Who Needs Israel's Futile, Unnecessary NGO Bill?

There is already a law that requires registered nonprofit associations to report their sources of income and the state has the tools to collect the information it needs.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset, January 19, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset, January 19, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

The NGO transparency bill being promoted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not forbid groups from taking money from foreign governments. As such, the bill is futile, unnecessary and merely provokes fights. There is already a law that requires registered nonprofit associations to report their sources of income and their expenditures to the registrar of nonprofit associations. This information is public. If a group fails to properly register or report, the state has the tools to collect the information it needs. Who needs this new bill?

Its not clear why Netanyahu is insisting on trying to pass this bill, which forces him into a political and public relations corner, as if we dont have enough problems on the international scene. Perhaps it would be worthwhile if the law would really restrict those countries funding Israeli groups that seek to slander Israel abroad, deepen rifts in Israeli society and bring down the elected government.

To do this, all you have to do is pass a law forbidding nonprofits from accepting money from foreign governments. Or Netanyahu could approach his counterparts, the prime ministers of the nations financing these Israeli NGOs, and demand that they stop funding anti-government meddling and put an end to interfering in Israels internal affairs.

Since the Party Funding Law does not allow left-wing parties and the Joint List of Arab parties, the darlings of the donor governments, to take money directly, these countries are funding the parties – that is, their policies – through their overt and covert affiliates, the subversive NGOs. Thats how, under the banner of human rights activism, these NGOs work to malign the Israel Defense Forces, torpedo Israels hold on Judea and Samaria, promote the establishment of a Palestinian state and change Israels political structure. These groups also exploit the Israeli justice system to tie the hands of the defense establishment and stop settlement activity.

One could just imagine what would happen if Israel would support similar subversive organizations in Britain, Norway, Denmark or the Netherlands (to name just a few of the donor countries). These governments, in contrast to Israels submissive regime that ignores the harm to its dignity and sovereignty, would respond strongly and decisively. If Israel would be taking advantage of their legal and legislative systems to promote its own interests via legislation, or to change those countries political structure and bring down prime ministers it didnt like, one could assume that results would be conclusive – the severing of diplomatic ties and the imprisoning of Israels agents for insurrection.

Israels media would surely publish articles by those who oppose Israels NGO bill (i.e., who support foreign intervention here) condemning Israels intervention in the internal matters of other countries. Learned jurists would state that such actions are subversive, illegal, unfair, violate international procedural and diplomatic codes and damage Israels image and status among its best friends.

If Israel had a Supreme Court that defended its honor and the honor of the state whose values it is responsible for, all these legislative initiatives could be avoided. The High Court of Justice could rule that organizations funded by foreign governments and foreign interests cannot file petitions to the court. There are many people in Israel dreaming of the day when the High Court will find its backbone and stop being a willing pawn operated by remote control. Only then will we truly be able to say, There are judges in Jerusalem.

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