Transparency Law: How To Really Defy Unscrupulous Discrimination
There is something you can do about the Transparency Law if you really think it unscrupulously discriminates against left-wing organizations.
In criticizing the passage of the Transparency Bill into Law, the Left is attempting to paint the Law as blatantly discriminating against organizations that operate in opposition to the views of the right wing government. The New Israel Fund (NIF), associated with many of the affected NGOs, disapproves of the law.
While the pretext for this bill is greater “transparency,” what it really does is create a series of new hoops that organizations that criticize Israeli government policy must now jump through or face huge fines. Targeted to progressive organizations, especially human rights organizations, that receive foreign government funding, the bill deliberately avoids requiring funding transparency of right-wing and settler organizations, which receive millions each year from foreign individuals.
I must admit that I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. Why should you have a problem revealing the identity of those who support your own goals? I once ran an NGO. If some French government body had wanted to donate money to the operation of my NGO, I would have proudly shouted it from the rooftops, unless the French government told me not to and made their donation to me dependent upon my silence, that is.
Your anger, therefore, at having to reveal the sources of your funds sounds fishy to me.
As I think more and more about the fuss the Left is making about the Transparency Law, the more confused I get. Here are the things I am confused about:
- The law says you need to divulge foreign government donations only when they exceed 50% of your grant income. If you want to avoid having to publicly report donors, you can just reduce the amount of foreign government moneys you accept to 49%. If this is too much of a threat to the continuing operations of your organization, then I must conclude that foreign government grants are far in excess of 51%. That scares me and raises the question of whether or not you are, in fact, a non-government organization, as I pointed out in an earlier post. If you do not see a problem in this, then you are so blinded by your own inflated sense of self-importance and that of your organization that you are not thinking rationally. But let me try to set this out clearly for you:
- “He who pays the piper picks the tune.”
- Because they understand this principle, the NGO Greenpeace, for example, refuses to accept any government donations from anywhere in the world in order to maintain their independence.
- There is no way that your organization is not being asked to do certain things in order for the donor nations to feel justified sharing their citizens’ tax payments with you.
- I wonder who is reticent about revealing the source of foreign government funds – you or the foreign government.
- Maybe you should try to emulate Greenpeace — if your motives are pure, that should not be a problem.
- Individual donors have every right to remain anonymous. After all, they represent only themselves. Governments cannot remain anonymous because they represent the vested interests of nations whose interests may or may not coincide with those of our country. If you think you know what is best for Israel, and think you can conduct domestic and foreign relations better than our elected leadership, maybe you should run for Prime Minister rather than operating an NGO whose source of funds you feel you must keep secret. (And if you or someone you prefer ran for Prime Minister and did not get in, well, suck it up: that’s democracy!)
- You complain that the Transparency Law is specifically geared at limiting the activities of left-wing human rights organizations. This is disingenuous. You know you are not really human rights organizations – you are political organizations masquerading as human rights organizations. You use human rights language quite convincingly. I accept that you sincerely believe that everything you do is truly for the betterment of humanity and you think that you have a monopoly on knowing what this is. But that does not change the fact that you are working toward a particular outcome of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian Arabs and the moment you deal with outcomes of political-military conflicts, you are a political organization. The moment you talk about “occupation”, “two-state-solution”, etc., you are a political organization. If you were human rights’ organizations, you would be talking about putting up playgrounds and parks, petitioning for teachers to teach the core subjects and not to kill Jews, campaigning on behalf of battered women and abused children, activities such as these, without voicing any opinion about political outcomes. But I doubt foreign governments would donate much to these kinds of projects. And I doubt the Palestinian Authority would cooperate with you on these kinds of projects. Remember Baha Nababta?
חדשות 10: בתום דיון סוער: חוק השקיפות אושר בכנסת https://t.co/5XhNJkdvoh
— Israel News – ישראל (@Israel_News) July 12, 2016
(Translation of heading: Following a vigourous discussion: The Transparency Law was Approved by the Knesset.)
The Knesset website published an official press release (26/Dec/2020: no longer available online) announcing the passing of the Transparency Law. The press release summarizes arguments put forward by those opposed to the law. MK Isaac Herzog provides the most scathing criticism.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) charged that the law “symbolizes the budding fascism that is rising and flourishing in Israeli society” and makes a “mockery” of the “right to organize, which is a sacred founding principle of a democratic society.”
I am astounded that anyone who actually read the Transparency Law could try to make such a case as Herzog is promoting. The law merely says: carry on doing what you are doing, with the simple addition that you tell the public who is paying your bills.
If you really wanted to convince me that you feel the left is being discriminated against, or that democracy is being undermined, you would not have opposed the Transparency Law. No, you would have tried your damnedest to expand the law to provide improved measures for monitoring all NGOs and increased transparency to include, for example, large individual donors, if not their names then at least their agendas.
[Image via Twitter]