J Street, a far-left lobbying group which calls itself “pro-Israel” has a select appreciation for the value of transparency. Consider its statements in the recent past:
On October 23, 2015, the group stated: “J Street congratulates delegates to the World Zionist Congress for overwhelmingly approving a resolution requiring the institutions it oversees to provide Jewish communities around the world with comprehensive and accurate information on their budget, finances and activities.
This was an important vote for democracy and accountability. Jews in Israel and around the world should know where the money they raise to support the State of Israel is invested. They should know that these funds are spent in ways consistent with Jewish values and in a manner that advances Israel’s future as a secure democratic homeland of the Jewish people.
For too long, the actions of vital institutions like the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization have operated in secrecy, cloaked in deliberate confusion. Investigations have raised serious concerns about corruption. Meanwhile, some of these organizations, under the direction of the Government of Israel, have funneled funds to strengthen settlements in the West Bank at the expense of needy communities within Israel’s 1967 boundaries…. This massive support shows that financial transparency is something Jews around the world can unite around.”
J Street seemed particularly happy with the notion of clearly showing the flow of funds at organizations as it promoted “democracy,” “accountability” and “transparency.”
However, if the transparency of the flow of funds came against parties J Street supported, like those that opposed settlements, J Street reversed its opinion.
On December 28, 2015, J Street condemned the Israeli government for a bill that would provide financial transparency of NGOs (non-governmental governmental organizations):
“J Street is deeply concerned and disappointed by the Israeli cabinet’s decision Sunday to send to the Knesset for approval a one-sided bill aimed at restricting the work of progressive non-governmental organizations which monitor human rights and oppose the occupation…. The bill, which was introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Jewish Home party, would create a series of onerous new requirements that aim to demonize and discredit progressive organizations. Under the guise of “transparency,” these groups would have to identify themselves as foreign agents on the grounds that they receive the majority of their funding from foreign governments. Meanwhile, right-wing organizations, which receive significant funding from private foreign entities, would be free to continue to funnel money to West Bank settlements and to other anti-democratic causes without being subject to the same requirements.”
Somehow, J Street likes transparency in some situations, while not in others.
The group claims that the bill only targets progressive groups, but that is not the case at all. All NGOs, whether left-wing or right-wing, would be forced to declare if they received the majority of their funding from foreign governments. All NGOs funded by private foreign entities – left-wing ones like George Soros’s Open Society, or right-wing groups – would not need to declare if that they were foreign entities.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and current MK (Kulanu) Michael Oren believes that the bill to provide transparency would hurt Israel’s ties to the United States. He suggested including labels for private donations as well as governmental donations. “You either have transparency, or you don’t.”
Perhaps a solution to meet everyone’s goals on transparency would be to label groups funded by foreign governments “Foreign Entities,” and those sponsored by private foreign money “Internationally Sponsored.”
J Street is always keen to expose, highlight and label Jews living in Judea and Samaria and those that support them. As it states on its website: “Communal institutions should provide full transparency to supporters regarding the source, amount and purpose of funds transferred through their accounts to institutions and programs on the West Bank.“
That is why J Street also supports removing the “Made in Israel” label of products made in the “West Bank,” and using a distinct label of products as being “Made in the West Bank.”
Just don’t make J Street or its supporters provide transparency itself on its foreign funding.
Note: To learn more about which organizations and countries support the various lobbying and activist groups, go to NGO-Monitor. For example, the anti-Zionism group Adalah received money from: Switzerland; Belgium; Netherlands; Germany; Sweden; Denmark; the EU as detailed here.
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