There has been growing debate and media coverage about George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, with much of the discussion revolving around accusations of antisemitism in Hungarian opposition to Soros and Israel’s response. In addition, MK Miki Zohar proposed legislation, named “in honor” of Soros, that would prohibit donations to Israeli non-profits from “any person donating to organizations acting against Israel.”
A number of articles have referenced NGO Monitor’s research, documenting Open Society funding to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that engage in political campaigns against Israel, including BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) and legal attacks (“lawfare”).
Indeed, NGO Monitor has been clear that such funding by Open Society Foundations is problematic and ought to be ceased by the funder.
At the same time, NGO Monitor has been equally clear in opposing any restrictive legislation that goes beyond transparency. For both private and governmental funding, the better approach is direct dialogue with funders and drafting of ethical guidelines.
In addition, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for expressions of antisemitism in criticism of Open Society Foundations, nor should anyone ignore or downplay its existence in some of the campaigns against Soros.
(Nevertheless, concerns about antisemitism voiced by Human Rights Watch (HRW), bailed out by George Soros after it lost a number of major donors following the exposure of severe anti-Israel bias at the organization, are cynical and disingenuous. Senior HRW officials have also engaged in race-baiting and other forms of antisemitism. In addition, HRW has never conducted a sustained campaign to combat antisemitism and in fact, has explicitly chosen not to do so for political reasons.)
NGO Monitor will continue to provide research on funding for political advocacy NGOs, including from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. And we will continue to encourage public debate about such support, within the bounds of democratic principles of civility, transparency, and accountability.