Israeli Cabinet Undermines Democracy with Vote on anti-NGO Bill

December 28, 2015

J Street is deeply concerned and disappointed by the Israeli cabinet’s decision Sunday to send to the Knesset for approval a one-sided bill aimed at restricting the work of progressive non-governmental organizations which monitor human rights and oppose the occupation.

This move is a blow to Israel’s most precious asset — its democracy — and undermines the fundamental democratic principles of freedom of expression and association enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Should the bill become law, it will damage the country’s international standing and drive a wedge between many Jews living in the United States and elsewhere and Israelis.

The bill, which was introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Jewish Home party, would create a series of onerous new requirements that aim to demonize and discredit progressive organizations. Under the guise of “transparency,” these groups would have to identify themselves as foreign agents on the grounds that they receive the majority of their funding from foreign governments. Meanwhile, right-wing organizations, which receive significant funding from private foreign entities, would be free to continue to funnel money to West Bank settlements and to other anti-democratic causes without being subject to the same requirements.

There is still time to halt this terrible bill, the sole purpose of which is to silence organizations which challenge Israeli government policies. J Street urges American Jewish organizations to publicly oppose this bill before it becomes law. We also call on the US government to join other foreign governments in raising objections to this legislation.