News out of Jerusalem this week is that the right-wing government has given the thumbs-up to the so-called “Transparency Bill” sponsored by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party.
With its passage, human rights NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governmental sources will be forced to reveal their status as “foreign agents” in every published document. They will also be required to wear special identity badges marking them as such when lobbying public officials or appearing in the Knesset.
Keep in mind that the sources of funding to these NGOs are already well-known. Current laws already require them to publish information about funders. So this is really not about “transparency.” This is about marking human rights activists as “foreign plants.” If you have any question about that, I refer you to the video released by the odious right-wing group, “Im Tirtzu,” which employs precisely that language.
Never mind that the foreign governments that support these human rights organizations are far from enemies of Israel. They are primarily E.U. members and others who have maintained solid and supportive relations with Israel. This matters little to the Netanyahu government. Anyone who questions its policies is an enemy of Israel. Even U.S. presidents who back billions of dollars in annual security aid.
Meanwhile, because right-wing groups are not funded by foreign governments, they are not subject to this law. This despite the fact that their own transparency is severely lacking. Like the left-wing groups they are required to reveal their sources of funding. But because their foreign sources are usually private foreign nonprofits, the names of the actual givers are concealed.A recent investigation by Haaretz reporter Uri Blau reveals that right-wing Israeli NGO’s have received enormous sums of money funneled to them by private American donors to 501(c)3 charities. These organizations were founded in order to provide support to right-wing settlements and settler-activists. And under American law they are exempt from reporting the names of their donors.
The amounts of money are mind-boggling. Between 2009 – 2013 well over $200 million flowed into the coffers of right-wing projects under the cover of American not-for-profit grants.
The funding … comes from tax-deductible donations made to around 50 U.S.-based groups.
Thanks to their status as nonprofits, these organizations are not taxed on their income and donations made to them are tax deductible – meaning the U.S. government is incentivizing and indirectly supporting the Israeli settlement movement, even though it has been consistently opposed by every U.S. administration for the past 48 years.
In addition to projects in the settlements, the money also goes to the families of convicted murderers:
Among those who benefited from the group’s support in 2013 were the family of Ami Popper, who murdered seven Palestinian laborers in 1990, and members of the Bat Ayin Underground, which attempted to detonate a bomb at a girls’ school in East Jerusalem in 2002.
Another beneficiary is Menahem Livni, head of an organization called Renewal of the Jewish Community in Hebron:
A convicted murderer, Livni was one of the leaders of the Jewish Underground, which operated in the territories in the 1980s, killing three Palestinian students and severely injuring two Palestinian mayors and a Border Police sapper. Livni was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released after six years.
Other nonprofits have donated money to the family of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir.
No one affiliated with any of these groups will be required to wear special tags in the Knesset.