New Report Documents Extensive Foreign Funding Behind Left-Wing Israeli NGOs
Israeli news outlet NRG released a report on Friday documenting how foreign governments use their funding of local nongovernmental organizations to influence Israeli policy.
According to the report, which was published in honor of Israel’s 67th Independence Day, reporter Yoav Yitzhak began in 2001 documenting how European nations were attempting to interfere in and influence internal Israeli affairs by granting millions of dollars to various organizations.
Yitzhak revealed how an NGO called The Institute for Democracy and Leadership for New Immigrants, headed by former MK Roman Bronfman, received 400 million euros ($435 million) from the EU for programs that would shift immigrants from the former Soviet Union away from right-wing parties toward the Left.
The report described how the Four Mothers movement – which was founded to pressure Israel into withdrawing the IDF from southern Lebanon in the late 1990s – was promised $250,000 in funding from foreign countries but did not end up receiving the funds because the organization was dissolved shortly after the withdrawal from Lebanon.
Additionally, the report documents a 400,000 euro donation to Peace Now that the NGO claimed was intended for “peace education” among Likud voters and other funds donated to Ir Shalem for legal actions against Israeli development in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa, Ras Al-Amud and Silwan, as well as Jewish heritage sites in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter.
Not much has changed since then. Countries around the world are directly and indirectly financing organizations whose goal it is to influence Israel’s daily agenda in various ways. Sometimes these organizations declare that their intention is to “solve the conflict,” and at other times they talk about “human rights” or call themselves “humanitarian organizations.” Yet their shared goal is to alter Israeli policy, or make it fall in line with what European and other countries expect of Israel, the report said.
According to data collected by watchdog group NGO Monitor, between 2012 and 2014 about 177 million shekels was donated to various organizations from foreign countries, defined as “political organizations.” Some of these organizations are involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as B’Tselem, Gisha (the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement), Bamakom – Planners for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, MachsomWatch, Zochrot, Ir Amim, Coalition of Women for Peace, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, Adalah and many others.
The European Union itself is the regions biggest donor, providing these organizations with almost 18 million shekels ($4.6 million) over the past two years. Other than the EU, other big donors include Norway, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, which each give a few million shekels every year. In addition to giving money to Israeli organizations, many countries also offer money to Palestinian organizations that are more extreme both in outlook and practice, reports NRG.
These organizations are controversial in Israel because they consistently promote a Palestinian narrative regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the NGOs call for boycotts and sanctions against Israel; one of these organizations sought a boycott of the Israeli Aroma coffee franchise. Others seek the establishment of a single, binational state and the end of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist country, according to the report.