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Likud proposes to create a Parliamentary Commission about funding of NGO’s.

I recently attended a debate organized by “Shalom Arshav” at Tel Aviv University between Yariv Oppenheimer,  General Secretary of Shalom Arshav, and Dany Danon, member of the Knesset and Chairman of World Likud. The debate aimed to discuss the issue raised by the Likud proposal to create a Parliamentary Commission in order to enquire about the sources of funding of Israeli NGO’s.

In a paradoxically way, I agreed with both speakers.

On the one hand I believe just like Yariv Oppenheimer that freedom of speech must be safeguarded despite loopholes inherent to any democratic regime, where anti-democratic forces sometimes take advantage of the system. Furthermore, freedom of speech, as Yariv Oppenheimer rightly says, must not be confined to the right of publishing articles or hold speeches, but should also allow for financial support in Israel or elsewhere in order to acquire means to promote one’s ideas.

On the other hand, I agree with Dany Danon that accepting support from Israel’s enemies or from anti-Semitic organizations is both immoral and dangerous.

However, in practice it is difficult, if not impossible, to monitor the flow of financial support to NGO’s. Even if a parliamentary commissions would come forward with evidence that sources of finance of some organizations are problematic, then these organizations would soon find ways around it. Therefore I believe it is unrealistic to assume that an Israeli parliamentary commission would be capable of preventing such funding.

If an Israeli NGO appears to be hostile to Israel and its institutions than it should be to the Israeli judiciary to deal with the issue, regardless of the source of finance of such an NGO.

Many Israeli NGO’s, however, are of good faith, but having lived six decades in the Diaspora, I sense that these are at times unaware that some of their followers abroad are in fact antagonistic to the very existence of Israel. Moreover, many of these so-called friends are effectively anti-Semites.

This applies of course to both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Recently a delegation of 35 Member of Parliament of various European extreme-right movements was hosted by members of the Knesset and mayors. The ideology of these European groups is in most cases inspired by racist and anti-humanistic views. Israeli organizations that accept to connect with them, whether morally or financially, are in my opinion mistaken, because the motivations of these unexpected associates are incompatible with the values the NGO’s  stand for.

The same is valid for NGO’s having friendly contacts with the European extreme left. This stream is according to my experience driven by deep-rooted anti-Semitic feelings. It is by and large opposed to the very idea of a Jewish state and is using its closeness with Israeli NGO’s as an alibi to conceal its real objective. As a general statement I would say that the European extreme left has internalized the centuries-old anti-Semitism, but for the sake of politically correctness it has dressed it up in anti-Zionism.

In conclusion, I believe it should be up to the Israeli NGO’s to apply self-discipline and carefully scrutinize the profile of external parties willing to support them. They should decline assistance of whatever nature from movements with views incompatible with the their own ethics. The role of a parliamentary Commission could then be to enquire about the true motivations of parties abroad, and share their findings with the NGO’s in order for them make decisions based on the knowledge of the nature of parties seeking to assist them.

2 comments to Likud proposes to create a Parliamentary Commission about funding of NGO’s.

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