Likud MK Akunis: Every Word Senator Joseph McCarthy Said Was Right

Ofir Akunis, who sponsored the bill to limit foreign funding to human rights groups, says he only meant Senator McCarthy was proven right by exposing Soviet agents in the U.S., but adds he strongly opposes McCarthyism.

Likud MK Ofir Akunis, who sponsored the bill to limit foreign funding to Israeli human rights organization, stood behind Senator Joseph's McCarthy's actions in the 1950s. Speaking on Sunday on the "London and Kirshenbaum" television show on Channel 10, Akunis said McCarthy – who in the 1950s presided over a committee that investigated Americans suspected of harboring Communist views – said "was right in every word, the fact is -there were Soviet agents."

According to the bill, which was proposed by Akunis and has been backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, political NGOs in Israel would not be allowed to receive donations exceeding 20,000 shekels provided by foreign governments and international organizations, such as the UN and the European Union. According to the bill, "inciting activity undertaken by many organizations, under the cover of human rights work, has the goal of influencing political debates, and the character and the policies of the state of Israel."

Moshe Kahlon and Ofir Akunis (Emil Salman)
Emil Salman

Speaking to Haaretz later on Sunday, Akunis said he was referring to McCarthy's claim that several Soviet agents infiltrated the U.S. "I didn't say McCarthyism was right, or that every word that McCarthy said was right." He added that he does not support McCarthyism or political persecution of citizens suspected of being disloyal to the state. "God forbid, absolutely not," he said.

"I am far less extreme than what some columns say, and I am not part of the legislation against the judiciary. I have one law that is right and just, that says that a foreign country will not transfer money to another country." Akunis said the bill "is far from being fascist or ant-democratic. It is also not a law that targets the freedom of assembly."

Akunis referred to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's criticism of the bill, which she voiced on Saturday, and said that "the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the U.S. is much harsher than the (current) bill, especially in light of the amended bill which clearly defines what constitutes a political organization."