Daily Israel Report

Knesset Votes Down Inquiry on NGO Funding

Opponents said inquiries would be anti-democratic, and smack of McCarthyism. They were voted down with 28 in favor and 57 against.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/20/2011, 10:15 PM

Regev blasts Kadima.
Regev blasts Kadima.
Screenshot.

 

The Knesset voted Wednesday evening not to establish parliamentary committees of inquiry into foreign-funded non-governmental organizations NGOs operating in Israel. Proponents of the bills said that such organizations are currently undermining Israel's security and political standing, and are funded by hostile governments.

Opponents said the bills were anti-democratic, and accused their proponents of McCarthyism. The bills were voted down with 28 in favor and 57 against.
 
The Knesset held a prolonged and stormy debate about the proposals to establish the committee of inquiry.
 
The establishment of the committees is supported by nationalist MKs and opposed by MKs from the Left. There are no known nationalist NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments. However, there is a plethora of leftist, pacifist, defeatist and pro-Arab groups that are funded heavily by other countries, mostly European ones.
 
While NGOs are obligated by law to file reports about their funding, nationalists and watchdog groups like NGO Monitor say that there is not enough transparency about the flow of money from foreign governments to the coffers of certain NGOs. The committees proposed by MK Faina Kirshenbaum (Israel Our Home) and MK Danny Danon (Likud) would examine this cash flow and propose ways of increasing transparency.
 
MK Miri Regev took the stand to ask members of the Opposition why they oppose the inquiries:
 
“What are you afraid of?… If the leftist organizations are so clean and everything is transparent… then let us expose them. What is wrong with you? You have lost all sanity in this matter.”
 
"The Jewish nation has survived for thousands of years, she said, “and will continue to survive even when Kadima aids the Knesset Members from the extreme Left in order to embarrass us and bring about our demise. We will not apologize and we will not stutter. We will investigate every organization that embarrasses IDF soldiers and libels them.”
 
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters Wednesday that regardless of the result of the vote in the plenum, he feels that his party has been victorious in this matter.
 
“The first victory is the very existence of public debate, and the success in bringing this onto the agenda. This is one of the issues that we have wanted to make a topic of public debate for some time, and that has been done,” he told journalists following the Knesset debate.
 
The party's pressure to act against extreme leftists is what caused Likud members to propose and pass the Anti-Boycott Bill, he said. He expressed disappointment with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision not to support the establishment of the committee of investigation.