State body wants to fund pro-Israel advocacy abroad
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State body wants to fund pro-Israel advocacy abroad

Strategic Affairs Ministry to unveil new program offering money for pro-Israel events and online efforts against boycott activists

Pro-Israel supporters protesting outside the Irish parliament January 24, 2019, in opposition to a private member's bill that would criminalize the import and sale of settlement goods to Ireland. (Twitter)
Pro-Israel supporters protesting outside the Irish parliament January 24, 2019, in opposition to a private member's bill that would criminalize the import and sale of settlement goods to Ireland. (Twitter)

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry plans to announce a new initiative that would see the government funding pro-Israel events overseas.

The plan is set to be unveiled on May 17, according to the Ynet news site, and will help support activists battling the boycott movement against Israel.

“I’m proud to launch the first [government] program to support pro-Israel organizations and activists around the world,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is also the public security minister, said in a statement.

The plan will “encourage grassroots events and online initiatives against the BDS [boycott] movement and in support of Israel. I’m certain that this program will give a significant boost to all our supporters around the world who are battling this anti-Semitism and the boycott activists,” he said.

Palestinian and left-wing Jewish groups stage a rally walking from Times Square to the United Nations building in New York, September 15, 2011, calling to end all US aid to Israel and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. (AP Photo/David Karp)

A great deal remains unclear about the plan, from its apparently small budget to its legal standing.

According to Ynet, some NIS 3 million ($840,000) will be budgeted to support pro-Israel events, while another NIS 2.7 million ($760,000) will go to efforts to create online campaigns battling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The program also raises legal questions. For example, many of the advocacy organizations that may be a good fit for support from the initiative are registered nonprofits in the United States and other Western nations, thus facing tight restrictions on receiving funds from foreign states.

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrators at an Apartheid Week event at the University of California, Berkeley, in February 2012 (photo credit: CC-BY James Buck, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of pro-Palestinian demonstrators facing pro-Israel demonstrators at an Israel Apartheid Week event at the University of California, Berkeley, in February 2012. (CC-BY/James Buck/Flickr)

The Strategic Affairs Ministry said it is working with the finance and justice ministries to overcome these and other legal obstacles.

The funds will be distributed based on applications from pro-Israel activists around the world. To encourage submissions, the ministry plans to advertise the initiative in a number of countries, including the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Germany, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

The initiative also includes a second, indirect support effort that would see state funding for Israel-based advocacy groups who support the work of pro-Israel organizations abroad.

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