On Sunday, the Ministerial Legislative Committee will debate a bill submitted by Likud MK Ariel Kallner that takes away the tax credit from Israeli donors to NGOs that receive donations from a foreign entity, and in the two years before or after said donations promoted a public cause by appealing to the court, the Knesset, the government, the municipalities or bought advertising space.
In addition, the NGO will lose its not-for-profit status and be taxed at a rate of 65% of its income. The bill is part of Otzma Yehudit’s coalition agreement with Likud, which committed to enacting it within 180 days of the formation of the Netanyahu government.
On Thursday, MK Kallner tweeted his reason for the bill and mentioned Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff, Head of “the delegation representing the EU in West Bank and Gaza and to UNRWA,” who last August participated in the reopening of Addameer, which Israel had declared to be an arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP was designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel, and according to a 2021 NGO Monitor report, many individuals employed at Addameer have links to this terror group (Addameer Employees’ Violent Social Media Accounts).
“We’re putting an end to foreign political subversion!” Kallner tweeted, adding, “The fact that the head of the European Union delegation, Mr. Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff, thinks that the Jews are occupying the land to which they have returned, is the small problem in the story,” although, as he puts it, saying this about the remnants of European barbarism and mass murder is a tad insolent.
“The problem is that in addition to taking the position, foreign countries, mainly from Europe, do not stop acting within the Jewish state by funding civil society organizations,” and he mentions the anti-Zionist NGOs Yesh Din, Emek Shaveh, and Peace Now – to name but a few.
This did not go over well with US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Committee, Michele Taylor, who said publicly that “Israel must ensure that human rights organizations and other non-governmental organizations can operate freely, without economic or legal pressures being applied to them that would harm their activities.”
Ambassador Taylor should consult her government’s Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, requiring the registration of, and disclosures by, an “agent of a foreign principal” who, among other things, solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of a foreign principal.
According to the FARA website, it is an important tool to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security. The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States by ensuring that the United States government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy, and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information.
Asked about the pending Israeli bill on Wednesday, Matthew Miller, Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller responded: “I will just say that as a general matter, the United States supports the essential role of NGOs as part of civil society. We believe they’re critical to a democratic and responsive, transparent government. And we firmly believe that civil society should have the opportunity and space to operate and raise resources around the world.”
He, too, must take a refresher course on the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.