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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Fascinating Wikileaks cable on Israel's NGO law

Remember the NGO law, which finally passed in a watered down version? Well, Wikileaks released a cable from February 2010, which provides some fascinating insights from both sides to the issue. The cable is based upon an earlier version of the bill.
4. (C) NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg, a conservative professor of political science at Bar Ilan University who initiated the push for this legislation during a December Knesset conference that was boycotted by most NGOs, told PolOff on February 24 that the legislation aimed to replicate the U.S. Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). He described the human rights NGOs in Israel as having become thoroughly discredited in the eyes of most Israelis because their activities were political in nature, and not truly concerned with human rights. He decried what he termed the NGOs' overblown allegations of war crimes at every turn and specifically cited B'Tselem's refusal to recognize even simple facts contrary to its political agenda; B'Tselem's counting of Hamas operatives as among the civilian dead during Operation Cast Lead just because they wore civilian clothes was one egregious example. Steinberg described such NGOs as being dedicated to ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank with no regard for what would happen afterwards, as though the solution was really that simple and there were no consequences from Israel's 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

¶5. (C) Steinberg said the legislation was aimed to "send a signal" that Israeli human rights NGOs' activities were in fact "political warfare" that had consequences for Israel internationally, with the Goldstone Report being a predictable culmination. He rejected the idea that the legislation would curb freedom of speech as he maintained that left-wing NGOs had long monopolized the public space, accrued much soft-power internationally, and needed to be opposed by increasing transparency. He saw these NGOs as playing a crucial role in a vicious cycle whereby foreign (mostly European) governments funded actions that manipulated domestic politics, undermined Israel's international legitimacy, and falsely legitimized such anti-Israel actions as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Steinberg is currently suing the European Union for violating Freedom of Information laws for funding Israeli NGOs secretly and estimated that the EU provides almost 10 million dollars in funding to Israeli NGOs per year and that individual European states' funding, particularly Britain, France, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland, brought the total to tens of millions of dollars.

¶6. (C) B'Tselem Director Jessica Montell, who estimated her 9 million NIS ($2.4 million) budget is 95 percent funded from abroad, mostly from European countries, told PolOff on February 10 that she did not believe the legislation would pass in its current form. ACRI's International Communication and Development Coordinator, Melanie Takefman, also told PolOff on February 10 that she believed the troublesome legislation would be amended and that the NGOs would likely be able to influence the draft legislation so that it would achieve its goal of greater transparency without restricting the NGOs' ability to operate. Both denied any need for greater transparency, but said they would welcome it if it applied equally to all NGOs, including NGO-Monitor and especially Jewish settler organizations.

¶7. (C) New Israel Fund (NIF) Associate Director in Israel Hedva Radovanitz, who manages grants to 350 NGOs totaling about 18 million dollars per year, told PolOff on February 23 that the campaign against the NGOs was due to the "disappearance of the political left wing" in Israel and the lack of domestic constituency for the NGOs. She noted that when she headed ACRI's Tel Aviv office, ACRI had 5,000 members, while today it has less than 800, and it was only able to muster about 5,000 people to its December human rights march by relying on the active staff of the 120 NGOs that participated. Radovanitz commented that the NIF was working behind the scenes through many NGOs to prevent the NGO legislation from passing in its current form. She commented that she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic. She also said the NIF was currently re-evaluating its strategy and was hoping to create a movement rather than just a lot of NGOs. She said the NIF had no plans to build a human rights constituency within the right wing of Israeli society, though she believed politics had shifted to the right for the foreseeable future.
That seems pretty damning to me. Peace Now admits that 95% of its funding comes from abroad? NIF says ACRI membership has dropped from 5,000 to 800 and that they have to take money from abroad because they have no domestic constituency? Can you conceive of any other country in the world where other countries would be interested in funding political activity that most of the local population abhors - or with which it at least disagrees?

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At 8:27 PM, Blogger Dan Kelso said...

Naomi Chazen = big time Kapo.
It should be noted about Peace Now in Israel and the U.S, when Sharon had Yassin the mass murderer killed in 04.
Peace now held a rally for Yassin.
This shows what sickos Peace now is.
They hold rallies for Arab terrorists who order thousands of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
By the way, since the Islamo Nazi Yassin was killed, terrorism is down 90% in Israel.

The Peace Now circular e-mail announcing the demonstration reads, in part:

"The assassination of Sheikh Yasin is a strategic blunder and a prize for Hamas. It will fan the fires of extremism and terror, endangering still more Israeli lives. If the idea was to destroy the Palestine Authority and any chance for negotiations, and peace, Sharon has become an expert. "

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can think of at least one other country that would and does. The USA.


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