ZOA Supports Israeli Bill Banning Foreign Gov’t Funding Of Israeli Political Organizations
November 28, 2011


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed support for two bills before the Knesset in Jerusalem which would ban political organizations in Israel from receiving donations of more than 20,000 shekels (about $5,000) from foreign governments; and another which would tax such organizations at a rate of 45% on all revenue provided by foreign governments. 


Likud’s Ofir Akunis, who moved the first bill calling for a ban on foreign governments and groups, stated, “It is hard for me to think of a single Israeli who would tolerate money transfers from Israel’s budget to support political organizations in Britain, Holland or France…As a sovereign state, Israel is entitled to handle domestic and foreign affairs according to what it sees fit, and according to what the Israeli voter expresses at the ballot box.  If countries such as Britain and France want to disagree with Israel’s policies, they have acceptable diplomatic channels at their disposal to do so.” 


The head of NGO Monitor, Gerald Steinberg, said, “Instead of presenting and defending their disagreements with Israeli policy in public, according to accepted diplomatic procedures, the EU and individual European governments seek to exert pressure [upon Israel] via massive funding for highly politicized Israeli NGOs” (Marcy Oster, ‘Critics of Knesset NGO bills say Israel’s democracy being undermined,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 14, 2011).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA has been deeply concerned for some time by the stealthy political manipulation by foreign governments of the internal Israeli political debate via non-government organizations.  Obviously there are Israeli-based NGOs that are anti-Israel or bitterly critical of Israeli policies.  However, it is illegitimate that organizations that would be, in the main, very small and unrepresentative of Israeli opinion, are massively enlarged and funded by foreign governments.  This type of interference in Israeli affairs is remarkable.  Imagine the outcry if the Israeli government lavishly funded NGOs operating in, say France or Britain, or the U.S., which were deeply critical of those country’s policies.


“If foreign governments object to Israeli policies, they are free to express their concerns at the diplomatic level.  They do this already.  But they have no business imposing their foreign policy upon Israel by funding and aiding Israeli NGOs that are supposed to be representative of Israelis, not foreign governments.


“These bills will doubtlessly be examined and some amendments made, but the ZOA supports these measures in broad outline.”

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