Press Release

Israel Democracy Institute Specialists on Non-profit Organization Bill:

Stop the bill that will be brought to a first reading.

The law is not similar to the American law. It discriminates and is likely to lead to lawsuits against Israel in the international criminal court.

Ahead of Monday's Knesset vote on the Non-profit bill, and in response to the updated draft of the bill that was recently published, a policy statement was sent to the justice minister and members of the Knesset written by the Israel Democracy Institute's researchers Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs. They ask for Knesset members to block the passage of the bill.

The policy statement makes reference to a statement by the Prime Minister about the need to align the Israeli law to the American law by making the law apply "from the first shekel." However, these are changes that were not made:

  • The American law (Foreign Agent Law) does not differentiate between individual contributions and those from countries.
  • The American law applies to instances in which the organization is controlled by a foreign entity that runs it, the Israeli bill addresses organizations that are run by Israelis and receive money according to criteria that were set by local people with local interests.
  • An amendment made in 2015 to the House of Representatives rules has no similarity to the Israeli draft bill because the American amendment (which was not ratified) requires disclosure of the nonprofit organization before it appears before the committee – and this is just in cases in which that country contributes funds toward an issue that is relevant to the discussion. 
  • The American amendment also deals specifically with the requirement to report on federal funding; Israel's doesn’t.

As such, Kremnitzer and Fuchs write that the bills have nothing in common. The Israeli version's purpose is to taint nonprofit organizations as foreign agents while preventing their work and questioning their legitimacy at a time when they already have a high-level of transparency (nonprofit organizations are obligated to advertise the sources of their funding every quarter).

Moreover, the authors write, that there must be equal demands of transparency for private contributions and foreign governments. Therefore, it is a bill that harms the principle of equality and freedom of association that is protected in a Basic Law.

In conclusion, Kremnitzer and Fuchs write that it is a bill that ignores the modern tradition of human rights that developed after World War II, according to which, "harming organizations will deteriorate the international image of Israel and could lead to a long list of claims to the international criminal court in The Hague. This is despite that the institutions of the State today require an independent process of oversight."

Full policy statement (Hebrew)>>

    Tags:
    rule of law