"It is unacceptable that the State of Israel enables the countries of the world to intervene in its internal affairs freely and declaratively. The legislative bill is not intended to harm social and other non-profit organizations; the bill is intended to prevent the intervention of foreign countries in Israeli politics by means of support of non-profit organizations of a political character, and to put an end to the intervention of foreign parties in the determination of the future and the character of the State of Israel and those living in it."
These are the profound words of explanation that adorn the Burial of Civil Society Legislative Bill, or as it is officially known, "The Non-Profit Organizations Legislative Bill (Amendment forbidding support by foreign political entities of political non-profit organizations in Israel )." The objective is indeed an exalted one, a significant step toward Israel's integration in the region. Egypt, as well, is now conducting intensive investigations of human rights and pro-democracy non-profit organizations, which have received over $40 million from the American administration since the start of the revolution. In Egypt, several non-profits have already been shut down, and prominent public figures have been imprisoned for having received foreign contributions "without approval of the responsible minister."
Interestingly, the Egyptian minister for social solidarity, who is responsible for the non-profit organizations, like MK Robert Ilatov - one of the initiators of the law being submitted to the Knesset - points to the American legislation that supposedly limits foreign contributions. After all, what is accepted practice in the United States is certainly good for democracies-in-the-works like Israel and Egypt. On condition, of course, that America not intervene in their internal affairs.
Herein lies the preposterousness of the legislators' explanatory notes on the law. Because Israel "freely and declaratively" allows the countries of the world to intervene in its internal affairs. The more than $3 billion that Israel receives from the U.S.; the aid that it receives from EU states; the threat of being sued in the International Court of Justice; pressure by the U.S. and the Quartet to advance the peace process; condemnation of the construction of settlements; the U.S. State Department's country reports on human rights practices. All of these constitute direct intervention in the internal affairs of Israel.
No Israeli non-profit causes any country that contributes to it to intervene in the affairs of Israel more than does the government of Israel itself. American students or British consumers do not need Israeli non-profits to encourage them to eject Israeli representatives or boycott Israeli goods; the government of Israel does an outstanding job of this on its own. The U.S. State Department is not a client of Peace Now; people know well enough on their own where every shack is being built in the territories, and if need be the government of Israel declares loud and clear where it intends to build another neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Even more astonishing is the MKs' fear of foreign intervention. After all, it is hard to find a government that shows contempt for the demands of the international community more than does the current Israeli government. From what exactly are Ilatov and the other sponsors of the bill afraid? That Germany or Finland will smuggle a bulldozer through an Israeli non-profit and use it to uproot an illegal outpost? That Peace Now will seize the government with the help of a contribution from Sweden? Or perhaps that activity of the non-profits is liable to bring down the right-wing government? Given the panic in pushing through shameful laws such as these, it might seem that this is the real fear.
So here is another proposal for a law that would require only a slight amendment of the existing wording: "To prevent the intervention of left-wing parties in Israeli politics by means of support for non-profit organizations of a political character, and to put an end to the intervention of these parties in the determination of the future and the character of the State of Israel and those living in it."
The barbed-wire fence now being laid by MKs of the right in order to defend the mistakes of the government is characteristic of fictitious democracies, whose laws define as criminal acts any injury to the good name of the state or the "nation." Turkish criminal law severely punishes anyone who harms the "Turkish nation," as does the Egyptian criminal law, which forbids harming the image of the state. These are the same countries that see nothing wrong with flawed policies, so long as they are not subject to public scrutiny.
"Informers" should be either arrested or killed, depending on the country, or at the least their funding sources should be cut off, as per the humanitarian example set by Israel. In any event, they must be defined as traitors, perhaps even as supporters of terror, and they must be placed outside the fence. Let's start with the non-profits.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: העמותות תחילה – בישראל ומצרים