Israel's New 'Soros Bill' Aims to Stop Funds From 'anti-Semitic' Donors

Associates of Netanyahu couldn’t say whether the prime minister would support the proposed law in the Knesset, and its exact wording has yet to be disclosed

FILE PHOTO: Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016.
Luke MacGregor/REUTERS

MK Miki Zohar (Likud) announced on Monday that he planned to submit a bill that would make it harder for leftist organizations to receive funding from organizations considered hostile to Israel.

He said the bill, named for mogul George Soros, won the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Associates of Netanyahu couldn’t say on Monday whether the prime minister would support the proposed law in the Knesset. Its exact wording has yet to be disclosed.

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Zohar said the bill would prevent “donors who are anti-Semites, inciters or hostile to Israel” from donating to Israeli organizations. Zohar said he was aiming at donors like Soros who donate to organizations like Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, B’tselem, Breaking the Silence, Ir Amim, Machsom Watch, Yesh Din and the New Israel Fund, which he said were all anti-Zionist.

He said such donors should be considered anti-Semitic, inflammatory and hostile, and donations from them to non-profits or Israeli corporations should be forbidden. According to the bill, the Strategic Affairs Ministry will compile and periodically update a list of bodies and organizations that are hostile to Israel or are defined as anti-Semitic.

“Netanyahu asked me to present him the bill and told me he would support it,” Zohar said.

It is too early to tell what chances the bill has of passing and whether the coalition will support it. Either way, it is yet another attempt by coalition members to stifle civil society organizations identified with the left.

Currently, Minister Yariv Levin is in the early stages of formulating a new NGO bill at the request of the prime minister. Coalition members asserted that one of the new bill’s goals would be to close NGOs like Breaking the Silence, probably on the basis of a clause forbidding groups that act to get soldiers tried abroad. It is unclear if there is a legal basis for approving such a bill.

Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry is completing its preparations to implement the NGO bill passed a year ago that will require NGOs that receive the bulk of their funding from foreign countries to report their donors to the Registrar of Associations and on their official forms. Data presented to the Knesset showed that the overwhelming majority of associations that receive most of their funding from foreign countries are NGOs identified with the left.