Hillary Clinton recently expressed concern about the future of Israeli democracy because the Knesset is considering curtailing foreign governments’ funding for Israeli NGOs, and because some rabbis in Israel say they want men and women to seat separately on buses. Does Hillary realize how hypocritical she is? In the United States, NGOs that receive money from foreign governments are considered foreign agents. And why is separate sitting between men and women on “haredi” buses a threat to democracy in Israel but not in New York (a common practice in Clinton’s home state)?
Less than six months ago (in July 2011), the FBI arrested Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a US citizen accused by the US Department of Justice of not informing the US government that he was in the pay of Pakistan while lobbying for the Kashmir cause and donating funds to Congressmen. Fai, who is director of the Washington-based NGO Kashmiri American Council (KAC), allegedly received millions of dollars for the KAC over the last two decades. Fai is accused of a decades-long scheme with one purpose – to hide Pakistan’s involvement behind his efforts to influence the US government’s position on Kashmir. His handlers in Pakistan allegedly funneled millions through the Kashmir Center to contribute to US elected officials, fund high-profile conferences, and pay for other efforts that promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington. If found guilty, Fai could face up to five years in prison.
US law states that any American citizen or organization that receives money from foreign governments must register as a foreign agent. The foreign agent must report all its income and spending, and the Attorney General can demand, at any time, the list of the agent’s donors. Many Israeli NGOs receive money from foreign governments in order to influence the policy of Israel’s government. In the United States, such NGOs would have to register as foreign agents, and their books would be scrutinized by the Government. Why is the United States, a super-power no longer threatened by communism, entitled to take self-protecting measures from political NGOs funded by foreign governments, but not Israel, a tiny country that faces existential threats?
Clinton is making a fool of herself because she is buying into the propaganda of the English version of Ha’aretz. This radical newspaper read by 1% of the Israeli population (it prints 70,000 copies a day for a population of 7 million) is the Bible of foreign journalists and diplomats –the very people who write about Israel and who report to their capitals. Clinton is not the only victim of the “Ha’aretz effect.” A few months ago, President Sarkozy said that a state cannot be Jewish just like a table cannot be Catholic. He was repeating almost word by word what Amos Oz regularly writes in Ha’aretz.
Ha’aretz has been writing that it is undemocratic to curtail foreign governments’ funding for Israeli NGOs bent on influencing the policies of Israel’s government; that only in autocracies and in third world countries do the executive and legislative branches have a say on the appointment of Supreme Court Justices; and that fining journalists for lying intentionally is contrary to the freedom of speech. Ha’aretz knows that it is writing nonsense, but its ideological agenda comes before the truth. Hillary Clinton obviously knows that in her country Supreme Court Judges are appointed by the President and that organizations that receive funding from foreign governments have to register as foreign agents. Is Clinton simply being hypocritical, or is she orchestrating a campaign against the Netanyahu Government, just like her husband did when he was President?
The second possibility does make sense, since Tzipi Livni was quick to come to Hillary Clinton’s defense. Livni justified Clinton’s statements despite the fact that Clinton went as far as to compare Israel to Iran –or maybe because of it: after all, Livni is about to lose her job as Kadima’s Chair to the Iranian-born Shaul Mofaz. The problem with reciting the content of Ha’aretz and of The New York Times is that it makes you look smart in front Ha’aretz and New York Times readers (the kind of people who attend the Saban Forum), but it also makes you look like a fool in front of the rest of the world.
The fact that Livni expressed support for Clinton’s obnoxious and cretinous comments goes to show that Clinton and Livni deserve each other. But it also goes to show that both Israel and America deserve better.