Worse still, whereas left-wing civic society organizations abide by complete transparency standards in their reporting on their funding sources, the new organizations of Israel’s extreme right, of which Im Tirtzu is a typical example, systematically conceal their financial sources by resorting to donor confidentiality or masking those sources with anonymous overseas shell foundations.
Here are the numbers: From 2010 to 2016, 85 percent of the donations, or NIS 13 million, received by Im Tirtzu originated in foreign sources. The lion share of this amount came from covert origins: it has been transferred to US shell foundations, which do not disclose the identity of their donors. However, Im Tirtzu is not alone: NGO Monitor, another right-wing organization cited by Peleg in his article, received 89 percent of its donations–NIS 23 million–from sources outside Israel.
Peleg’s main argument is that while European governments support human rights organizations in Israel, Europe itself objects to foreign influence on its politics. As support for his argument, he quotes from a report of the European People’s Party (EPP) on Russian intervention in European politics.
I have read the comprehensive, well-written report only to discover that it states that Russia’s impact on European organizations is not funded by transparent, official government money. Rather, it is financed by undisclosed donations from hidden channels. In other words, Europe objects to the same clandestine funding facilities from which Peleg and his colleagues in the nationalist right benefit.
Indeed, many human rights organizations are supported by the US Administration, the EU and European governments. This support is part of Western nations’ policy of advocating human rights organizations. However, state support, be it American or European, abides by very high standards of transparency, unlike the foreign private sources which Peleg and his auxiliaries suck dry.
Lamentably, a lacuna in Israeli legislation allows these organizations to receive foreign funding from undisclosed entities with no duty of transparent reporting. As a result, the Israeli public is left in the dark regarding the interests and the stakeholders behind NGOs and organizations that keep poisoning the social discourse in Israel with alarming efficacy and with deep pocket funding.
In fact, in the current non-transparent situation, and with extreme right-wing NGOs refusing to name their supporters, it is even possible that Russian intervention, of the type identified by the EPP report, exists in Israel too.
This unbearable situation must be rectified. The Front for the Protection of Democracy has drafted a bill, which will restrict the confidentiality on donors’ identity and their donations only to rare and specific cases, and prevent Israeli and international corporations, which do not disclose their sources, from funding NGOs in Israel.
We must stop the black money changing hands in Israel’s political arena. We expect anyone who believes in transparency and in our clean democratic practices to support our bill.
Uri Zaki is founder of the Front, an organization dedicated to eliminating black money from Israeli politics.