Ir Amim web site


 We will continue to speak out, despite attempts to silence us:
The NGO political labeling law and an appeal for donations


Dear Friends: 


Last week, the Knesset passed a highly contentious law for labeling NGOs.
Ostensibly geared to increase transparency, this political law, sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), has nothing to do with transparency. Strict transparency requirements are well anchored in existing law, which already applies mainly to human rights organizations and social change organizations working towards social reform in Israel. What the new law does is to affix a political label and heighten the delegitimization campaign against organizations that work to strengthen democracy, promote fair solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and give voice to the least visible and most vulnerable groups in society.

See here for a brief summary of the law’s main points.

This law was not passed in a vacuum. It is but another distasteful measure that joins a series of bills and initiatives opposing legitimate social and political activity. Instead of engaging in debate and discussion, there are those who wish to silence critical voices and undermine the most basic values of democracy. Conversely, right wing organizations that receive tens and hundreds of millions of shekels per year from unnamed sources abroad and through shell companies, enjoy full confidentiality for their financial sources. The same MKs who pushed to pass the new law – ostensibly in the name of transparency – are the very ones who protect this confidentiality (for an example, see here). 

The harm caused by this new law to Israeli society as a whole is far more significant than the harm it stands to cause civil society organizations. In recent years, Israel’s status as a democracy has suffered ominous and troubling signs of erosion. The offensive against democracy has found expression in legislation aimed at silencing critical voices, reining in freedom of speech, infringing upon minority rights and weakening the standing of the Supreme Court. These initiatives are accompanied by a charged public atmosphere, violence, incitement and political persecution targeting minorities and social change and human rights organizations. A reality in which it is legitimate to defame and label organizations and individuals as acting against the state – including the president, the chief of staff, the (former) defense minister, artists, academics, intellectuals and others – due to their moral, social and/or political positions, poses real and grave damage to the foundations of Israeli society. 

Ir Amim, which is among the 27 organizations that will be directly affected by the new law, will not allow the law to influence its extensive activity to promote an agreed-upon political resolution and fair, sustainable life in Jerusalem as the home of two peoples. Ir Amim will continue to take action and speak out on behalf of a tolerant and stable Jerusalem, together with our partners in Israeli society, in East Jerusalem, and abroad. We look to your partnership along this path. This is the time to transform your long-standing interest and support into still more active participation, sharing and making your voice heard. In addition, we are asking that you make a contribution to Ir Amim. If you have already given to Ir Amim this year, we greatly appreciate your generosity, and ask that you consider increasing your contribution at this time. Work with us now to prove that these attacks on the fabric of Israeli democracy will not succeed, and that Ir Amim has firm moral and financial bases of support within civil society in Israel and abroad. We need you. 


With thanks for your continued interest and support, 

Yudith Oppenheimer, Executive Director of Ir Amim


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