Just a glimmer. But I’m grateful for every good thing.
Yesterday, there was a program held in the Knesset under the auspices of NGO-monitor (www.ngo-monitor.org) to examine the issue of European funding provided to Israeli NGOs. Involved are close to 20 NGOs, many of which represent themselves as human rights organizations: Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, B’Tselem, Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, etc.
The situation here is extraordinary, outrageous, and completely unacceptable. As Gerald Steinberg, director of NGO-Monitor has written:
“The nature and scale of European influence is unique – in no other case do democratic countries use taxpayer money to support opposition groups in other democracies. Imagine the French response to U.S. government financing for radical NGO anti-abortion campaigns in Paris, or for promoting Corsican separatists under the guise of human rights. Would Spain tolerate foreign government funding of NGO campaigns involving the violent Basque conflict? But here, as in other areas, Israel is singled out and subject to different rules.”
Needless to say, the organizations being funded do not represent genuine Israeli interests. but, rather, the political interests of the funding European nations, which tilt towards the Palestinian Arabs. They have done us enormous damage, most particularly in the international arena, where we are fighting delegimization.
“This often hidden support helps pay for expensive newspaper advertisements, such as those recently announcing B’Tselem’s 20th anniversary; the salaries of lawyers involved in dozens of High Court cases about the security barrier, treatment of Palestinian terrorists, etc.; the Geneva Initiative’s conferences and booklets; and a flood of statements submitted to the United Nations condemning Israeli policies. Recipient NGOs have a major influence on many issues in our lives, and on the decisions of our democratically elected government.”
Between 2006 and 2009, 16 Israeli NGOs received a total of 31.5 million shekels in European funding.
Make your blood boil? It should.
This is just one of many ways in which Israel is treated differently, and (to put it mildly) less respectfully, than other nations in the world community. It’s as if we are not seen as a sovereign nation. The only proper response is a tough one that establishes our national integrity.
As Steinberg wrote:
“Taken together, the large sums provided to NGOS by European governments through secret processes constitute a major effort to manipulate the Israeli marketplace of ideas. This is inherently colonialistic, undermining the goals of Zionism and Jewish sovereign equality.”
Not only was this issue discussed in the Knesset for the first time yesterday, the point is that legislation is being proposed to address it. The law being proposed would require full transparency with regard to foreign funds that are accepted. If, we must fervently hope, this passes, the next step may be requirement that the NGOs register as foreign agents.
Then there is one other issue to be addressed: Our legal system is liberal in the extreme. There is a principle known as b’gatz, which permits any individual or group here in Israel to go before the High Court and petition it with regard to anything. In most, if not all, democracies — certainly in the US — the petitioning party must have standing in the case or the court will not hear it. Not so here.
So, we’ve had ludicrous and damaging situations in which, say, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) has gone to the court and said that such and such a group is building an “illegal” outpost on land that shouldn’t be used for that purpose, and it demands that something be done about it. Shalom Achshav may be totally off base in its claims, and yet succeed in making trouble for the group doing the building. And when you consider that Shalom Achshav has no standing in the case — it doesn’t, for example, own the land that building is being done on — and that it is receiving foreign funds to pay for its lawyers, you understand how intolerable and damaging this situation is.
The ultimate — and most appropriate — final goal legally would be to prevent any group that receives foreign funds from being permitted b’gatz.
We are only now at the beginning of a process, but I have some hope that this represents a step towards standing up for ourselves as a nation and taking back the authority that is rightfully ours. And I pray that this attitude may extend to other issues as well.
It’s painful — seeing the tensions within the nation with regard to that building freeze. We’ve got enough to fight on the outside without fighting each other. And yet this is the situation that has been created: Residents and aspiring residents of communities in Judea and Samaria are legitimately furious, and feelings are high when inspectors come to check on whether building has been halted. (Note: The rule of thumb is supposed to be that construction is being halted if a foundation isn’t in place.)
Some residents try to block entry of inspectors onto construction sites. Others declare that they will not obey orders when papers are handed to them. There is the feeling that what is happening is not legal. As each person having construction done went through a bureaucratic legal process to secure permission to build, it is said that these procedures now must be honored.
There is one way in which this can also be seen as a positive. There would not be passive acceptance of any government decision to pull out of Judea and Samaria. Let the government and the world be put on notice.
Mindful of the anger of residents of these communities, PM Netanyahu last night made a statement on the issue during the course of a talk he was giving at an economics conference near Ben Gurion Airport:
“This is a one-time and temporary decision. Just as was written in the security cabinet decision, and just as I have made clear in both public and private meetings. We will go back to building at the end of the suspension.”
The future of communities in Judea and Samaria, he said, would be determined only via final status negotiations, and “not one day sooner.”
Well, you’ve got me, in terms of what this accomplishes. If the goal is to bring the PA to the table — and oh! Netanyahu continues to implore them fervently to come — then saying we’ll start building again in 10 months just about guarantees that they will not come. (Isn’t this blatantly obvious?)
Or, conversely, in the extremely unlikely event that they did start serious negotiations, then he is kidding himself — and more importantly those to whom he is giving his word — if he thinks he would be able to easily start building again.
This, presumably, is being done for Obama. But what the American president gains here, if it’s being stated up front that the halt in building is only temporary, is not clear either. Power politics? Showing he can get the Israelis to cave? Maybe. One source maintains that Abbas had given Obama a commitment to come to the table, and is now reneging.
With it all, Netanyahu is lending the impression to the world that “settlements” are a key to peace, and is angering some very good Israelis in the process. He took the time to praise them last night, as part of his strategy of mollifying them: “they are an integral part of our people — they contribute, they serve in the army, they volunteer, they are our brothers and sisters.”
That’s nice. One “sister” in Tekoa, who had just received a permit to build — after she and her husband had waited two years — and was excited because the contractor had just brought a tractor onto the site, saw work summarily and abruptly stopped, and the tractor confiscated. She told the Post: “It’s a shame that the nation which we feel an allegiance to has treated us in this way.”
Activist Eve Harrow, of the Judea community of Efrat, speaking on IBA news last night, said that residents of Judea and Samaria are additionally incensed because there is a double standard: Arabs are not being required to stop building.
Harrow also raised an issue that had been raised earlier to me privately by a reader (thanks, Doris M.): It is also Arabs in Judea and Samaria who are suffering because they hire on for the building projects and need the money to provide for families. Many are hurting because their source of income has been halted.
It was announced yesterday that the European Union, at a meeting of its ministers in Brussels next week, will entertain a proposal to take a stance on Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. This would be advanced by Sweden, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
While Britain backs this, a number of nations — including Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Slovenia — do not, and so it is not clear what form a final resolution would take.
The reaction from members of the Knesset across the political spectrum was strong, and Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin delivered a statement saying that Jerusalem will never be divided no matter what the EU plans.
Members of our government are incensed by this proposal — which, for the first time, refers to “Palestine.” One senior diplomatic official cited by the Post said:
“This resolution shows that what Israel does is never enough, and the onus is only on us. It shows that the Palestinians want to get an agreement without having to go through negotiations.”
Noting that the draft proposal represented “a near-full acceptance of the Palestinian narrative,” that does not take Israel’s needs into consideration, he remarked that, “They don’t mention our issues, and when we bring them up, they say only that these will be dealt with during the negotiations. However, the Palestinian issues they put in the conclusions – those issues don’t have to be negotiated.”
What’s happening here is that Abbas is reinforced in his impression that he can get it all without negotiations. Others seem to be doing it for him. This proposal, thus, actually makes it even less likely that the PA will come to the table.
Finally, the offical lamented that while Netanyahu “went the extra mile” in declaring the freeze, the Europeans, instead of praising us, put all the pressure on us.
That final statement should be embroidered in large letters and put up in a frame on the wall of the Foreign Ministry, or, better, the Prime Minister’s Office. If this doesn’t finally teach us a lesson, what will?
Iran is continuing to be defiant, and now today the word is that — forget China — Russia is likely on board for sanctions. Don’t know what tomorrow’s word will be. It’s all so qualified.
A great deal will depend in coming weeks on the new, incoming head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, of Japan.
Barry Rubin wrote the other day about the gradual takeover in Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“The Iranian government has generally been radical since the revolution, 30 years ago. But now the most extremist faction of all has taken over, pushing out its rivals…
“The IRGC is the most fanatical and risk-taking part of the regime. It is very much committed to expanding the revolution and maintains the regime’s links with foreign revolutionary and terrorist groups.
“Oh, and it will also be the institution that will have actual possession of Iran’s long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.
“Not only are these people nobody can make a deal with, but they are also the ones most likely to make a war some day…
“Judging from his statements, President Obama seems to have the following picture of Iran:… Iran should be judged by its past record, which has often shown caution. In this conception, it is possible to engage Iran, appeal to its interest, and find some relative moderates or pragmatists who will make a deal.
“One could argue this position two years, perhaps even a year ago. But it no longer applies. The Iranian regime has changed to become far more hardline and risk-taking.”
This was shared by a reader, Sandra K, whose roots are in Iran. When she sent me this Rubin piece, she wrote:
“Barry Rubin, I’m afraid to say from first hand experience of my own, has very well understood the real danger in this group, and I am there to confirm that they were number one on my list of who was most likely to make the revolution last it its very outset…”
Do you think Obama has been told the truth?
“The Good News Corner”
Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva have developed the Optical Spectro-Polarimetric Imaging (OSPI) instrument, which permits detection of skin cancer at an earlier stage than has been possible until now. Most of the time dermatologists and surgeons diagnose skin cancers with the naked eye.
An Israeli company, Agrotop, has developed a revolutionary “henhouse of the future,” that addresses both the comfort of the hens and various ecological issues.
Chickens will have adequate room to move around, access to sunlight and fresh air, artificial grass, and a comfortable “cushion” to rest on. Wind and solar power will be used to generate electricity, wastewater will be recycled and chicken waste will be processed.