Transparency is Good. Right? ?>

Transparency is Good. Right?

Israel recently  passed what’s colloquially called The NGO bill. Officially it’s called the “Transparency Requirements for Parties Supported by Foreign State Entities Bill 5766-2016”.
Great! I think transparency is really important. When you see an NGO that is pumping millions of dollars into Israel to advance a certain agenda the FIRST question you should ask is “what’s in it for them” and that’s often-times answered by who holds the wallet and thus power. That wallet is held “hostage” by a company, individual, political movement, or government. The type of entity is less important than what that entity stands for. Right? Openness.
You can make the argument that every NGO should be transparent. Every politician should be transparent about who’s giving them money, too, for the same reason. What agenda is s/he going to push? A healthy dose of cynicism when it comes to money and power is a good thing. See who has skin in the game.
There are hundreds and hundreds of Israeli NGOs that should now be open and transparent! Great! Right?
Wrong. Twenty Seven.
What!? Only Twenty Seven! I know. It’s crazy.
Why did the government go through this 5 year battle to get this law passed for these mere 27 NGOs? Shouldn’t we want all of them to be transparent? What happened here?
The question to that answer can be found in the list of those 27. Here’s a small sample:
  • Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
  • Akevot institute for Israeli-Palestininan conflict research
  • Education for Peace
  • Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
  • Sikkuy – Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality
  • WhoProfits
  • The African Refugee Development Center

See a pattern? All (but two) of these NGOs are either human-rights organizations battling for equality for all citizens and residents of Israel, anti-occupations, or peace-related.

Just like this bill is trying to show who’s holding the wallet for these organizations, who’s pushing this bill? What’s the goal of this bill? And why of all a very similar type? Is it “transparency”? If so, shouldn’t more than 27 really similar NGOs.

One possible answer is that only “this type” of NGO gets outside funding. Maybe there’s a logic in making outside-funded NGOs more trasnparent. But are they really the only ones gaining from non-Israeli citizens? Not according to this report that finds 93.8% of the donations to 9 right-wing NGOs are totally hidden from the public. We know about American Sheldon Adelson funding media outlets and Binyamin Netanyahu.  Why were they excluded? Why doesn’t Adelson’s paper not have that big “NON-ISRAELI FUNDED” sign that these 27 NGOs will now bear?

Another NGO, as an example, that isn’t part of the 27; Elad. According to this report Elad gets donations from all over the world including Lichtenstein, The Virgin Islands, Panama, The Bahamas, The US, and others. And from many undisclosed donors. Here’s a nice graphic showing this. If this organization doesn’t fall under the “Transparency Bill” what’s the point? Wouldn’t the public be better off knowing where that funding is coming from? Who’s pulling Elad’s strings? Maybe there’s something else going on here?

If we’re talking about “transparency” let’s be open about the intent of this bill: it has nothing to do with transparency; it’s goal is to discredit voices they don’t like.


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