Two of Israel's largest extreme-left organizations, B'Tselem and Peace Now, have been accused of potentially violating United States law by acting illegally as foreign agents. The U.S. Department of Justice has been informed of the accusations, and is looking into the matter.
The charges were raised by Attorney Lee Bender. Bender first notified the Department of Justice's National Security Division of the potentially illegal status of Americans for Peace Now in November 2009. While awaiting the conclusions of the Justice Department, he developed concerns about B'Tselem as well and last week contacted the National Security Division to report in the group.
The Americans for Peace Now group is part of the Isreli left-wing movement that campaigns against a Jewish presence in all of the land restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. Its activists often support Arab incitement as part of the "resistance." B'Tselem is a self-acclaimed human rights group that consistently has condemned Israel for counterrorist operations against Hamas and has blamed Israel for most Arab violence.Both organizations use the Israeli Supreme Court as venue for attempting to bring about home demolitions in Judea and Samaria communities and for attempts to indict Israeli civilians and soldiers for what they term unnecessary violence in the face of perceived terrorist threats.
Both organizations are suspected of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The law, enacted in 1938, requires those acting as agents of foreign principles in a political or quasi-political capacity to disclose their relationship to the foreign principles and their activities.
B'Tselem and Peace Now both receive much of their funding from the European Union and individual European countries. As Bender wrote, “They have and continue to receive funds from European governments, and have an office in Washington D.C. that lobbies United States officials.”
If the two organizations are found to be foreign agents under FARA, they will need to report all contact with American officials, as well as for every political activity they organize.
In Israel, organizations funded by foreign governments are required to report the donations they receive to the Non-Profit Associations Registrar. Since 2008, such groups have been required to make their donations public via the Internet as well.
In 2009, MK Danny Danon revealed that he plans to criminalize the activities of Peace Now, B'Tselem and similar organizations by making it illegal for foreign-funded groups to engage in political activity inside Israel.