David Newman’s article (“Constructive criticism can be good for the Jewish state,” 18 March) contains a number of falsehoods about NGO Monitor and our work.
Dr. Newman claims NGO Monitor is a “right-wing think tank . . .working with right-wing members of the Knesset to legislate against further funding by these organizations.” NGO Monitor is an independent research organization, providing detailed, systematic, and source-based analysis and publications regarding the activities of NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The ideological label employed by Newman, “right wing,” is neither accurate nor relevant.
The legislation misleadingly characterized by Newman as “against further funding” for NGOs is in fact, a multi-party initiative across the spectrum intended to remedy the extreme secrecy surrounding NGO funding by foreign governments. The proposed bill in no way bans such funding, nor is NGO Monitor “working with right-wing” Knesset members to do so. NGO Monitor is explicitly on record as against any legislation that would ban such funding.
In contrast to Newman’s self-serving descriptions of European- and NIF-funded NGOs as merely expressing “love for Israel” and “growing concern” over Israel’s future, NGO Monitor’s research has documented that many of these NGOs demonize Israel at the UN, support boycott and divestment campaigns, accuse Israel of “apartheid”; promote “lawfare” cases against Israeli officials, and even advocate erasing the Jewish character of the state.
It is not NGO Monitor that is stifling “pluralistic debate”. Rather, it is reflexive defenders of the NIF, like Newman, who want to cover up the role of NIF- and European-funded NGOs in the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. Continuing to deny there is a problem, as Newman does, will do nothing to promote “Israeli democracy, human rights [or] a just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.”