The current issue of Democracy Journal has an article by Suzanne Nossel, described in the byline as a former COO of Human Rights Watch and former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, dealing with confronting efforts of authoritarian regimes to suppress civil society. This is an altogether important issue. However, in the second paragraphy, Nossel writes, "... as well as democracies like Israel, India, and Turkey, have gone on the attack, aiming to discredit and harass local groups," thus likening Israel to the pseudodemocracy of Turkey where the opposition is free to run whatever candidates it likes, but is restricted by government decree in disseminating why the public should support it. While it is unsurprising that a former executive from Amnesty and HRW would seek to leverage any legitimate issue in order to bash Israel, there is a part of her article that is worth a look.
Later on in the article, Nossel writes:
For all these reasons, civil society has become both more important and more dangerous in the eyes of governments. So much so that authorities in China, Azerbaijan, Russia, and elsewhere have constituted government-controlled entities that pose as NGOs (so-called GONGOs or government-organized NGOs) with the objective of claiming the mantle of citizen-based credibility in order to defend government positions.So it would seem that Nossel opposes governmental use of NGOs in order to give a civil society-veneer for the government's agenda. However, previously we read,
serious concerns with a proposed Israeli law that would require NGOs receiving substantial foreign funding to announce the same at any public gathering where they appear.One factual point that must be made clear, Israeli-staffed NGOs receiving their budgets from foreign private entities will face no new disclosure requirements. The entities that will be required to disclose their funding sources will be those receiving their funds from foreign governments, in other words the GONGOs.
This raises the questions, when does Ms. Nossel, and her fellows at HRW and Amnesty, consider public endowment of GONGOs to be a perversion of civil society that simply provides an astroturf fig leaf for governmental action and is support for GONGOs to be praised with every attempt to expose it to be condemned? Could it be that when GONGOs are a weapon in the war to delegitimize Israel that everything about their perversion of civil society should be ignored in order to fulfill the world's most pressing priority, putting uppity Jews in their place?