Another Indecent Proposal Against Israeli NGOs

Like the NGO law, its sequel proposal lacks practical content, consisting mainly of attempts to delegitimize civil society organizations.

Breaking the Silence activists hold signs saying 'this is what the occupation looks like'  at a rally against incitement, Tel Aviv, December 2015.
Moti Milrod

After the disgraceful “NGO law,” whose entire purpose was to shame and incite against human-rights groups and organizations identified with the left, a new proposal reeking of fascism comes from the right’s benches.

The bill, again backed by the far-right Im Tirtzu movement, is a sequel to the attempt to corrupt the Israeli Law Book.

MK Amir Ohana (Likud), who recently made headlines by taking parliamentary action against some IDF soldiers’ awful crime – they had volunteered to play with asylum-seekers’ children – submitted a bill aimed at denying national service positions from NGOs whose main funding comes from foreign states.

This bill too is destined to apply mainly to leftist and human-rights NGOs in a similar way as the NGO law, which passed in the Knesset in July, and will apply to 27 NGOs, 25 of them human-rights groups. Like the NGO law, the sequel proposal lacks practical content, consisting mainly of attempts to delegitimize civil society organizations.

The number of positions that will be affected by such a law is not expected to be significant. According to various figures, only a few positions are earmarked today to the NGOs in question – one volunteer for organizations like B’Tselem and Gisha, and up to four volunteers for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.

The significant part of the bill is the tone of ongoing incitement against those NGOs, which Ohana corroborates in his explanation for the proposal: “Something is damaged in Israel’s immune system. It’s unthinkable that we ourselves provide subsidized workers for organizations acting in foreign states’ interests, portray Israel as a war criminal, protect the biggest terrorists and slander IDF soldiers who protect us night and day.”

This rhetoric, which sees human-rights activists as enemies or people whose activity is an assault on the state, is reminiscent of regimes that Israel must not resemble. In these regimes the messenger who warns of flaws caused by the government and tries to fix them becomes the enemy, or even bacteria or a virus – in Ohana’s reference frame – against whom the public must be incited.

This is the right’s way, especially in encouraging movements like Im Tirtzu, whose campaign branding Israel’s most prominent artists “left-wing moles” was denounced by many even in the ideological right.

This language is not only dangerous, but is based on a blatant deception. The human-rights organizations are among Israel’s major assets, the gatekeepers of democracy, social solidarity and the country’s pretty face in the world. Thanks to these organizations the world groups Israel with the advanced, properly run states in the family of nations. This bill ought to be struck down immediately.