Groups spar with NGO Monitor over foreign funding
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Foreign government funding for Israeli organizations totaled NIS 34,355,579 in 2012, according to a report issued on Monday by the NGO Monitor watchdog group. 2012 was the first year in which Israeli non-governmental organizations were required to report such donations, in line with the 2011 NGO transparency law. NGO Monitor reported on the funding of 30 local organizations “from a number of foreign governments” to finance what it describes as “political advocacy.” “NGOs receive funding from two primary channels, either via direct funding from foreign governments, or indirectly via third parties such as foundations and humanitarian, development, and religious NGOs,” according to NGO Monitor.
NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg stated that he believes the law to be an “international model for transparency.” “It has been proven to be effective and serves as a contribution to the democratic processes. Once received, the funding information is made public, allowing all Israelis to access data on the influence of foreign governments on political discourse,” Steinberg said, adding that he views “the amount of foreign funding going to NGOs involved in polarizing activity in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict” as “alarming.”The positions taken by NGOs receiving foreign funding, he said, are “often contrary to the stated positions of the government funders.”
“Additionally, some of the donors involved through indirect government support, such as Christian Aid, Diakonia, and the Norwegian Refugee Council, are also involved in the Durban strategy based on delegitimization campaigns targeting Israel,” Steinberg continued. Norway was the biggest donor to Israeli NGOs, NGO Monitor reported, with NIS 4,598,507 NIS donated to local organizations both directly and through third parties. B’Tselem led Israeli NGOs in the amount of foreign funding, the report stated, with NIS 4,144,203 received, followed by ACRI with NIS 3,614,668.