Israel May Impose Limits on Foreign Contributions to Groups Deemed “Political”: EU Not Happy

Print Share on LinkedIn More

November 14, 2011; Source: New York TimesTwo bills that would limit the contributions that foreign governments can give to human rights groups in Israel were backed on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. One of the bills would limit such contributions to $5,000, and the other would significantly tax such contributions. Widely seen as an attempt to curtail funding to left wing groups, the measure is being viewed with dismay by the European Union. The New York Times reports that “The bills were largely aimed at groups that focus on Palestinian rights, civil liberties and other causes advocated by the Israeli left, many of which rely on European government support.” Right wing groups tend, according to this article, to be funded by private groups and individuals.

Apparently these measures, which may not pass legal scrutiny, flow in part from government irritation about a United Nations report published two years ago, which accused Israel of war crimes in its 2008 invasion of Gaza. The report was seen as having received support from Israeli NGOs supported at least in part by foreign governments.

Members of the European Union are reportedly concerned about the “anti-democratic nature” of the bills, suggesting that it is an attempt to shut out civil society. As reported by, “The office of the EU in Israel has also approached the embassies of three non-EU countries—the United States, Canada and Norway—to coordinate the diplomatic response that Israel receives.” NPQ would like to humbly suggest that such attempts to gag the civil sector seldom work and often just further solidify resolve. —Ruth McCambridge

  • Confused

    This is a sound write-up but I’m confused why your teaser for this article said “If you wanted a statement on how the Israeli government really feels about democracy …” That’s an awfully extreme characterization. As you say, these bills represent the views of one faction and may not pass muster with the Israeli Supreme Court. That is hardly equivalent with “the Israeli government,” which is made up of different branches and political parties. Whether this law passes or not, democracy in Israel is doing just fine.

  • ruth

    It is the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu backs one of the bills that nudged me to extremes.

  • R. Ruth Linden

    Democracy in Israel is doing just fine if one is an Ashkenazi Jew but certainly not if one is a Palestinian. To wit:


  • Nicholas Raslan

    [quote name=”R. Ruth Linden”]Democracy in Israel is doing just fine if one is an Ashkenazi Jew but certainly not if one is a Palestinian. To wit: