ARZENU, the global organisation representing Reform and Progressive Zionists, expressed disappointment that anti-democratic elements in the Knesset are, once again, seeking to promote provocative and discriminatory legislation that will diminish Israel’s proud record of being a wonderful example of a transparent, open and democratic society.
“The proposed “Transparency Law” establishes two principal obligations regarding bodies whose funding comes primarily from foreign states,” said ARZENU President, Rabbi Larry Englander “The first is to report all donations from a foreign state. The second is for the organisation’s representative to wear a tag indicating the state that they represent.”
“It is most unfortunate that PM Netanyahu has chosen to endorse this legislation which, in fact, in seeking to stigmatize human rights organizations, actually severely impairs Israeli democracy by infringing freedom of association and harming the pluralism that is so vital for democracy,” said Englander “We fear that this will affect Israel’s standing as a democracy and damage her relationship with countries that provide funding to educational, medical and cultural organisations as well as the relatively small amounts given to human rights organisations.”
“In reality, there is no need for increased transparency since mandatory disclosure already exists today in the form of an obligation to submit a report to the Registrar of Associations for an NGO that received a donation from a foreign political entity. Details of the donation must also be published also on the NGO's website,” said Englander. “We share the view of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism that the legislative memorandum is discriminatory, since it imposes an obligation of disclosure solely on organizations that receive funding from foreign government entities, but does not impose a similar obligation of disclosure on those receiving foreign funding from individuals and private bodies, large donations which have a great impact on Israeli society and are not transparent.”
“Ultimately, as with previous discriminatory proposals, it is our hope that the members of the Knesset will realise that this new legislation is unnecessary. We fear that it is a case of politicians using their position to meddle with Israel’s civil society and can ultimately only help those who seek to degrade Israel by narrowing civil society and public discourse. Our hope is that they will either throw the legislation out or, at the least, extend its requirements to include funding from individuals and private institutions. We also call on those organisations around the world that work to support and promote Israel’s democracy, especially the Zionist Federations, will voice their concerns about the impact of this legislation.”