Ideology vs. Research: Peace Now's NGO Funding Report
“We welcome Peace Now’s very belated agreement that full transparency is necessary for all foreign funding of political NGOs, regardless of ideology. Unfortunately, PN’s report exploits this core democratic issue that impacts on Israel more than in any other country, to attack ‘enemies real and imagined,” Professor Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor stated. “After years of complaining that transparency legislation and research are ‘McCarthyite’ and ‘fascist’, political NGOs affiliated with the New Israel Fund, including Peace Now, have recognized the importance of funding transparency and accountability for what are ostensibly non-government organizations, but receive much of their money from governments.” He added: “NGO Monitor is a non-ideological research institute, receives all funding from private — not government — donors, is fully transparent, and fully complies with all relevant Israeli regulations.”
Government funding for NGOs is entirely different than private funding, whether from individuals or philanthropies. States exercise sovereign power on an exclusive basis, and state interference or manipulation of civil society organizations in other states violates that sovereignty. In addition, while private individuals and funds distribute their money as an expression of free choice, governments do not consult their citizens before deciding on grants to selected foreign NGOs.
Another essential difference is that many European governments, including those giving Peace Now almost half of its budget, fail to practice transparency on these issues. They reject Freedom of Information requests, their reporting is years late or non-existent in some cases, and the decision-making processes remain highly guarded secrets. In contrast, private donors generally report in detail to tax authorities in order to receive tax deductions.
“The methodology used in this report would not be acceptable in any academic or legitimate research framework,” Steinberg said. “Regarding NGO Monitor, Peace Now’s research relies in large part on an inaccurate article from Haaretz that is five years old. They clearly wrote the analysis without looking at the data, and through false ideological labeling, erases our cooperation and the credibility of our research across the broad spectrum of Israeli political parties and officials.”