Open Zion

05.22.13

NGO Monitor's Selective Attacks on Groups Opposed to U.S. Policies

The right-wing Israeli group NGO Monitor is very, very concerned with the possibility that some non-governmental groups that have received money from the U.S. government do work that stands in opposition to U.S. policies. So concerned, in fact, that NGO Monitor went and drafted a report about it and, this week, presented that report to the U.S. Congress. The report says, "In many cases, these NGO activities directly contradict American policies in support of peace efforts." In its recommendations, the report says that "potential recipients should be evaluated for consistency with U.S. policy." It should be noted that these NGO's targeted by NGO Monitor—which casts a wide array of activities as "anti-Israel"—don't necessarily use the U.S. government funding to work at cross purposes with the U.S. government, but rather engage in these activities outside those programs supposed by donor cash.

This all makes sense: it's completely reasonable for the U.S. government to take a careful look at groups that get benefits from it but work in direct opposition to its goals and policies. Here's one example you probably won't see NGO Monitor doing a report about: 

As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.

New York Times examination of public records in the United States and Israel identified at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade.

That's a three-year-old Times article, one that thoroughly demonstrates how U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing activities—namely, settlement growth—that, in NGO Monitor's words, "directly contradict American policies in support of peace efforts." In fact, the U.S. government considers settlement growth "illegitimate"—that's quite a step beyond NGO Monitor's complaints that some groups funded by the U.S. government contradict U.S. policy. The Times's investigative work even showed that some of these U.S. charities were going way farther than transgressing American policy and were giving direct aid to "outpost" settlements considered illegal under Israeli law.

Shouldn't the benefits to pro-settlement groups, too, be re-evaluated? And yet NGO Monitor hasn't seized upon the source material to launch a campaign. That's because when they worry about "delegitimization," NGO Monitor is content to ignore those instances when Israel delegitimizes itself.