The Jan. 14 editorial, “A ‘cure’ worse than the ‘malady,’” seems to suggest that NGOs are necessary for a functioning democracy. But all rights have their limits, even free speech.
We have the Foreign Agents Registration Act “to insure that the U.S. Government and the people of the United States are informed of the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of persons attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws.” It is quite similar to the law that Israel is considering. Or at least Ambassador Shapiro was unable to articulate any distinction. The UK is considering legislation almost identical to Israel’s for the same reasons. Israel’s proposed legislation seeks to reveal their funding sources, not curtail their operations as in Egypt.
One must ask, what purpose do NGOs serve? The trappings of a democracy? The enforcement of international law? Whatever it is they are supposed to do, it has to be weighed against its risk. “In 1938, FARA was Congress’ response to the large number of German propaganda agents in the pre-WWII U.S.,” according to the FARA website. The U.S. didn’t descend into a maelstrom of immorality.
NGOs seem to have the agenda of broadcasting Israel’s wrongs while ignoring offenses by the Palestinians. This translates into political pressure on Israel but also adds to growing anti-Semitism worldwide, especially in the EU, not only directed against Israel but even against Jewish school children who must study in secured compounds, behind thick walls, and protected by guards. It is all of a piece and disgraceful.
Robert M. Braun