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Anti-Zionism corrupts democratic institutions because it works in secrecy. Canada lived through the experience with Rights and Democracy, a now defunct government-created NGO.

A recent judgment of the European Court of Justice reminds us that the Canadian experience was part of a global pattern of non-disclosure of information about taxpayer funded grants to anti-Zionist NGOs.

NGO Monitor attempted to get from the European Union disclosure of the evaluation of the grants the EU lavished on anti-Zionist NGOs. The European Commission refused to provide the information. NGO Monitor president Gerald Steinberg took the European Commission to court.

The notion that information about evaluation of public funding should be withheld because its release might damage the reputation of the beneficiary is antithetical to democratic principles. The public has a right to know how their money is spent and whether the money is well spent or not.

Though the form of non-disclosure was different, the effort in Canada to hide from accountability was the same. When Israel began Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza, the staff of Rights and Democracy, a government-funded agency, attempted to get approval of a one-sided press release condemning Israel from its board of directors. Then-acting board chairman Jacques Gauthier, on behalf of the board, in early January 2009, refused.

The staff then did an end run around the board refusal, deciding at a management committee meeting in late January 2009 to use discretionary funding, without disclosure to the board, to pay Al Mezan, Al Haq and B’Tselem for confabulated, decontextualized “research” on the Gaza conflict. This “research” claimed that Israel had committed a wide range of human rights violations for what in reality was nothing more than self-defense efforts against Hamas attacks.