On November 26, 2014, NGO Monitor published “Imagining Racism to Demonize Israel,” a report critiquing the “Discriminatory Laws in Israel” database hosted by the Israeli-Arab NGO Adalah. We noted that Adalah’s rejection of the legitimacy of the Jewish State and its attempt to portray Israel as racist are integral components of the Durban Strategy that it helped formulate at the 2001 UN racism conference in South Africa.
Our report was covered in the Jerusalem Post (“Adalah list of ‘discriminatory laws’ is faulty, meant to demonize Israel – report”), with comments from Adalah. As noted below, Adalah’s claims in the Jerusalem Post did not address the main points of our analysis.
Adalah claim: “Unfortunately, Adalah does not have to ‘imagine’ racism and discrimination in Israel: Palestinian citizens of the state face it every day in all fields.”
Response: Adalah does not deny the central points of NGO Monitor’s report: (1) Adalah considers Zionism and Israel’s Jewish character as “racist” and “discriminatory”; (2) it employs a loose definition of “discrimination,” and many of the laws and proposed laws are entirely unrelated to Israeli Arabs or other minorities; (3) laws promoting Zionism and the historic Jewish connection to Israel are labeled as discriminatory, including includes laws that relate to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” as well as the use of Jewish symbols and the Hebrew calendar; (4) Adalah uses the word “Zionist” in a pejorative manner throughout the database.
This is not to deny the existence of racism directed against minorities in Israeli society, as in all countries, and friction between Jews and Arabs, but Adalah acts irresponsibly and exacerbates tensions by inventing discrimination in instances where there is none.
Claim: “…the number 101 is ‘imagined’ by NGO Monitor: Adalah clearly states that ‘there are more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate,’ and that the database also collects ‘pending legislation,’ which is not law.”
Response: The number “101” was obtained by counting the laws and proposed pieces of legislation in the database – Adalah’s summary of its own work notwithstanding. As our report clearly states, “The database is a list of 101 laws and proposed legislation that never became law.”
Claim: “Adalah goes on to cite examples that it sees as discriminatory such as ‘The Admissions’ Committees’ Law, The Nakba Law, and many extensions of The Citizenship Law, which bans family unification of Palestinians in Israel.’”
Response: Our report addresses the Citizenship Law. Adalah ignores the fact that 23 terrorist attacks, including a March 2002 suicide bombing in Haifa that killed 15, were carried out through the exploitation of “family entry” into Israel. More than 135 Israelis were killed and more than 700 injured. In 2012, “a West Bank Palestinian naturalized through a family reunification procedure some 15 years ago” planted a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv. The resulting explosion injured 28; there were no fatalities.
The “Nakba Law” (officially titled “Amendment No. 40 to the Budgets Foundations Law ”) limits state funding to entities that reject Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” or commemorate Israeli Independence Day as a day of mourning. The law does not prevent Arab-Israelis (or any Israelis) from holding such events if they so choose.
The “Admissions Committees Law” – Cooperative Societies Ordinance – Amendment No. 8 (2011) allows resident admissions committees in certain towns of the Negev or Galilee with fewer than 400 households.
Claim: “Concerning funding to Adalah and ‘compliance with all ‘NGO Law’ requirements, notably, each year, including in 2014, Adalah has received a ‘certificate of good governance’ from the Registrar of Associations,’ the Haifa-based organization said.”
Response: In accordance with the Israeli NGO Funding Transparency Law, foreign funding to NGOs must be submitted quarterly to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits. The Registrar is then supposed to post the submissions online.
As of November 9, 2014, the latest available funding information for Adalah was from 2012. As noted in our report, it is unclear whether Adalah had failed to act in accordance with the law, or whether Adalah reports do not appear due to problems in the reporting system.
As of November 26, 2014, Adalah’s funding information for 2013 and the first two quarters of 2014 have been posted on the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits website. It is unclear when exactly in the past two weeks this information was added, and when Adalah made its submissions to the Registrar in accordance with the law. (Information about Adalah’s 2012 foreign government funding, due one week after the end of the relevant quarters, did not appear on the Registrar of Non-Profits’ website until after NGO Monitor published a report [Feb. 3, 2012] on this topic.)