Not for the first time, a New York Times editorial gets its facts wrong on Israel. In a single sentence, an editorial yesterday ("The Fading Two-State Solution") errs three times on a controversial Israeli bill which will be voted on tomorrow in its first reading in the Knesset. The Times states:
An odious bill introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would require activists to wear badges when they met government officials, and if groups received funds from foreign entities, they would have to declare it on all correspondence. The measure, which is clearly intended to intimidate government critics, is expected to pass the Knesset.
First, the bill would not require activists to wear badges when they meet government officials. The bill is available on the website of Israel's Justice Ministry. It mentions nothing about badges.
The clause which would have required representatives of organizations which receive over half their budgets from foreign governments to wear badges identifying themselves when speaking with ministers or visiting the Knesset had earlier been struck from the bill. As Haaretz reported on Jan. 20 ("'Softened' Version of Controversial NGO Bill Forgoes ID Tags in Knesset," screen capture of headline below):
The cabinet has filed a toned-down version of the so-called "NGO transparency bill," the latest legislative endeavor to cause Israel trouble in global circles.
The softened version accepts one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's two demands, and does not include the original requirement that representatives of NGOs receiving foreign funding wear special badges in Knesset (and when visiting ministries too).
Second, the editorial wrongly states: "if groups received funds from foreign entities, they would have to declare it on all correspondence." The bill would not apply broadly to "groups [which] received funds from foreign entities." It applies to organizations which receive the bulk of their funding from foreign governments. As Haaretz correctly reported:
Upon its enactment into law, assuming it passes, the duty of transparency will apply to any association or organization that received most of its funding in the last fiscal year, or the one before it, from donations received from "foreign diplomatic entities," as such are defined in law.
Third, the bill would not require such organizations to declare their funding from foreign governments on "all correspondence" (emphasis added). It would require the organizations to declare their foreign government funding on public communications and publications, including published financial reports, and on private correspondence to government officials. It would not require disclosure in private correspondence to those who aren't government officials or employees. Again, Haaretz accurately reports:
The NGOs will have to disclose which nations exactly donated money to them in any publication through billboards, the media, television, Internet or the press, and in all communications to elected officials or government officials. Representatives of the NGOs will also have to cite the information that their organizations received foreign funding during any discussion of which minutes are kept.
CAMERA has contacted editors to request corrections. Stay tuned for an update.
Jan. 25 Update: International New York Times Runs Error-Ridden Editorial
The day after receiving information from CAMERA about the errors concerning the NGO bill, editors published the editorial again, together with the errors, in today's International New York Times.