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Israeli gov't votes to support bill targeting left-wing NGOs

Proposed law would force human rights NGOs to sport special labels and badges indicating that they receive foreign funding. The bill still needs to go through committee, pass a full Knesset vote.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the far right-wing Jewish Home party, who sponsored the bill targeting human rights and left-wing organizations. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The Israeli government on Sunday voted to support a law targeting human rights and left-wing organizations, which European countries and human rights activists have said resemble less-than-democratic regimes

The bill, should it become law, would require NGOs that receive 50 percent or more of their funding from foreign governments to detail those sources of funding in any public reports or documents, meetings with state officials, and to wear special tags when attending legislative sessions in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The bill is designed to single out human rights, pro-democracy and left-wing civil society organizations.

Instituting mandatory funding labels and identification badges would project a message that human rights work is a foreign — as opposed to an Israeli — interest or agenda.

MK Ayman Odeh, the leader of Israel’s third largest party in the Knesset, described that law as another effort by the Netanyahu government to “[chip] away at what is left of the democratic space in Israel.”

The “Transparency Bill,” the latest iteration of which was sponsored by Justice Minister and Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, is not the first of its kind. Netanyahu governments have been attempting to pass various versions of similar legislation cracking down on left-wing NGOs since 2011. Netanyahu eventually put the kibosh on previous attempts for various reasons.

Despite the fact that Netanyahu has blocked earlier versions of this law in the past, however, an unnamed source in the Israeli government recently told Haaretz that the prime minister would not stand in the way this time. The current version is more watered-down than previous attempts to target left-wing NGOs.

Sunday’s vote comes a week after proto-fascist group Im Tirzu launched a hateful campaign targeting Israeli human rights activists and their respective organizations, suggesting that because they receive foreign funding that they are “planted” foreign agents working to advance foreign agendas, at the detriment of Israeli security.

A Palestinian B'Tselem volunteer documenting a protest in the south Hebron Hills, June 14, 2008. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)

A Palestinian B’Tselem volunteer documenting a protest in the south Hebron Hills, June 14, 2008. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)

European Union officials harshly criticized the bill Sunday, warning Israel to be “very careful about reining in its prosperous democratic society with laws that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.” The United States has in the past said it was worried by Israeli legislation targeting NGO funding.

Both the United States and European Union are significant funders of human rights, civil rights and social equality non-profits in Israel.

Earlier this month, four leading German legislators sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu expressing their concern over the bill, asking Netanyahu to “rethink” the proposed legislation.

“Human rights organizations fill an essential role in any society which aspires to be democratic,” MK Odeh added, “which is why they are constantly targeted as enemies of Israeli sovereignty.”

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, explained the bill targeting critical NGOs as an attempt “to make the occupation disappear and blame those who oppose it — human rights organizations — for the global criticism that it creates.”

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    1. Tony Riley

      Bad luck lads, the game is up.

      Maybe Hamas will help you relocate to Qatar?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Heinrich Böll Foundation

      So coy of you, Edo.

      Isn’t there an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny disclaimer this article deserves? I mean you disagree with the Yahood and Allah Akbar, stab stab stab! But even you would admit that readers would be interested to know how 972mag is funded, wouldn’t they?

      Shouldn’t you disclose that this website is paid for by European governments to advance and justify their anti-Jewish policies at home?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        We looked at the nice Heinrich Böll Foundation. They do wonderful work. The world, including Israel, is a better place for it. Look at all these wonderful projects and initiatives:
        Nothing the HBF or +972 does is “anti-Jewish.” Your phrasing is racist. (And your abuse of their name outed you as an Internet troll before you even started.)

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          BEN:”… Your phrasing is racist…”

          Whenever someone disagrees with what Benny believes, that someone is racist.

          Reply to Comment
        • Merkava

          And there speaks the resident jerk, BEN. You don’t even know very simple things such as the meaning of “race”, “racism” and “racist”. You dwell in Jewish websites EVERY SINGLE day – from morning to evening – ranting and raging against Jews and Israel with multiple aliases including Jewish names (talk about “racist”), while not having a job and depending on government foodstamps to survive.

          Get a life, jerk!

          Reply to Comment
        • Heinrich Böll Foundation

          If the pro-Palestine, and violently anti-Jewish policies of the HBF are so wonderful, then what’s the big deal in disclosing that +972mag advocates genocide on their behalf? Be proud!

          The French government has a policy of persecution toward their Jewish citizens (to appease the powerful and racist State of Palestine). France strongly supports genocide toward Jews who live in the State of Palestine. B’Tselem fully agrees with that genocidal policy. No European “human rights” organization has ever said a word about Moslem persecution of Jewish communities in Europe. European “human rights” activists have worked hard to kill every Jew in Palestine.

          So why would a stabber, a Meretz or Hamas activist, or a B’Tselem gal be ashamed to publicize that they are paid to advocate genocide of Jews on behalf of the French and German government?

          Reply to Comment
          • Merkava

            We are well aware that BEN sometimes creates an account for “right wing Israelis” on this site and use it say stuff to discredit Israelis and then come back to repudiate the same “right wing Israeli” he himself created. BEN did that already with inter alias “David”. But “David” was exposed.

            BEN should better not be fooled by the fact that we sometimes keep quiet about certain things. It is an “Israeli thing”. But BEN is a foolish psychopath and will continue to produce one alias after another to continue to feed his deranged fixation on- and obsession with Jews and Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Daniel

            “Heinrich B.S.F” is as fake as his creator. Glad you and Gustav responded wisely. Good job, guys!

            Reply to Comment
    3. Leffe

      Who cares whether you or I own the cat, just so long as it catches mice.

      This government should find more important things to do than go after NGO’s.

      Reply to Comment