ZOA Condemns Obama Interference in Domestic Israeli Legislation
News Press Release
January 13, 2016

The Zionist Organization of America ZOA) has condemned President Barack Obama for interfering in the internal domestic legislative process in Israel regarding the proposed Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) law, whereby Israeli NGOs that receive more than half of their funds from foreign governments would be obligated to disclose their sources of funding and identify themselves as “foreign agents” when lobbying Members of the Knesset (MKs). The Obama Administration has falsely and publicly implied that free speech and civil society were under threat from the proposed law. This false allegation is especially ironic and laughable, given that President Obama’s IRS repeatedly refused to give non-profit status to various conservative groups, which reduced and almost silenced groups opposed to Obama’s policies and ideology. 


A domestic law regulating the obligations of financial disclosure by Israeli NGOs is not a matter that calls for comment from any foreign leader or country, no matter how close an ally.

Shockingly and inappropriately, the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, expressed “concern” about the proposed law and “reiterated the United States’ view that … a free and functioning civil society is an essential element of a healthy democracy, and that governments must protect free expression and peaceful dissent and create an atmosphere where all voices can be heard.” Ambassador Shapiro also spoke of the proposed law creating a “chilling effect on NGO activities.” This falsely states that free speech and civil society are under threat from the proposed law.


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is remarkable that President Obama would interfere in the internal legislative processes of a fellow democracy and US ally.


“A domestic law regulating the obligations of financial disclosure by Israeli NGOs is not a matter that calls for comment from any foreign leader or country, no matter how close an ally. But then again President Obama sent or allowed his campaign professionals to come to Israel to run the campaign of the opponents of the incumbent Prime Minister of Israel.


“Moreover, I don’t recall the Obama Administration bestirring itself to intervene with the Palestinian Authority (PA) when Mahmoud Abbas called upon Palestinians to stop the Jews defiling the Temple Mount with their ‘dirty feet.’ I don’t recall it expressing concern in Ramallah when Abbas said no Jew will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state; or when he demanded the anti-peace ‘right of return’; or when the PA named a school or street after a Jew-killing terrorist; or their odious policy of giving pensions to families of suicide bombers and terrorists in Israeli prisons. All we get there from Obama is silence and $500 million a year to Abbas’ PA.


“Apparently, the Obama Administration is only moved to express concern when the Israeli government proposes that Israeli NGOs disclose their foreign government funding! 


“In any case, the proposed NGO bill does not prevent free and vigorous advocacy of whatever positions a NGO chooses to take up. It does not prohibit or impede foreign private funding. Nor does it prohibit or impede foreign government funding; it is solely a matter of public disclosure of foreign government sources.


“Far from harming free speech, honest opinion and civil society, this is democracy in action.


“The Obama Administration should cease its hostile and unseemly efforts to interfere in the Israeli domestic legislative process by willfully casting aspersions on a legitimate domestic bill.”


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