Private funding of right-wing ideology in Israel

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Shir Hever | Alternative Information Center (AIC) | 2 juillet 2013 |

Private Funding of Right-Wing Ideology in Israel is a new report issued by the Alternative Information Center (AIC). The report examines Israel’s privatisation of its propaganda functions (hasbara) and increasing reliance on right-wing NGOs to conduct such hasbara work on its behalf. These NGOs often attack local and international rights groups as being funded by ’foreign interests’. This report demonstrates, however, that funding for these right-wing NGOs comes primarily from American neo-conservative donors and serves American political interests.

The report was researched and written by Israeli economist Shir Hever. Read the report here.

Such right-wing organisations and NGOs fall into three broad categories:

1. Direct contribution to Israeli occupation: These organisations include the Ir David Foundation (Elad) and Ateret Cohenim, which buy homes in East Jerusalem in which to house Jewish Israelis.

2. Research institutes: Research institutes and colleges which develop a semi-academic discourse with which to support Israeli government policies and attack critics. These include the Shalem Center and the Reut Institute.

3. Target and attack human rights and left-wing organisations: Organisations working primarily or exclusively to attack and delegitimise human rights and left-wing organisations, creating a discourse that these groups are a threat to Israel. Such organisations include NGO Monitor and Im Tirzu.

Since the 2009 national elections, the Israeli government and Knesset have increasingly adopted the language and discourse of these right-wing organisations, initiating a spate of proposed legislation to even further limit freedom of expression in Israel. While Israel has long limited the freedom of speech of Palestinians, both those in the occupied Palestinian territory and within Israel, this new legislation now includes limits or potential limits on expression by Jewish Israelis.

Right-wing organisations often cite the “foreign interests” funding human rights and left-wing groups in Israel. This report, however, demonstrates that right-wing NGOs receive substantially more funding from international, primarily American, sources, than the human rights and left groups in Israel.

American money flowing to the Israeli political system brings with it neocon ideologies, and serves political interests in the U.S. These donors are often affiliated with the Christian evangelical movement and American neo-conservative think-tanks, which want to exploit Israel as a testing ground for policies. Budgets of these right-wing groups are larger than those of human rights organisations, and their staff members earn substantially more.

Critical NGOs in Israel employ many dedicated activists, but right-wing NGOs are a well-funded industry.

Several right-wing groups have portrayed the left in Israel as enemies of the state and have lobbied the Israeli government to operation against them in various ways, from increased regulation to arresting of members. This report, however, emphasises that right-wing NGOs should have as much of a right to publish their findings and opinions as human rights groups and those on the left. Exposing interests, sources of funding and government ties of NGOs, however can help the victims of slander by right-wing NGOs to defend themselves.

Transparency and an informed debate work in the interest of those organisations that promote freedom over repression, equality over discrimination and justice over injustice.

Download the report.