Rule by NGOs
Israel has finally passed a law mandating that NGOs primarily funded by foreign governments be required to state this fact in their publications. Predictably, there have been cries of protest. The State Department decries a “chilling effect,” the New Israel Fund complains it will “stigmatize” NGOs, the European Union that it will result in “constraining their activities.”
But as Evelyn Gordon points out, NGOs that get most of their money from foreign governments are not non-governmental organizations at all, but government instruments. Case in point: if an Israeli organization that conducts activities in Judea and Samaria wants EU funding, it has to conform to EU foreign policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which explains why 25 of the 27 organizations affected by the law are far-left. There is nothing undemocratic (the law’s critics to the contrary) about letting Israelis know where the funding for these outfits comes from. As for the law’s effect in reducing trust in these ostensible “non-governmental” groups, Gordon points out that “in the years since the idea of legislating this law first arose, most of the organizations in question have made themselves so toxic that it’s hard to see how information about their foreign funding could make Israelis view them any more negatively.”
What Gordon does not say is that the Europeans themselves are subordinate to the NGOs they use against Israel. Who sets EU policy if not NGOs? They set the moral guidelines under which the EU operates. There are huge numbers of NGOs and the vast majority adhere to a common ideological framework. Why cannot the EU enforce its outer boundaries, while permitting free movement within? It’s because EU elites fear unleashing the righteous wrath of the “humanitarian” NGOs should they make a serious effort to keep migrants out. The best they can come up with is bribing Turkey to do the job and that deal is in danger of breaking down. Why can’t EU members rapidly screen out and deport those whom the courts find are not entitled to asylum? Writing in England’s Daily Mail, a judge describes the case of a Muslim who had lived in England for years with his wife and children and went back to his country of origin to marry three more women (permitted under Islamic law). The new wives and their children claimed British nationality and the right to come to England on the basis of the “right to family life.” Never mind that Britain does not recognize polygamy. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights incorporates that right and the extended family (on appeal) won the case. There is no appetite for changing such crazy human rights legislation, given such change would marshal a vast “moral” upsurge of opposition by the NGOs. Looking at the damage NGOs do to Israel it’s easy to forget the greater damage they do to those governments who foolishly fund and unleash them.
The Good and the Evil
A horrible attack near Hebron, in which Arab terrorists fired over 20 bullets into a car driven by Rabbi Miki Mark, killing him and wounding his wife and two children, was accompanied by something unusual—Arabs who tried to help them. A Palestinian Arab, coming on the overturned car, pulled out the victims and his wife, a doctor, staunched the bleeding from one of the children’s wounds. But while the Arab man, identified only as “J” was widely praised in the Israeli press, his fellow Arabs responded differently. Even as “J” and his wife helped the Mark family, dozens of vehicles passed by, demanding that they stop helping Jews. More serious for “J”, the Palestinian Authority fired him from his public service job. A relative said: “Since it became clear that he was the first to arrive at the scene of the attack and he helped the victims, he and his family have been subjected to a smear campaign and received threats…They told him that he was let go because of budget cuts, but he was the only one who was fired a few days after the incident.”
As P. David Hornik points out, in the supposedly “moderate” (compared to Hamas) PA, “even a spontaneous, humanitarian act of salvaging a wounded, terrified woman and her children is seen—since they were Israeli–as treason.” Which underlines that unless and until these attitudes change—and given the way the PA instills hatred of Israel and Jews in its population that will not be anytime soon–all the peace processing in the world, so loved by the world’s political leaders– is a futile exercise.
U.S. Funds Hate-Filled Textbooks
If what Jules Isaac once called “the teaching of contempt” explains the outburst of hatred against individuals who exhibited decency and humanity, what is there to say of those who claim to be working for peace yet fund such teaching. That’s the case with the U.S., which currently shells out $400 million to UNRWA for schoolbooks preaching hatred and violence toward Israel and Jews.
The effort of the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal to elicit a response from the State Department to this scandal produced only soothing—and laughable–pablum. A spokesman emailed: “We are committed to ensuring that Palestinian refugee students receive an education that instills respect for and appreciation of universal human rights and dignity of all persons.”
UNWRA’s response to the Daily Signal was more of the same. It said of the textbooks: “These have been subjected to close examination, including by the U.S. Department of State, and found to be largely free of incitement. Moreover UNRWA has in place a system of checks and balances to ensure that no incitement is taught in our classrooms.”
Meanwhile, in the real world, the Center for Near East Policy acquired 200 new UN-funded textbooks for Palestinian schools; it concludes not only that the books promote incitement but that they are worse than ever. Textbooks published in 2014 and 2015 are about “delegitimization of both Israel and of the Jews’ very presence in the country.”
While busy whitewashing its role in promoting anti-Israel incitement in textbooks, the State Department has for the first time explicitly, in its annual report on religious freedom, accused the PA of promoting anti-Semitism in its media and textbooks.
In the State Department labyrinth, does one hand not know what the other is doing?