Lapid's Trip to Spain Sponsored by Group That Attacks Israeli Human Rights Organizations

NGO Monitor lobbies to have Western states stop funding Palestinian civil society groups and leftist NGOs in Israel. Yair Lapid will address Spanish parliament, present monitor's report

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid.
Olivier Fitoussi

Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid is leaving for Madrid on Wednesday on a visit funded by the right-wing group NGO Monitor.

In the Spanish capital, Lapid will present a report by NGO Monitor to parliament and journalists stating that the Spanish government gives money to Spanish and Palestinian civil society groups that promote boycotts of Israel, incite terrorism against Israel and use anti-Semitic rhetoric.

NGO Monitor works to stop contributions by Western countries to Palestinian civil society groups as well as to Israeli human rights groups and leftist NGOs.

The report by NGO Monitor’s research institute was written in cooperation with the pro-Israel Spanish organization ACOM, which otherwise is not politically aligned.

Officials at NGO Monitor said the group had recently sent the report to Knesset members from both the governing coalition and the opposition, and to members of the Spanish parliament. According to these officials, Lapid expressed an interest in the report and proposed working with Spanish legislators to stop the Spanish government’s funding for groups trying to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

NGO Monitor said it was funding Lapid’s trip, which had been approved by the Knesset Ethics Committee. Lapid will also meet with Spain’s deputy foreign minister, Jewish community leaders and the media.

NGO Monitor’s head, Gerald Steinberg, has maintained close ties to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry in recent years, and Steinberg said he served as a consultant to the two ministries in some cases.

One of the main targets of the organization’s activities has been the New Israel Fund, which contributes to dozens of human rights groups and left-wing NGOs in Israel. Other organizations criticized by NGO Monitor in the context of donations from foreign governments are Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Machsom Watch, Yesh Din and many others.

NGO Monitor does not support legislation against left-wing NGOs and prefers to use diplomacy to pressure governments and legislators in Western countries to stop contributions to foreign, Palestinian and Israeli civil society groups that NGO Monitor says promote boycotts and the delegitimization of Israel.

In recent years, NGO Monitor has been active in Britain, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark.

This is not Lapid’s first collaboration with right-wing groups against Israeli human rights groups and leftist NGOs. Over the past two years he has cooperated with the right-wing groups Reservists at the Front and My Truth against the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence.

Lapid has also spoken out harshly on several occasions against B’Tselem and other rights groups, accusing them of sullying the name of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.