[Opinion] Australian TV oversimplifies Israel's NGO challenge
A January 29 segment, aired on ABC Australia’s 7:30 show, is a prime example of how, too many times, stories about the Arab-Israeli conflict are oversimplified.
Rather than serious debate on issues, networks bolster left and right wing extremists, apparently preferring colorful mudslinging over substantial, fact-base debates of core democratic values. In this case, the issues of accountability and transparency of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were pushed aside when political activists were given screen time to recycle their recycled slogans.
For decades political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Israel have received tens of millions of dollars from the European Union and foreign governments, who use civil society to influence Israel’s policies. This has created significant opposition, and a legislative proposal launched by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked placed this issue in the center of Israel’s public debate. And this debate has engaged not only Israelis, but also diplomats and world media, including Australia’s public channel.
Regardless of the outcome of this legislation, Israel is dealing with serious questions regarding transparency, accountability and foreign meddling in its domestic affairs through NGOs, and civil debate is needed. There are alternative solutions to legislation. For instance, NGO Monitor has proposed funding guidelines to European and Israeli senior officials, encouraging them to formulate mutually acceptable rules – but this, too, was ignored.