Erdogan, Mubarak: Our Role Models

Proposed bill encumbering the activity of politically antagonistic NGOs is perfectly in line with the regional trend of nationalist paranoia.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

Back in June, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park on “dark alliances” and “international organizations.” He denounced those same bodies on Saturday for entangling Turkey in its latest corruption scandal.

The prime minister has no doubts that even the United States is interfering in Turkey’s internal affairs. Bashar Assad also blamed “international organizations” and other foreign bodies at the start of the Syrian uprising for inciting the rebellion, and Hosni Mubarak before his fall pointed a finger at “foreign countries and organizations” as responsible for the mass protests against him.

Every Middle East leader at some stage has confronted human rights organizations and blamed them for acting under orders from external forces with “anti-national” interests. Every state in the region fights in its own way against these organizations, be it via draconian law forbidding the acceptance of foreign donations without governmental approval, as in Egypt, or by denying tax exemptions to organizations that do not obtain government approval as “organizations for the public,” as in Turkey.

Israel is joyfully joining its neighbors. Like in Turkey, where the law forbids establishing an NGO whose principles clash with “the state’s characteristics as determined by the constitution” or “national interests or national unity,” NGOs that call for a boycott of Israel or for bringing soldiers to justice in international courts are doomed to economic strangulation. The MKs who initiated the law - Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) - do not hide their goal: The law will prevent foreign meddling and protect Israeli democracy. Erdogan and Mubarak could not have phrased it better.

The encouraging news is that representatives of the nationalist right are making such an effort to integrate into the region. At this rate they could end up calling for a military coup, of course to protect democracy, because what is good for Egypt is good for Israel.

This moving claim is truly the kind that seeks to put a brake on foreign interference in Israel’s internal affairs. But why stop there? A proud, nationalistic country that is sure of its righteousness can’t fulfill its obligation just by hurting the peons serving foreign masters. Why not immediately declare a war against the power that over and over interferes in Israel’s internal affairs? It’s the one that contributes some $3 billion to the state and tries to use this money as leverage for changing Israel’s policies.

This aid dwarfs the entire sum of contributions these NGOs receive. Why not boycott this aid, which is incomparable in the degree it interferes in Israel’s national interests? Why do we need to ingratiate ourselves to the European Union so that it will include Israel in the Horizon 2020 plan? Is it not the same EU that contributes to the deviant NGOs, and the same EU that itself sanctions Israeli commerce from the territories? The principle of equality demands that every institution that receives a donation from the EU, be it a “hostile NGO’ or a university, will pay a tax rate of 45 percent.

However, one nagging thought won’t let go. How could it be that powerful countries like the United States, which assisted Israel with more than $233 billion since its founding, as well as the EU countries, failed to bend Israel’s policy? Not one settlement was evacuated, no negotiated deal was signed, not one anti-democratic law was eliminated despite the flow of dirty funds to the leftist associations, and the right rules unhindered.

Those NGOs must surely have some hidden, secret threat so terrible that all of Israel’s defense was called to rally around the flag.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban review the troops before a meeting in Ankara, on December 18, 2013.Credit: AFP

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