New Bills Threatening Israeli Democracy

The Israeli Cabinet is set to vote on Sunday, November 13, 2011 on two bills that limit the ability of NGO’s to raise funds, explicitly targeting funding for human rights, peace  and social justice groups.

Peace Now is working hard to get this bill stopped before its damage it too great on our democracy, we are busy meeting MK’s and Cabinet officials, holding online campaigns for the Israeli public and reaching out to our supporters around the world.

The two bills – one authored by Ofir Akunis (Likud) and the other by Fania Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beitenu) — would severely limit or tax international funding for Israeli civil society.

Understand more by reading this article in Haaretz: Funding.

The 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.

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, rhetoric in the media and in the streets in an attempt to de-legitimize Peace Now and other groups by calling them “viruses”, “traitors” and worse is a main tool of those who are changing the face of Israel the democracy as we know today.