Last week in Israel, the ‘NGO Transparency Law’ passed its first reading in the Knesset, another step in its passage into law by the Netanyahu government. The New Israel Fund – along with our partners and grantees – remains highly critical of this bill.
Integral to the bill is government’s objective to marginalise human rights organisations in Israel – the kinds of organisations we are proud to fund and are crucial to maintaining Israel’s legitimacy amongst Western democracies around the world.
Here are some important facts about the bill:
- Although it is ostensibly aimed at transparency, every NGO in Israel is already obliged to report all sources of funding
- By requiring human rights organisations to wear a ‘foreign agents’ badge, the government seeks to undermine them in the public eye, which makes getting support even more difficult
- Extremist and settler-aligned organisations, because they receive most of their foreign funding from individuals rather than governments, are exempt from this law
On our website, we have included some interesting articles and resources that further explain the bill and its effects.
On Friday, I was interviewed for a segment on ABC TV’s 7.30 program about the bill, which also featured Nadav Weiman from Breaking the Silence:
We have also released the first two episodes of our new Israel Refocused podcast:
- The first episode features NIF President Talia Sasson discussing the bill, amongst other issues.
- The second episode is a discussion between Naomi Chazan, Labour MK Merav Michaeli, human rights lawyer Michael Sfard and American activist Matt Duss.
Also last week, an advertisement ran in the Hebrew press signed by more than 2,000 people from around the world – including Australia – showing their support for liberal and democratic values in Israel.
These voices joined prominent Israelis – including Zionist Union leaders Buji Herzog and Tzipi Livni, Meretz’s Zahava Galon and countless others – in their opposition to the bill.
Despite the fact that this law is discriminatory and politically charged, nothing will stop us or our grantees from the vital work of promoting a just and democratic Israel.