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Israeli Knesset Votes to Investigate Leftist NGOs

The Knesset voted today to investigate the funding sources of leftist NGOs involved in the Israel-delegitimization campaign. Such groups are becoming increasingly problematic in the country, and there have been indications that some of them may be funded by foreign governments and organizations that seek the destruction of the Jewish state:

The initiative, brought forth by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu faction, called primarily to investigate the sources of funding for these groups. The panel will essentially be charged with looking into where these groups have been attaining their funds, particularly whether this money is coming from foreign states or even organizations deemed to be involved in terrorist activities.

While the initiative passed easily by a vote of 47 to 16, reports say that the debate grew extremely heated at points. Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz called the proposal “a shame on the Knesset,” and others compared it to 1950s McCarthyism in the U.S.

There are certainly serious reasons to be concerned about who funds some of these highly politicized leftist NGOs. But without having read the text of the initiative, I still foresee a couple of potential problems with this proposal. First, it’s unclear how they will define which groups qualify for investigation and which do not. There are varying degrees of participation in the Israel delegitimization movement, from those who engage in lawfare and divestment activities to those who use terms like “apartheid wall” and “illegal occupation.” Where would the line be drawn?

It seems like the Knesset is setting itself up for trouble with this decision. If it believes it is a crucial security concern to investigate the funding of certain NGOs, then maybe it would better to call for transparency for all NGOs, regardless of political leanings (as was proposed last year). But by concentrating solely on leftist organizations, the Knesset only gives ammunition to baseless and tedious claims that Israel is on its way to becoming an ultra-right-wing, anti-democratic state.


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