A proposed law would force human rights NGOs to sport special labels indicating that they receive foreign funding. Maybe it’s time to talk about what kind of policies Israeli taxpayers are funding.
By Mossi Raz
I said it before and I’ll say it again: Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s “Transparency Bill” is a semi-fascistic law that harms democracy and silences dissent in a way that is reminiscent of Putin’s Russia.
The legislators of the bill have an advantage over the Israeli Left in nearly every aspect: they have organized settlements in which the residents pay municipal taxes that go toward the settlers’ political struggle; they have national service that is made up largely of the religious, settler community; they have the Settlement Division; and most importantly, they have the Knesset Finance Committee. With all these billions of shekels, why are they jealous of the morsels Europe gives to left-wing NGOS?
Today I prefer to write this article differently: there is no shame in accepting money from European governments who seek justice and peace. Personally, I am willing to walk around with a tag that says “Funded by the European Union,” even though this isn’t true at all (as someone whose salary is paid for by the Meretz party, I am not allowed to receive any foreign funding).
People who receive foreign donations for their political campaigns and West Bank settlements — which sometimes come from decent people, other times from criminals, sometimes from normal public institutions, other times from fanatic anti-Semites — are those who need to feel ashamed of their funding sources. Where did we get this twisted idea that private money, no matter where it comes from, is more acceptable than public money? In the eyes of the Right, the money of a criminal is better than the money of a government that has been democratically elected and promotes policies of justice.
I always thought about how the average Israeli taxpayer funded West Bank settlements all while settler leaders incited against Yitzhak Rabin during right-wing protests. Meanwhile, European countries funded memorial events for the slain prime minister. I always thought it was a good idea to expose what the Israeli government paid for versus what other foreign governments funded. Maybe then someone would start to realize what is actually taking place here.
While I walk around with my tag, Foreign Minister Shaked will be forced to walk around with a tag stating her shady funders. While left-wing organizations divulge what is already well known about their sources of funding, extremist right-wing groups — which are exempt from disclosing their funders — will be forced to do so. Netanyahu will be forced to walk around with a tag reading: “Funded by Sheldon Adelson.”
After all, the Right was up in arms after the European Union decided to mark goods produced in West Bank settlements. We can only guess how it will react when we start marking those who fund the settlements themselves.
Mossi Raz is the secretary-general of Meretz. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.