Haaretz reports: The leader of the Reform movement in the U.S. warned Sunday, in an exclusive interview with Haaretz, of the damage anti-democratic laws will have on Diaspora Jews and Israel alike.
“The anti-democratic laws that have passed, or that are expected to pass, in the Knesset are not bad only for Israel. These laws could have a catastrophic impact on relations between Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora – especially American Jews,” warned Rabbi Eric Yoffie.
“Commitment to shared moral values and to democracy is what binds Jews to Israel. Without this commitment, ties between the two largest Jewish communities – Israel and America – will be greatly weakened.”
The proposed non-governmental organizations law seeks to limit contributions from abroad – especially from Europe – to non-profit and human rights organizations that operate in Israel.
One of the controversial bills, sponsored by Likud MK Ofir Akunis, would bar political NGOs from accepting more than NIS 20,000 from foreign governments or international bodies such as the United Nations. The second bill, authored by Yisrael Beitenu MK Faina Kirshenbaum, would force all organizations not funded by the Israeli government to pay a 45-percent tax on all donations from foreign states.
Yoffie cautioned that these laws, should they be passed, would cause “tremendous” damage to Israel. “When rabbis and Jewish leaders speak in communities and synagogues about the Jewish State, what they emphasize, with great pride, is Israel’s democratic character. But what will they say if these anti-democratic laws are approved in the Knesset?”
Rabbi Eric Yoffie is about to retire from his position after 16 years as the head of the Reform movement, which is considered the largest of the four streams of American Judaism.
“Non-governmental organizations are an important and valued component of civil society in America, and I view an attack on Israeli NGOs as exceedingly serious,” said Yoffie. “How can it be that Irving Moscowitz and Sheldon Adelson pour money into Israel for political purposes, and so do Evangelical Christian groups, but money coming from abroad to assist leftwing and human rights organizations in Israel is suddenly forbidden?”