(April 30, 2018 / JNS)
A new bill aims to cut all governmental cooperation with the New Israel Fund and other foreign bodies in Israel that support organizations funded by foreign governments.
The legislation, proposed by Knesset member Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu), comes days following a campaign conducted by the Zionist organization against the New Israel Fund, in which Im Tirtzu called on the government to cut all ties with the U.S.-based organization.
The New Israel Fund is the largest financer of Israel’s left-wing civil society and funds highly controversial NGOs, including “Breaking the Silence,” “B’Tselem” and “Adalah.” As many organizations funded by the NIF also receive extensive funding from foreign governments, the fund would fall under the law’s purview.
The bill’s explanatory portion states that dozens of organizations and foundations funded by foreign governmental entities are operating in Israel, “some of which represent foreign interests that are inconsistent with Israeli interests.”
These organizations “enjoy cooperation with some of Israel’s public bodies,” the bill further states, “including government ministries, the IDF, and local authorities, despite … that the aim of these organizations are to safeguard foreign interests.”
Today, some government ministries maintain ties with the New Israel Fund and its grantees, including the Ministry of Communications, which funds Israel Social TV that promotes boycotts on Israel, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education.
Recently representatives from the Israel Defense Forces and the Ministry of Justice participated in a seminar run by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which is active in defending terrorists and their families in court. Some NGOs funded by the NIF and foreign government are even eligible for National Service positions, including “B’Tselem” and “Rabbis for Human Rights.”
Forer explained the need to implement this law: “In recent years, there has been increasing involvement of foreign governmental entities that cooperate both with public institutions as well as groups that promote boycotts on Israel. This cooperation, whether visible or hidden, is a danger to Israeli democracy.
“The fact that foreign entities promote their own political interests and the interests of our enemies is a dangerous precedent that we need to halt,” continued Forer. “This law is another milestone in protecting Israel’s democracy and protecting it from the interests of foreign countries.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg welcomed the bill: “In all of the democratic world, only Israel suffers from a phenomenon in which a foreign political organization operates from within as an open and hostile political opposition against the elected government and the military.”
He added that “leading members of the New Israel Fund, for example, clearly stated that the NIF and its organizations represent the opposition in Israel; the same foreign opposition that is working to topple the elected government and change its policy. This is a dangerous phenomenon that exploits Israeli democracy in order to harm it, and needs to be stopped immediately.”