Israelis across the political spectrum repeatedly express concern over NGOs’ foreign funding that enables unfounded anti-Israel vitriol on behalf of foreign governments that are otherwise natural allies to Israel… In recent weeks, this has been brought to the fore with a major escalation, prompting reactionary responses from the Israeli government and other prominent figures – which while perhaps emotionally satisfying do little to actually address the root of the problem.
Such responses include MK David Bitan’s (Likud) suggestion to revoke B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad’s citizenship; Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev’s call for canceling a Breaking the Silence lecture so as not to give the “left-wing extremist organization… a stage to present its views on the city’s account”; the questioning of the New Israel Fund’s vice president, Jennifer Gorovitz, at Ben-Gurion Airport; and plans for new legislation that would prevent foreign government funding to organizations that “harm IDF soldiers.”
No less important, these responses do nothing to resolve the very real issue of government-funded NGO political campaigns. If anything, such backlash lends legitimacy and credibility precisely to those who wish to delegitimize and discredit Israel, and obstructs dialogue with those with whom we should be trying to engage and cooperate.
Instead of provoking each other, we need to strengthen the nucleus of common, liberal values and convince whomever we can that Israel and Europe do not only share challenges – but also share core values.