The paranoid character of Israel’s dominant culture has been apparent since Netanyahu first labelled immigrants as ‘infiltrators’. David Shulman finds it in the actual attempt of the right, and state, to infiltrate any group opposed to the division of the country into loyal Jews and enemies.
Adam Shatz joins the dots – Israel, Turkey, Egypt, ISIL – to portray a Middle East which has retreated into tribal nationalism. Led by Israel, western democracy is no longer the model. Rather, it’s military action for military solutions and out with the NGOs that stand in the way.
From the start, Israel has depended on foreign funding especially from the US. Then, the money was given to Zionist bodies who were active in denying knowledge of the native Palestinians. That is now changing as young American Jews do not want to fund anything which perpetuates the conflict. Two openDemocracy articles.
Ad Kan is one of Israel’s nastier NGOs. It sends its people into human rights’ NGOs equipped with sight and sound recording equipment with the aim of proving such groups are frauds and really care nothing for human rights (Ad Kan’s motto is ‘exposing the truth’). Israel’s Channel 2 filmed a supposed left-wing activist setting up a lethal hit against a Palestinian which would lead the paid killer to horrible punishment by the PA. Tikun Olam and +972 examine the morphing of ‘security state’ into a Stasi state.
First they came for the NGOs, then they came for political pressure groups… How can Israeli democracy survive without these representative and critical voices? The police are following orders from the government, pushed by coalition partner Jewish Home.
It’s not just the anti-NGO law which has made Israel seem an alien in the family of European democracies says Uri Savir. It’s also the power of the religious establishment, the racism, the opposition to mixed marriage and, of course the Occupation, that makes Israel seem to have more in common with religious fundamentalists than the EU. The effect of any estrangement would be worse for Israel than Europe.
In the third world it is usually NGOs, more fleet of foot and less vulnerable to corruption than political parties, which pose the greatest threat to governments. In the developed world they are more often a vital element of a multi-voiced democracy. These comments on Israel’s ‘transparency bill’ all suggest Israel is in the former category.
A new bill compelling Israelis to wear badges if they represent an NGO and Israeli NGOs to make public any funding from foreign public sources has passed most stages on the way to becoming law. It was devised by the Israeli cabinet as a means of demonstrating that concern about Palestinians and human rights are foreign infiltrations. The right-wing is richly funded by private foreign bodies and individuals. Fear that Israeli democracy will be severely wounded spreads across much of the political spectrum.
NGOs have long been the only effective critics of Israel government policy. Thus for NGO Monitor and, here, Im Tirzu, they are destructive ‘foreign agents’. B’Tselem, Hamoked, Breaking the Silence are amongst the agents which must be silenced. But as Im Tirzu’s aim is to ‘promote Zionist values’ they may succeed in their isolationism, depending on their contacts and propaganda skills.
‘Attacks against civilians undermine every moral, legal and human standard’ says B’Tselem in a sharp attack on the knife stabbings of Israeli civilians. Singly and jointly the NGOs active in Israel and the oPt condemn all killings and the shoot-to-kill practice adopted by Israeli border police and endorsed by politicians.
This is a case of putting their money where their mouth isn’t. Honenu is one of many pro-settler, anti-Arab groups functioning in Israel. It is largely dependent on the tax-exempt funds given by Americans who are happy to believe that Honenu is a welfare / civil rights group rather than a racist pro-settlement group which protects and defends Israel’s right-wing nationalist terrorists. The spread and survival of many nationalist settlements has long depended on such deceptive donations.
The burning of the Dawabasheh family has galvanised Israeli journalists to look into the network of groups which generate or support anti-Palestinian and anti-gay terrorism. One such group is the NGO Honenu which provides various services to such criminals. Oddly it does not appear on the lists of bad NGOs published by NGO Monitor.
Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial (administrative detention) have again launched a hunger strike, eliciting mass protests in support and a letter to the EU’s Catherine Ashton asking for intervention against this illegal practice. At the same time, protests against the Wall have again broken out in the Hebron area.
It seems that anything other than treating Gaza, the place, its people, its government, as an irredeemable pariah is regarded by Israel’s defence elite as the soft face of terrorism. Thus the Council for European Palestinian Relations, a non-secretive NGO with the aim of organizing visits to the oPt by European policy-makers, has been ‘outlawed’ by Israel’s defence minister making its funds liable to seizure and officers liable to arrest in Israel.
The Alternative Information Centre’s regular bulletin, The Economy of the Occupation, has devoted an issue to a thorough, and invaluable, investigation of the right-wing NGOs which operate in Israel: who they are, what they do who funds them. Unsurprisingly, the donors are largely wealthy American individuals and bodies, both Jewish and Christian. The Israeli government increasingly relies on them to sell Israel’s case – hasbara. Given the results, one might wonder if they’re getting enough bang for their bucks. (Foreign income for human rights NGOs is far smaller.)
Gerald Steinberg, vigorous persecutor of pro-Palestinian NGOs, who lost the case he brought to the European Court of Justice on transparency funding for such NGOs, remains tight-lipped on where he is finding the funds for his legal costs. Ali Abuminah reports.
Regular readers will be aware of the efforts of Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor, to prevent any EU funding going to NGOs which support any Palestinian rights and to (mis)represent his organisation as a neutral auditor of NGO funding. He has pursued his campaign all the way to the European Court of Justice. And lost. We expect transparency in his payment of the costs.
22 NGOs, Christian and secular, have taken up what EU institutions have flunked: a campaign to press the EC and EU members to practise their policies on the illegality of Israel’s settlements and what they produce. CAABU media release plus excerpt from the report Trading Away Peace.
In 2001, Yossi Alpher and Ghassan Khatib came together to create bitter lemons, a publishing venture to present in the same space the voices of Israelis and Palestinians. It depended on EU funding, hard work and goodwill. Now one of those publications – the online magazine – is to cease. Israeli intransigence has been met with Palestinian withdrawal from joint enterprise. EU funders are stuck in the mould of restarting the ‘peace process’. Rosemary Hollis (1) analyses the reasons put forward by editors Yossi Alpher and Ghassan Khatib (2).
The mainstream of American liberal opinion was long reluctant to accept that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, its military rule there and its treatment of its Arab citizens did not allow it to be cherished as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. Now that has changed and one publication after another is issuing its discovery of the inequality at the heart of Israel. Here it’s progressive magazine American Prospect.