JERUSALEM – In response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay including Israel among countries she alleges “curtail the freedom of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society actors to operate independently and effectively,” Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor today released the following statement:

The inclusion of Israel on this list is an absurd decision that demonstrates UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s limited knowledge of Israel and reflects the powerful lobby of Israeli political advocacy NGOs in European and UN frameworks. In her statement, Pillay references what she calls a “recently adopted Foreign Funding Law.”  Legislation regarding foreign funding was proposed last year but was rejected in the democratic process and never reached the floor of the Knesset. Based on remarks, Pillay also appeared to be referencing the “NGO Funding Transparency Law,” which passed the Knesset in February 2011. This law simply adopts financial reporting requirements for non-profits and contains absolutely no restrictions on NGO operations.  Mirroring legislation in the United States, Canada, and other European countries, the legislation is intended to promote the democratic principles of financial transparency and the public’s right to know.  Commissioner Pillay is either confused or is regurgitating false information from self-interested political NGOs, or both.

On the heels of Israel’s social protests last summer, in which numerous NGOs freely and openly organized massive demonstrations across the country, Pillay’s comments show that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is again guilty of blatantly ignoring facts in order to isolate and demonize Israel. As has been repeatedly demonstrated, the UN Human Rights Council and OHCHR have a long and shameful history of exploiting human rights in order to single out Israel and make false accusations.

Commissioner Pillay, who heads one of the least transparent and closed international institutions, should embrace transparency and public accountability, rather than repeat these false claims. She has the moral obligation to correct the record immediately and issue a clear and public apology.