The Israeli Cabinet is set to vote Sunday on two bills that limit the ability of progressive Israeli groups to raise funds. The bills explicitly target funding for human rights and social justice groups.
I want you to know about this threat to Israelis society. And I want you to know that NIF will not allow the most important Israeli voices for progressive values to be muzzled.
NIF and the groups we support are working as a united front. Our staff are meeting with their contacts in their Knesset and with Cabinet officials. And we’re reaching out to leaders in the United States to weigh in.
The two bills — one authored by Ofir Akunis (Likud) and the other by Fania Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beitenu) — would severely limit or tax foreign-government funding for Israeli civil society.
Their strategy is simple: Shoot the messenger. They don’t like the problems revealed by Israeli human rights organizations. And rather than address the issues, they’re trying to dry up funding for some of the most important and courageous groups in Israel.
If they succeed, they’ll not only shoot the messenger, they’ll be dealing a blow to all of us who care about Israel.
The Israel we love cannot survive if it is not a free and democratic society. Passing legislation like these bills — legislation that stifles dissenting voices — deprives Israelis of access to independent sources of information and to a range of opinions. The very fact that this legislation has come this far may already create a chilling effect on the vibrancy of democracy in Israel.
These two bills are part of a disturbing trend. Over the past two years we’ve seen repeated efforts by political officials to silence those who dare to question the current political orthodoxy. Legislation is not their only tactic. Just this week, a prominent reporter — known for her aggressive interview style — was sacked by the government-owned television station.
I believe that Israel can be better than this. That’s why I’m a part of the New Israel Fund. I think that’s why you are too.
NIF defends democratic values in Israel. Please know that we’re working hard to stop these two bills.
I’ll be in touch with more soon,
Daniel Sokatch CEO, New Israel Fund