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To the Editor,

The heated public exchange between New Israel Fund and Israeli student group Im Tirzu is part of an important debate on the international political activities and impacts of NIF-sponsored Israeli NGOs that claim a human rights agenda. In his response to Im Tirtzu (“Im Tirtzu brings a lie to America,” JTA, December 14, 2012), however, NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch throws a few side punches at NGO Monitor and makes false claims about the Israeli funding transparency law.

For the record, NGO Monitor is a highly respected independent research organization with a clearly defined mission. Sokatch attacks NGO Monitor about a supposed “press release claiming that human rights organizations somehow ‘insinuated’ this and that about Israel.” This apparently is in reference to a detailed NGO Monitor research report on NIF-funded political NGOs (“Presumed Guilty: NIF’s NGO Network Promotes War Crimes Myths Again,” November 19, 2012), based on quotes from the NGOs themselves. NIF has not shown that our analysis was in any way inaccurate or misinformed.

Sokatch’s Op-Ed also includes inaccurate statements on substantive issues. Most egregious is his misrepresentation of the activities of the Knesset related to the law mandating transparency in foreign funding for NGOs (some of which are also NIF grantees). Sokatch, who is based in the United States, errs when he alleges that “legislation was introduced in the Knesset to defund” NGOs. No such legislation was ever introduced. Moreover, the various other proposals referred to by Sokatch, some of which were withdrawn at the early stages of the legislative process, are reflective of a strong democracy with proper checks and balances.

Gerald Steinberg
President, NGO Monitor
Jerusalem, Israel