Press Release

Israel Democracy Institute Scholars Come Out Against NGO Bill

"The bill's real purpose is the delegitimization and silencing of human rights organizations that criticize the government"

Israel Democracy Institute Scholars Came Out Against the NGO Bill, which is being discussed today in the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee

Ahead of today's deliberation in the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee on the NGO Bill, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs sent committee members a letter and policy paper requesting they not permit the advancement of the bill in its current form.

According to Kremnitzer and Fuchs, the bill is not intended to contribute to transparency, but rather is being advanced in order to delegitimize and silence certain human rights organizations because some of them challenge and criticize the policies of the government. In their statement, the scholars write that the bill does not explain why it is only asking for greater "transparency" in cases where the money is being donated by a State and not from private donors.

While some have claimed the bill is similar to an American law, Kremnitzer and Fuchs say there are essential differences. For example, the U.S. law distinguishes between organizations that are controlled and managed by a foreign country, whereas the Israeli bill pertains to organizations that are run by Israelis and receive funding from abroad for programming defined according to criteria that were set by for their interests. In addition, The American amendment also deals specifically with the requirement to report on federal funding; Israel's doesn’t.

In conclusion, Kremnitzer and Fuchs claim that the proposal will cause further damage to the way Israel is perceived abroad, could lead to legal processes against Israel in international forums and paint Israel as a state that harms freedom of action by human rights organizations, such as Russia and Venezuela.

They conclude: "The organizations that this bill targets deal with issues of human rights and they are Israeli organizations of which the state should be proud. Their very existence and their internal criticism of the government contribute to the country's ethical nature and the way it is viewed in the world as a democracy that respects international law and the rights of minorities that live in it."

See the full policy statement (Hebrew)>>

English translation>>