Statement in Response to the National Service Law
In response to the passing of a law revoking national-service positions in organizations that receive the majority of their funding from foreign governments, NGO Monitor reiterates its long-held opposition to restrictive legislative approaches.
As a research institute, NGO Monitor has shown that restrictive laws are counterproductive and ineffective. Time and again, NGOs have exploited such measures to create a perception of being persecuted, damaging Israel’s international reputation and strengthening NGO fundraising efforts. Rather than weakening politicized NGOs, this increases their ability to disproportionately influence the public debate.
Funders that want to continue to support political activity in Israel can easily establish alternative mechanisms to bypass the laws. In addition, the proposals tend to only apply to a handful of Israeli NGOs, and do not address the more serious problems from Palestinian and international groups that operate outside Israel’s jurisdiction, transparency law and reporting requirements.
NGO Monitor emphasizes the need for dialogue with European governments on the basis of agreed-upon policy and funding guidelines that will prevent organizations that are active in anti-Israel or antisemitic campaigns, deny Israel’s right to exist, or support terrorism from receiving funding. Bills that would halt funding to anti-Israel NGOs, as well as other parliamentary interventions in Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, and elsewhere, demonstrate the utility of this approach.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, stated: “Knesset NGO laws are generally borne of out of frustration resulting from government funded anti-Israel NGO campaigns. This initiative is one such response – and the objectives are best understood in the domestic political context. Nevertheless, the Knesset action, while understandable from an internal Israeli perspective, is unlikely to weaken NGO political warfare campaigns.
NGO Monitor supports open, informed, and democratic debate regarding the role of NGOs and their funder-enablers. Restrictive legislation, however well-intentioned and understandable, does not further this objective.”