Op-Ed: The NGO Bill: Who is Being Undemocratic?

This bill doesn’t prevent the NGO’s from doing what they are doing. It simply aims to prevent them from being funded by outside bodies who are doing so not because they want to advance human rights but because they want to thwart Israeli policies.
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011 11:28 AM


 

The government is proposing legislation that applies to “political NGO’s”. The bill’s explanatory notes state explicitly that it is intended to deal with “organizations acting in the guise of human rights organizations that seek to influence the political discourse, character and policies of the State of Israel.”
 
The Bill would ban “political” non-governmental organizations from receiving donations of over NIS 20,000 from foreign governments or international organizations.
 
The leftist Israeli newspaper Haaretz argues,
    Since they do not have any legal justification for shutting down these human rights organizations, Netanyahu and his colleagues are trying to achieve this goal via the parliamentary majority they command. As opposed to donations from unsupervised private sources, which also flow to right-wing organizations, human rights organizations receive aid from legitimate bodies like the United Nations and the European Union, which scrupulously abide by the rules of transparency.
It is not a question of whether these bodies are “legitimate” or not but rather whether their activities are. Implicit in this last sentence is the thought that “right wing organizations” are not even legitimate.
 
Even if there is nothing morally or legally wrong with the US administration working to unseat foreign governments including those in Israel, the question becomes is the victim country democratically bound to permit them to do so. In the past the US has contributed to the fall of a number of Israeli governments in the hope of it being replaced by a more friendly government.
 
Similarly, the European governments are working to thwart the will of the majority in Israel because it opposes their agenda which, for instance, is to stop settlement construction. They buttress their agenda by financially supporting Israeli NGO’s that are friendly to their agenda.

The government says their activities go far beyond protection of human rights and into the realm of affecting the political discourse. They most certainly do. It should be noted that these activities have more to do with providing the international community with evidence than they do to with changing the local discourse. Haaretz is saying that they have every right to interfere in our policy making and we do not have the democratic right to thwart their activities by denying access their money.

This Bill doesn’t prevent the NGO’s from doing what they are doing. It simply aims to prevent them from being funded by outside government and international bodies who are doing so not because they want to advance human rights but because they want to thwart Israeli policies or actions with which they disagree such as settlement construction or self defense.
 
These NGO’s are acting subversively to the democratically elected government.

A
The US outlaws the use of foreign funds by local candidates. Is this, too, undemocratic?
re they being democratic when they reject the will of the majority and openly align with foreign governments to thwart that will?

Furthermore we know that well financed PR campaigns can affect the will of the majority. How much more so if foreign governments added considerably to the funds available for PR including massive advertising budgets.
 
The US outlaws the use of foreign funds by local candidates. Is this too undemocratic? It also puts limits on what individuals or corporations can contribute to candidates.

In both cases the US is protecting democracy from foreign or undue influence and not undermining it.

Israel likewise.