MK: Name and Shame Foreign-Funded Anti-Israel NGOs

MK Bezalel Smotrich says the public has the right to know which NGOs are funded by foreign governments to subvert Israeli policy.

Ari Soffer,

MK Smotrich
MK Smotrich
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Recent months have seen increased scrutiny in Israel of foreign-funded, left-wing NGOs and the role they play in subverting Israeli democracy, as well as in the global campaign to "delegitimize" and isolate the State of Israel internationally.

The issue was perhaps most graphically illustrated last month, when it was revealed that left-wing, European-funded Israeli NGOs provided a significant amount of the testimonies against Israel in the UN Human Rights Council's recent report on Operation Protective Edge. The revelation echoed a similar one made in the aftermath of the infamous Goldstone Report, which found that far-left Israeli NGOs - most of them supported by the radical New Israel Fund - provided the majority of testimonies against Israel.

Arutz Sheva also exposed how at least one European-funded NGO played a prominent role in the latest Gaza flotilla, which attempted to illegal break Israel's blockade of Gaza - in blatant contravention of both Israeli and international law.

The controversy has prompted, among other things, a revival of the so-called "NGO Bill" in the Knesset, which would place higher taxes on political NGOs receiving funds from foreign governments.

But MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), says that legislators need to look a lot closer to home first. He notes that, scandalously, NGOs funded by foreign governments to oppose Israeli government policies can often be found operating with impunity inside the Knesset itself - with MKs often unaware of their hostile affiliations.

To tackle that issue, Smotrich recently proposed a bill which would require foreign-funded NGOs to be more transparent about the sources of their funding and the true nature of their activities. Apart from forcing them to fully disclose their foreign donations for public scrutiny, the bill will also essentially name and shame NGOs attempting to influence Israeli politicians on behalf of foreign governments.

According to the bill, if any such organizations’ representatives lobby members of the Knesset, they must wear a name tag identifying the foreign state or states which fund them, as well what their goals are.

Additionally, any advertisements that such organizations publicize through social media would similarly have to state which foreign government they are supported by. If the registrar has reasonable evidence that these provisions have not been met, the Attorney General would have the right to impose a fine of 29,000 NIS.

"The principle is simple," Smotrich told Arutz Sheva. "Anti-Israel NGOs are being funded by foreign governments and it is appropriate that the public know this."

"There are countries in the western world which strip citizenship from citizens who receive such funding from foreign states, (because) they see it as treason against the state," Smotrich added.

In contrast - despite fierce opposition from left-wing parties and the NGOs themselves - Smotrich notes that his bill is far less harsh, in that it does not seek to criminalize such organizations, but merely to hold them accountable to scrutiny by the public and public officials. 

"My bill does not seek to impose a punishment, but when a foreign state is operating from within Israeli civil society it is appropriate that at the very least there be an obligation to disclose the source of its money."

"We won't enable foreign government to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel," he vowed.