Friday, January 22, 2016

Revealed: Who's funding Israel's far-left? - Ari Yashar

by Ari Yashar

Leftist NGOs have driven public discourse, but just which foreign governments and foundations prop them up? New database discloses all.

As radical leftist NGOs continue to garner attention for their politicized impact on public discourse, Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor this week released a database revealing just where they get their massive funds from.

The database discloses all grants reported annually by a full 27 Israeli NGOs between the years 2012 and 2014, sorting the data between private and governmental donors, and likewise indicating funds from church groups.

"The information in this database is crucial for the advancement of democratic transparency and accountability," said NGO Monitor President Professor Gerald Steinberg. "Clearly Israelis are attentive to grants given by foreign governments to political NGOs. Accurate data on this issue is important, but in recent weeks rumors and misinformation have dominated the public discourse."

"This resource provides the facts and figures currently missing from the discussion. The data provided can inform the debate over funding guidelines, and make it more accurate."

From the findings of the database, several crucial points become clear.

A staggering total of over 261 million shekels ($66 million) was received by the 27 NGOs in the course of the two years, and of that amount 65% - consisting of nearly 170 million shekels - came from foreign governments. Another 34%, nearly 89 million shekels, was raked in from private donors and foundations, while the last 1%, over two-and-a-half million shekels, came from unclear sources.

A full 20 NGOs out of the total 27 investigated received over half of their funding from foreign governments.

The three with the highest proportion of foreign governmental funding were Yesh Din at 93.5%, Terrestrial Jerusalem with 91.2%, and Emek Shaveh that got 90.2% of its funds from foreign states.

The NGO which received the largest amount of foreign state funds was B'Tselem.

Follow the money

NGO Monitor took a look at what foreign governments are funding Israel's radical left, and found that they include 21 governmental and intergovernmental entities, including the EU, UN, and the Human Rights and International Humanitarian law Secretariat, which is itself funded by Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

The largest donor to the NGOs was the EU, providing a full 28 million shekels, while Norway and Germany came in second and third.

As for the private funding, the London-based Sigrid Rausing Trust topped the list of donating foundations by providing 14% of the private total, closely followed by the New Israel Fund at 12%, and the Open Society Institute at 7%.

No less than 19% of the total funds, consisting of just over 50 million shekels, came in from Christian groups, most of which themselves receive large governmental funding. Another 5% of the total came from private religious institutions or donors.

The issue of foreign funding is particularly timely, as Israel is looking to pass an NGO transparency law modeled on laws in the US, which would obligate any NGOs that receive 50% or more of their funding from foreign states to open their finances to public scrutiny, as well as to identify themselves as "foreign agents" when lobbying in the Knesset.

Several radical leftist NGOs such as B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence have come under particular scrutiny in recent weeks, after an investigative TV report revealed how leading activists hand over Palestinian Arabs who want to sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which summarily tortures and executes them.

The full report can be read here.

Ari Yashar


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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