Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
Breaking the Silence

NGO Monitor, an organization seeking to promote accountability and transparency of NGOs dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is providing the public with an online database displaying the amount of foreign support for 27 Israeli NGOs, from 2012 to 2014.

“The information in this database is crucial for the advancement of democratic transparency and accountability,” said President of NGO Monitor, Professor Gerald Steinberg.

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In light of an already high level of awareness among the Israeli public to the phenomenon of foreign governments financially supporting and influencing a number of Israeli NGOs, NGO Monitor aims to shed some more light on the subject.

“From NGO Monitor’s perspective, the past few weeks have shown that people in Israel at all levels are extremely interested in understanding how the NGO infrastructure works and who is behind some of their activities,” said Aaron Kalman, NGO Monitor’s foreign media relations adviser, to Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“We believe that allowing people to see the information including the numbers and the facts firsthand will enable them to make an informed decision and hopefully lead this discussion to a more productive outcome,” Kalman explained to TPS.

As displayed by NGO Monitor’s database, NGOs in Israel received a total of NIS 261,122,525 in grants and donations from 2012-2014, at least 65% (NIS 169,728,500) of which came from foreign governments.

“Overall, it’s a lot of money and one of the reasons we’re putting this tool out there is to let people make up their minds on their own,” Kalman said to TPS.

There are 21 governmental and intergovernmental entities that financially support the Israeli NGOs among which include the European Union (EU). Donations from the EU and individual European governments comprise a significant percentage of the donations provided to the 27 Israeli NGOs, with the EU donating at least NIS 28 million.

Of noteworthy attention are the Israeli NGOs receiving almost all of their donations from foreign governments.

“There are differences between the organizations with some having larger budgets and some having smaller budgets, but what’s particularly significant is that there are some organizations where at least 90% of their budgets and based on these donations,” noted Kalman to TPS.

Twenty of the 27 NGOs that were examined in NGO Monitor’s report, receive more than half of their donations from foreign governments. At least three NGOs received more than a whopping 90% of donations from foreign governments.

Yesh Din, an Israeli NGO “working to defend the human rights of the Palestinians” living in Judea and Samaria, received 93.5% of its donations from foreign governments. Terrestrial Jerusalem, which seeks “to identify and track the full spectrum of developments in Jerusalem” as they relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gets 91.2% of its donations from foreign governments. Emek Shaveh, an NGO that claims to investigate the role of archeological discoveries in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, collected 90.2% of its donations from foreign governments.

“This begs the question of how many strings are attached to the donations and do the donors actually play a role in deciding what gets done,” Kalman added to TPS.

Kalman emphasized that NGO Monitor’s overall goal in making the report available to the public was to provide the public with factual figures.

“I hope that everyone finds this database useful and that this conversation centers on the facts and not just on repeated rumors and disinformation,” Kalman told TPS.

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