Bild, Germany’s largest circulation daily newspaper, on Wednesday ran a story supporting Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s NGO transparency bill, which had been attacked as anti-democratic by a Washington Post editorial. Bild noted that the criticism of the bill ignores the fact that millions of foreign dollars are given each year to anti-Israeli NGOs which operate inside Israel and support the boycotts against the Jewish State. Can the bill, which merely requires those NGOs to openly reveal their funding sources, really be compared to Putin’s blatantly anti-democratic rule, Bild is wondering.
The newspaper cites an NGO Monitor report stating that from January 2012 and August 2015 just under $35 million were given to NGOs that support boycotting Israel. “Every year 100 million Euro flow from Europe to NGOs in Israel, some of which support the boycott against Israel and spread anti-Israel propaganda worldwide,” Bild noted.
The Bild story said that Breaking the Silence, which “accuses Israel of war crimes through anonymous, unverifiable sources, in 2014 received 61% of its funding, directly and indirectly, from European governments. “If Europe’s governments wish to influence Israel, they are welcome to do it via diplomatic channels,” Minister Shaked told Bild.
“The Transparency Law, as its name suggests, promotes transparency,” Shaked added. “It isn’t trying to affect NGO funding, but rather aims to expose whom those organizations represent and whom they are likely to support. Any person understands that a transparency law does not aim to harm democratic values, the opposite is true.”
Shaked told Bild that Israel had suggested to the European Union to set up a mutual mechanism to regulate the donations, but did not receive a response. “It is the silence of Europe’s government regarding whom they are funding inside Israel that has eventually led to this bill,” she said.
Bild cited Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University, who said the comparison made by the Post editorial between Israel and Russia was “stupid propaganda.” He added, “Israel is a successful democracy with a thriving civil society that cannot be compared with Putin’s dictatorship.”