We’ve covered NGO Monitor’s strategy to weaken the human rights infrastructure because they regard it as essentially a plot against Israel, rather than a necessary part of a healthy and functioning civil society. Israel’s Didi Remez sounds the alarm on their latest efforts to sideline human rights organizations through enacting new laws.
Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, and his associates in government, have entered a new phase in their campaign to suppress Israeli human rights NGOs. This morning (November 27 2009) Haaretz’s English edition ran an op-ed by Steinberg. No longer satisfied with de-legitimization, Israeli neoconservatives have begun taking concrete parliamentary action to silence internal dissent.
As Steinberg writes
For over a decade, European governments have been major sources of funding for dozens of Israeli and Palestinian organizations claiming to promote human rights and similar moral causes. While these groups are known as “nongovernmental organizations,” or NGOs, they are, in fact, selected and nurtured by foreign governments. And as seen in research to be discussed in a Knesset conference on December 1, their agendas are more political than moral.
With little acknowledgment that Israel was built and is in many ways maintained by international funds, in his campaign against human rights groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, he calls for a new Israeli law to demand full “transparency” for donated funds coming from the EU in particular.
Predictably enough, as Remez points out in his response in Ha’aretz, Steinberg holds up Israeli human rights groups for opprobrium, but has nothing to say about the numerous US based NGOs which fund overtly illegal settlement activity (See Akiva Eldar’s recent piece on the growing backlash against U.S. tax-breaks for law-breaking 501c3s, and hear Akiva on Beyond the Pale radio). The gutting of human rights organizations, I’m fairly certain, is not what our grandparents had in mind when they imagined the creation of a Jewish state.
Didi’s op-ed on Haaretz is worth reading in full:
Bring on the transparency
Op-ed, Didi Remez, Haaretz, November 27 2009
The government of Israel is waging an aggressive campaign to suppress internal dissent. Most of its targets have been organizations operating in the occupied territories, and the campaigners would have us believe that they are acting in the interest of “national security.” However, a closer look indicates that they are motivated by a general disrespect for the role of civil society in a democracy. Any NGO in the government’s way seems to have become fair game; indeed, officials have even started calling refugee-aid groups a fifth column.