Foreign governments still funding left-wing NGOs in Israel despite new law

Just over 60 percent of radical-left groups either did not list the amounts they received from overseas administrations at all or did so only partially, a new report indicates.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A majority of left-wing NGOs that receive donations from foreign governments have been breaking the law, according to Zionist group Im Tirtzu, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

Im Tirtzu came out with a research paper charging that from 2015 to 2017, just over 60 percent of the those organizations either did not list the amounts they received from overseas administrations at all or did so only partially. Among them are the radical-left B’Tselem and Peace Now.

The law guiding the behavior of nonprofit organizations demands that such groups report foreign donations to the Non-Profit Registrar (NPR). In addition, in July 2016, the Knesset passed the NGO transparency law, which legislated an additional requirement. It states that all nonprofit organization that receive more than half of their funding from a foreign political entity must say so on their websites and in all their publications.

The bill’s sponsors enacted it to make it easier for the public to know who pushes the agenda of various social and political organizations in Israel. It was also noted at the time that 25 of 27 organizations who receive large amounts of foreign funding are from the left side of the political map, although the law covers every kind of NGO.

The punishment for breaking the law is a fine of up to 29,200 shekels. Im Tirtzu’s legal department has demanded that the Non-Profit Registrar open an investigation with an eye to applying the law. The NPR said it would do so while confirming that at least for 2017, neither Peace Now nor B’Tselem has reported anything so far.

“The success of the expanded transparency law to block some of the donations from foreign governments proves that only legislation, along with diplomatic activity, may curb this phenomenon,” said Im Tirtzu head Matan Peleg. “But we also must enforce the law against the organizations that disparage it…. The State of Israel is not a banana republic, and we must not accept this violation of the independence and freedom of the State of Israel.”

Im Tirtzu also reported that overseas contributions to nonprofits in Israel dropped drastically during this same two-year period. According to the report, funding overall from foreign governments went from 65.4 million shekels in 2015 to 53.3 million in 2017.

It is too soon to tell if the numbers for 2018 will show another plunge.