Thursday, 8 December 2011

If the roles were reversed...

Israel's Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, has reportedly said ( that the so-called NGO bill is unconstitutional and restricts freedom of expression.

This bill (which comes not from the government, but from a couple of backbenchers) has been much exercising the minds of those of my friends who still read the Guardian. It basically seeks to restrict foreign government funding for various Israeli NGOs, some of which receive a lot of their income from foreign governments - including the British Government. A just, peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict is a key aim of UK foreign policy, so our government funds Israeli NGOs that it sees as working to bring such a resolution about. Some of this funding is given in concert with some British Jewish and pro-Israeli groups.

What's interesting is that many people (myself included) often take it for granted that it is reasonable for the UK to work towards ending other people's conflicts. Should we take it for granted? How would we feel if foreign governments were funding MigrationWatch? Or the Taxpayers Alliance? Or if Iran had a Department for International Development that funded the Stop the War Coalition? It is surely worth asking ourselves that question.


  1. Matthew does the British Government in fact know who does fund the Stop the War Coalition?
    The UK Government funds B'tselem which was responsible for providing much of the questionable "evidence" provided to the discredited Goldstone report which the Foreign Office has refused to disassociate itself from despite the misgivings of judge Goldstone himself to some of the report's findings.

  2. Thank you. When I asked how British people would feel "if Iran had a Department for International Development that funded the (UK's) Stop the War Coalition", I was asking a rhetorical question. I strongly disagree with Stop the War on pretty much everything, but I do not believe that they are funded by the Government of Iran. Stop the War says on its website: "Stop the War is funded entirely by contributions from our supporters, either through donations or membership subscriptions."

    For B'tselem's side of the story on the points that you raise, please see: