by Yisrael Medad
America is a democracy.
It upholds civil liberties and human rights.
It promotes civic society.
It also has a law which requires persons who act as agents for a foreign power to reveal sources of finance:
TITLE 22--FOREIGN RELATIONS AND INTERCOURSE
CHAPTER 11--FOREIGN AGENTS AND PROPAGANDA
SUBCHAPTER II--REGISTRATION OF FOREIGN PROPAGANDISTS
Sec. 612. Registration statement
(a) Filing; contents
No person shall act as an agent of a foreign principal unless he has filed with the Attorney General a true and complete registration statement and supplements thereto as required by subsections (a) and (b) of this section or unless he is exempt from registration under the provisions of this subchapter...
...(5) The nature and amount of contributions, income, money, or thing of value, if any, that the registrant has received within the preceding sixty days from each such foreign principal, either as compensation or for disbursement or otherwise, and the form and time of each such payment and from whom received;
That seems to be fair. After all, who would [want] to be subverted by a foreign government or a quasi-government institution?
But Israel, in passing legislation similar to the above has run into opposition from the EU:-
The European Commission has made known its concern over a draft Israeli bill that forces domestic NGOs to regularly disclose funding received from foreign governments.
EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele told the European Parliament on Tuesday that Brussels did not support the draft bill.
"We are following with extreme concern the debate in the Knesset over this draft legislation to oblige Israeli NGOs to make public any funds received from foreign governments," he told MEPs. "We have made our concern clear on several occasions to the Israeli government."
The bill, which in its original form would have revoked the tax-exempt status of groups that received funding from foreign governments has been slammed by Israeli human rights and civil liberties organisations as ‘McCarthyist' and compared the legislation to laws restricting NGO activities enacted in Russia and Iran.
The legislation requires that any spokesperson of an NGO declare in all public appearances that they receive funding from a "foreign political entity". Non-compliance would result in fines or imprisonment.
The nudging of the EU may have started with this:-
...an Israeli peace organization sent a letter to European diplomatic missions in Israel this week urging them to tell Israel that legislative action against NGOs may threaten the budget of universities, hospitals and other non-profit organizations.
The government has sought to limit the activity of Breaking the Silence, an organization that has published a damning report of the IDF's conduct during last winter's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
In the letter, Gush Shalom told the diplomats that "the discriminatory blocking of European government funding to a specific group of legal and legitimate NGOs may well result in a public backlash in the EU, which would force your government to cut all funding to Israeli NGOs, including to universities and hospitals."
Already there are those who think these groups, like Peace Now, are in violation of American law. The point is
Both organizations are suspected of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The law, enacted in 1938, requires those acting as agents of foreign principles in a political or quasi-political capacity to disclose their relationship to the foreign principles and their activities.
B'Tselem and Peace Now both receive much of their funding from the European Union and individual European countries. As [Attorney Lee] Bender wrote, “They have and continue to receive funds from European governments, and have an office in Washington D.C. that lobbies United States officials.”
I don't understand the NGOs. Other governments are getting wary:
The Indian government is now accusing NGOs, particularly the popular movement against the Sardar Sarovar dam, of acting on behalf of foreign interests, says Ranjit Devraj
...the Indian government is getting tough with people's groups, which it accuses of acting on behalf of "foreign interests" [and] ...has declared that it would closely scrutinise the sources and use of foreign funds received by hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country.
And in Bangaladesh:
A section of non-government organisations (NGOs) takes up foreign funded projects without analysing the country's socio-economic and ecological realities and the need of the people, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said yesterday.
"We [NGOs] don't judge the pros and cons of a project if we get funding. That's our [NGOs'] attitude," she said, suggesting that this attitude needs to be changed if NGOs want real change.
There is a real concern and democracies need to defend themselves.
Israel cannot permit unsupervised interference in it['s] sovereignty.
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