be affected by the law, 25 were found to be left-wing or human rights groups. The intended effect of the NGO Law is to send a dangerous and stifling message to the Israeli public. The message it sends is that the values espoused and advanced by these organizations, like B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and others, do not exist organically in Israel; lawmakers are saying that the values of human rights and opposing the occupation are being imposed on Israel from the outside-in, and only for the malicious purposes. Both EU boxtops and the Obama administration have previously criticized the bill. On Tuesday, the EU blasted the law’s passing, saying it “undermines values of democracy and freedom of speech in Israel,” and called upon Israel to refrain from taking actions that may curtail freedom of expression and association. Here are four must-read pieces on the NGO law from the +972 archives:
- Israel is seeing a worrying resurgence of attempts to curtail and suppress dissent, particularly among anti-occupation and human rights activists. That process, writes Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, is not taking place in a vacuum.
- In February fifty members of the European Parliament send an open letter to their Israeli counterparts urging them to abandon the NGO bill, which singles out European-funded human rights NGOs while not touching right-wing organizations.
- There is nothing particularly new about the wave of attacks against human rights and the anti-occupation Left. There is nothing new about the increasingly hostile political atmosphere. Not at all. And yet something feels far worse, and scarier, this time around.
- The NGO bill is a semi-fascistic law that harms democracy and silences dissent in a way that is reminiscent of Putin’s Russia, writes Meretz Sec-Gen Mossi Raz. Maybe it’s time to talk about what kind of policies Israeli taxpayers are funding.
Israel passes law targeting human rights groups
Charlotte Silver. Electronic Intifada, Jul 12 2016
Israel’s parliament has approved a law that will require more than two dozen Israeli human rights groups to prominently declare that they receive over half their funding from foreign governments. Known as the “transparency bill,” critics say the law is in fact meant to brand human rights groups as illegitimate. After a lengthy debate on Monday night, the law received final approval by 57 to 48 votes. In response, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, issued a timid admonishment, claiming:
Israel enjoys a vibrant democracy, freedom of speech and a diverse civil society. This new legislation risks undermining these values.
In June, the justice ministry released the list of organizations that would be affected by the law. Haaretz reported that 25 of the 27 listed organizations worked on human rights or social justice issues. They include well-known organizations such as B’Tselem, Who Profits, Breaking the Silence and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. By applying only to NGOs funded by foreign governments, the law shields right-wing and settlement groups in Israel that are lavishly funded by wealthy individuals and private groups from abroad. For instance, a Haaretz investigation found that Pindosi private donors funneled $220m worth of tax-deductible donations to West Bank settlements between 2009 and 2013. A recent lawsuit filed in Pindosi alleges that a coterie of wealthy Pindosis, including Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, the recently deceased bingo king Irving Moskowitz and Oracle founder Lawrence Ellison, have sent $1b to fund the Israeli occupation, with $104m going to the Israeli army in 2014. After the law passed, Netanyahu said:
[This will help] prevent an absurd situation, in which foreign states meddle in Israel’s internal affairs by funding NGOs without the Israeli public being aware of it.
Public records of Netanyahu’s last three election campaigns show that 90% of his contributions came from Pindostan, of which half was given by just three families. Adalah, the Palestinian legal rights group based in Haifa, said:
[This law is] a grotesque game … intended to persecute and incite against human rights organizations, a practice which is characteristic of dark regimes both past and present.
Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked, who sponsored the bill last November, has stated that she does not believe that foreign governments should fund any political NGOs in Israel. The law requires groups to report their source of funding to Israel’s registrar for non-profits, publish the information on their websites, and state it in official documents, including letters to government officials. Initial versions had required that representatives of the targeted organizations wear special tags when speaking at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Israeli NGOs are already required to report their sources of income to the registrar’s office, which makes the information publicly available. Adalah said:
It is therefore clear that the purpose of the law is to mark human rights groups that offer alternative positions and critique government policy.
UN human rights experts have expressed concern that the law will chill speech of human rights group in Israel by subjecting them to unique penalties and requirements. Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint Arab List, told The Guardian:
[This law aims to] intimidate and wipe away the few organizations that act and fight in the public sphere for equality to the Arab public.
Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog denounced the law, telling reporters:
[This law is] indicative, more than anything, of the budding fascism creeping into Israeli society.
The law will go into effect on the first day of next year.