NGO Monitor Provides Background and Analysis on Secret EU Funding for Political Warfare

JERUSALEM – The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee today approved a draft bill requiring transparency in foreign government funding of Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The legislation is sponsored by MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), and constitutes a revision of an earlier text introduced in February.

The legislation now will move to its first of three readings and votes. At today’s hearing, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, provided background information and analysis on the role played by the European Union (EU) and member states in secretly funding Palestinian, Israeli, and other NGOs and “civil society” organizations.

“Government funding using taxpayer revenues for political NGOs, and allocated in secret, cannot be compared to donations made by private individuals and charitable funds,” Steinberg said to the Committee. “Governments are supposed to operate with greater transparency and democracies are supposed to respect other democracies. They should not provide secret funds in order to manipulate the policy making processes. But for Europe, Israel is an exception and is seen as a political playground in which the norms are irrelevant. European Union funding for highly political NGOs, for which there is no accountability, has a very damaging influence.

Many recipients are among the leaders of the demonization campaigns targeting Israel in the UN, the media, and elsewhere. When Israeli officials are threatened with war crimes trials, the European funded NGOs are usually involved.” Steinberg recounted to the Knesset Committee today his experience testifying at the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights on the “Situation of NGOs and Civil Society in Israel” on June 23.

“This session was part of the campaign led by Israeli NGOs to maintain the secrecy of their foreign funding by claiming that transparency is somehow anti-democratic,” he noted. “Similarly, Dr. Ishai Menuchin, leader of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), and Jafar Farah, head of Mossawa – both EU funded groups – attempted to prevent me from speaking, claiming I was part of the Israeli government.

In reality, I represented the only NGO present at the session that was not funded by a government.” Steinberg adds, “Israelis, like citizens of all democracies, have the right to know how political advocacy groups receive their funding and how they look to fulfill their missions. Unfortunately, Israeli democracy often is easily exploited and manipulated. Funding transparency will give Israelis the information necessary to assess these groups and their activities.”

For more information, view NGO Monitor’s report “Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs”