This story, originally published on June 3, 2016, has been re-upped on July 12 due to the passing into law of the NGO bill.
- Israeli NGO law would apply almost solely to human rights organizations
- Bill restricting NGOs' funding of political campaigns passes preliminary Knesset vote
The registrar of non-profit organizations at the Justice Ministry released a detailed list on Thursday of the 27 organizations that would be required, if pending legislation on the subject is passed, to disclose in their official publications that most of their funding comes from foreign governments.
The disclosure of the list comes after Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) had earlier refused to disclose the information to members of the committee.
The bill, which is sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), would also require representatives of the groups affected by the law to wear identifying tags at the Knesset.
Prior to the disclosure of the list, critics of the legislation had said that it targets left-wing organizations. The list disclosed on Thursday indeed shows that almost all of the groups that would be affected, due to their foreign government funding, are left-wing rather than right-wing. The bill has caused considerable consternation among some groups and among European officials who have urged that it be scrapped.
Twenty-five of the 27 groups on the list are either left-wing or have a human rights or social justice agenda. They include B'Tselem; the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel; the Arab Cultural Association; Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality; and Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights. Two other organizations on the list – Midrash Nezer Shlomo and Hesed l’Avraham Netivot-Tov Ayin – are non-profit groups that support religious activities. New Israel Fund President Talia Sasson said about half the groups on the list are supported by her fund.
The list released Thursday includes the names of the organizations, their annual revenues, the sum of the contributions they have received from foreign entities (including institutions abroad that receive government funds and then pass them along) and the percentage of their total annual revenues that these donations constitute. The list includes only organizations that receive more than 50 percent of their funding from foreign governments.
The list was published after five members of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approached Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon on the matter and after Slomiansky had opposed revealing the information to the members of the committee. The five Knesset members, Revital Swid (Zionist Union), Michal Rozin (Meretz), Yael German (Yesh Atid), Osama Saadia (Joint List) and Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union), expressed concern that Slomiansky was trying to conceal the fact that the vast majority of the groups are identified with the left. On Wednesday Miki Rosenthal accused the bill's sponsors of first deciding to wipe out the human rights organizations and then devising a bill targeting them "and only them.”
The legal counsel to the Knesset committee, Sigal Kogot, warned last week that the law as currently worded contained a measure of humiliation of the non-profits. Requiring an individual to wear an identifying tag at the Knesset, she said, stigmatizes the organizational representative and "isn’t something that encourages him to take part in the hearing." Since 2008, when legislation was passed requiring the reporting of donations, she said a disparity has developed in the situation of organizations that receive foreign donations from individuals and those that receive funding from foreign governments. The pending legislation relates only to donations by governments.