NGO bill’s hit list: 23 out of the 25 organizations are left-wing
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NGO bill’s hit list: 23 out of the 25 organizations are left-wing

No right-wing groups on list of organizations receiving foreign state funding, which does include B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din

Palestinian volunteers with the B'Tselem human rights organization learn how to use video cameras to document the actions of the IDF and Israeli settlers in the West Bank, in 2014. (B'Tselem/CC BY 4.0)
Palestinian volunteers with the B'Tselem human rights organization learn how to use video cameras to document the actions of the IDF and Israeli settlers in the West Bank, in 2014. (B'Tselem/CC BY 4.0)

Out of 25 non-governmental organizations currently targeted by the so-called NGO bill making its way through the legislation process, 23 of them are left-wing organizations and two are non-affiliated.

The list includes prominent human rights groups such us B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Ir Amim, Yesh Din, and the Public Committee Against Torture. No right-wing groups are included in the list.

According to the bill, sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and which has already passed its first reading, any NGO receiving over 50 percent of its funding from a foreign government must include details of its funding in all official and promotional documents, including online. The legislation also demands that members of such groups wear tags identifying themselves when inside the Knesset.

Critics say the bill singles out left-wing groups, as right-wing organizations are primarily funded by private donors, and is a veiled effort to silence organizations that are often critical of Israeli government policy. The release of the list, on which 92 percent are left-wing NGOs, contributes to that suspicion.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked attends the weekly Jewish Home party meeting at the Knesset on March 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked attends the weekly Jewish Home party meeting at the Knesset on March 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But proponents of the bill say it merely improves transparency, and that while forcing the organizations to disclose their funding, it does not restrict their activities.

A recent report by the legal adviser to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee criticized key aspects of the bill, warning that they have a direct impact on just one side of the political map.

The head of the Constitution Law and Justice Committee, MK Nissan Slomiansky of the right-wing Jewish Home party, said in response that the bill was sound, and nonetheless would pass in the Knesset.

The legislation, which has also been criticized by European and American officials, passed in its first reading in February.

MK Miki Rosenthal of the Zionist Union party said Thursday that the list “exposes the ugly hypocrisy of those advancing the bill.”

“First they set a target — the destruction of the human rights organizations,” said Rosenthal adding that the legislation was drafted specifically with those left-wing NGOs — “and those only” — in mind.

“With the advancement of this bill, the Israeli government is declaring that human rights are a detestable value from its point of view,” he added.

Talia Sasson (photo credit: CC-BY-ND Ralph Alswang/Flickr)
Talia Sasson (photo credit: CC-BY-ND Ralph Alswang/Flickr)

The president of the New Israel Fund, advocate Talia Sasson, said that the bill was “harmful and [while] it is meant to hypothetically advance transparency, actually does the opposite – delegitimizes left-wing groups.”

Meretz leader Zehava Galon said Wednesday that the bill was just another “tool for political persecution and the silencing of critics.”

 

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