17 thoughts on “Bibi Advocates Banning Foreign Funding of Israeli NGOs, Echoes Putin’s Russia – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “Ron Dermer, chief of policy planning in the Prime Minister’s Office, decried the funding of political NGOs by foreign governments as a ‘blatant and unacceptable’ intervention into Israel’s internal affairs.”

    Erm, excuse me but what is AIPAC if not a political NGO meddling in US affairs?

    1. Not that I have any love for AIPAC, but it’s the funding from funding foreign governments which Dermer is taking issue with, which I’m fairly sure AIPAC stopped long ago.

      1. It makes no difference whether or not AIPAC receives funding from a foreign government. Fact is, Israel fully supports AIPAC knowing full well that AIPAC’s aim is to meddle in US Middle East policy to ensure it always favours Israel.

        Now that Israel has an externally funded NGO on its own soil that is working to right Israel’s wrongs, publicly, through policy changes, all of a sudden Israel has a problem?

        AIPAC exists because democracy allows it to. If Israel were to silence NGOs that criticise it, well then its “the only democracy in the Middle East” badge of honour will end up tossed in the trash where its “the most moral army in the world” badge currently resides. Take a long hard look in the mirror Israel. If ever there was a threat to your existence, it’s you.

        1. I’m right beside you on your disdain for AIPAC, I’m just not one to let my opinions cloud my understanding of the facts. Again, Dermer is taking issue with the external funding of BtS. I’d love to be able to take issue with AIPAC for that same reason, but the fact is that AIPAC is internally funded by US citizens.

  2. Since the Israeli government no longer understands or fulfills its obligations under international law regarding the Occupation…

    When did Israel ever understand or fulfill – or give a damn about – its obligations under international law regarding anything, and in particular the Occupation of any land anywhere?

    Just for starters, the systematic ethnic cleansing of parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the entire Golan Heights (Israel’s most successful ethnic cleansing effort to date – 95% of the Syrian population) began the moment those occupations began, and the colonization of both began shortly after that. Both ethnic cleansing and colonization are grievous violations of international law pertaining to occupation.

    Israel’s history as an international scofflaw began before statehood and has never changed.

  3. The banning of foreign funds for NGO’s comes as no surprise to me. In political terms the national interest always outweighs any consideration of revealing the truth. That is the case in almost all nations whether that be in Russia or Burma or even Israel.

  4. Curiously, the existence of these NGO’s (Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, etc.) is often presented by Zionists in discussion forums as evidence that Jews, as different from Arabs, have a conscience and are truly concerned about the suffering caused by the conflict, i.e. they’re morally superior.

    The reality, of course, is that those NGO’s exist thanks to the European Christian churches, leftist organizations and governments that fund them, and that both Jewish representatives in the Diaspora and Israeli Jewish parties are doing everything they can to boycott them.

    One more instance of Zionists wanting to have it both ways.

    1. both Jewish representatives in the Diaspora and Israeli Jewish parties are doing everything they can to boycott them.

      I think that’s imprecise. Actually, the 2 NGOs you mentioned and many other progressive Israeli ones actually raise quite a bit of funding from Diaspora Jews. So I wouldn’t say the latter are boycotting them though our leadership certainly finds them an inconvenient thorn as does the Israeli government.

      1. That’s why I talked of Jewish representatives. Progressive Jews certainly support those NGO’s, but unfortunately they’re not perceived by the non-Jewish world, by a majority of Jews or even by themselves to represent the wishes or the sentiment of the Jewish people.

        Don’t expect the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the American Jewish Congress, the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France or the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas to invite a B’Tselem spokesperson to give a talk anytime soon.

  5. “Just as it would be unacceptable for European governments to support anti-war NGOs in the US…”

    The U.S. government continues wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the American people wanted stopped years ago. This being the case, it would be not only ‘acceptable’ but morally correct, and even heroic, for European (and/or other) governments to support anti-war NGOs in the U.S.

  6. http://www.nif.org/media-center/executive-director-message/july-21-2009.html

    “Last week, NIF grantee Breaking the Silence (BTS) issued a booklet containing testimonies by 30 Israeli soldiers of their experiences in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009). The testimonies describe “a permissive atmosphere in the command structure that enabled soldiers to act without moral restrictions.” The consequences included the destruction of hundreds of houses and private property for no military purpose, and the killing of many innocent civilians.”

    1. So Larry Garber is arguing that his own grantee should be cut off from funding from other external sources & thereby damage the important work it is doing in exposing Israeli human rights abuses. That makes sense.

  7. As New Israel Fund’s communications director, I’d like to point out that we do fund Breaking the Silence and have for some years. As Larry pointed out in the JTA piece, there are a lot of good arguments against depriving BTS and other controversial NIF grantees of funding from European governments; being the fair-and-balanced attorney he is, Larry also pointed out one argument on the other side.

    In general, we’re seeing an upswing in both official and unofficial attacks on Israeli human rights NGOs that dare to criticize the government, either relative to Gaza or generally, as well as attacks on the New Israel Fund for supporting them. Certainly we look for support to this blog and the many other American Jewish progressives who know that being ‘pro-Israel’ does not mean accepting or hiding human rights abuses, and that supporting such groups in a democracy like Israel is completely appropriate. As Larry stated in the article — a quote that does not appear here —

    “In response to such arguments, Garber said that government funding for human rights groups in democracies was not at all unusual. Prior to his stint dealing with the West Bank and Gaza, he spent seven years at USAID negotiating the prickly issue of funding such groups in nascent democracies such as Russia.

    Furthermore, under the umbrella of groups such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a process exists of democracies monitoring one another — the Helsinki groups of legislators who track human rights in each others’ nations is an example. The U.S. Helsinki Commission, for instance, routinely tracks discrimination against Roma and Jews in democracies such as Romania and the Baltic states.

    “Democracies can work together,” Garber said. “How do you strengthen electoral systems? This is part of what we are as democracies.”

    1. Larry’s characterization of the arguments seemed skewed toward justifying denying Israeli NGOs foreign support. The quotation you used above doesn’t refer at all to Israeli NGOs or BTS & therefore provides rather weak support for them. The passsage is rather a vague portrayal of Larry’s past experience with NGOs in other places. I don’t know whether the problem lies w. WHAT he said or HOW the reporter reported the story. At any rate, I thought his comment was not vigorous enough.

      1. I think any reader of the original story will see that Larry, based on his long experience working for pro-democracy human rights organizations, believes it appropriate for human rights groups in Israel to seek and receive foreign funding.

        And, on the record, NIF opposes any attempt by the Israeli government to sever such funding, either through legislation or diplomatic pressure. I can’t be any clearer than that. And, as we’ve taken quite a bit of heat for our funding of Breaking the Silence, it’s clear that we take unpopular stands on behalf of groups that have something important to say.

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