AJC Statement on Proposed Israeli NGO Law

Jan 05, 2016, 14:00 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Jan. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The controversial draft Israeli NGO "transparency" legislation draws attention to a vexing problem – well-financed foreign involvement in the Israeli democratic process. The law, if adopted, would require organizations receiving more than half of their funding from foreign governments to include a disclaimer to that effect in every public statement and communication with Israeli public officials.

But the proposed solution poses as many risks as the problem itself, including the risk to Israel's reputation as a confident and open society that has long been true democracy's sole Middle East outpost.

Israel already has on the books a law requiring disclosure of foreign funding of nongovernmental organizations. As in the principle underlying campaign financing law in the United States, AJC believes such disclosure, in a free society with a robust and independent press, to be the most efficient method of protecting the public from hidden political influences.

When foreign governments seek to advance their policy agendas through the activities of Israeli NGOs, the Israeli public and taxpayers in the countries that are sources of the funding deserve to know.

Existing Israeli law makes that information available, and is, in our judgment, sufficient. In the best democratic tradition, advocates and public officials are wise to weigh foreign support as a factor in evaluating the statements and actions of recipient NGOs.


SOURCE American Jewish Committee