Action Alert - Tell Congress to Tell Knesset to Reject Anti-Democratic NGO Law

Knesset

Israel is on the verge of adopting an openly anti-democratic law seeking to stigmatize, delegitimize, and ultimately silence Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Peace Now.

Tell Congress: Supporting Israel means standing up for Israeli democracy.

For a comprehensive "explainer" about the law, see here. Briefly, while purporting to be about "transparency," the law would brand Peace Now and other Israeli NGOs working for progressive, democratic values like peace, human rights, and civil rights as "foreign agents," based on the fact that they receive funding from (mainly European) foreign governments. It would do so, despite the fact that under existing Israeli law foreign government funding for NGOs is already transparent. And it would do so despite the fact that NGOs in question, like Peace Now, are founded and run by Israelis, are grounded in missions that are defined by their founders' values as Israelis, and for the most part have been pursuing their progressive agendas for years, irrespective of outside funding.

Tell Congress: If you care about Israel, take action now to warn your Knesset counterparts against adopting the anti-democratic NGO bill.

The American Jewish Committee issued a statement noting that the law poses a "risk to Israel's reputation as a confident and open society that has long been true democracy's sole Middle East outpost." A recent lead editorial in the Washington Post warned: "The proposal reflects the kind of tactic that Russia and China have employed to squelch dissent, and it is not in keeping with Israel's core values as a democratic state."

Tell Congress: Your Knesset counterparts need to understand that U.S. support for Israel does not extend to anti-democratic laws that seek to delegitimize and muzzle civil society.

Notably, Shaked’s bill only deals with foreign government funding – and for good reason. By refraining from imposing transparency requirements with respect to funding from foreign individuals and foundations, Shaked is permitting right-wing Israeli NGOS – whose pro-settlement, anti-peace, anti-democratic agendas are more in line with the views of the current government – to shield their donors, and their donors’ political agendas, from scrutiny. A new Peace Now report found that 94% of donations to right-wing organizations are non-transparent. Indeed, Israeli right-wing MK and former ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has come out in opposition to the proposed law, saying that it "could harm Israel’s foreign relations and image… such one-sided exposure, which ignores the funding sources of extreme-right non-profits, might play exactly into the hands of those elements that are trying to boycott us."

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