Baruch ponders Israel’s position on the “Road to Venezuela”. A year ago, Hugo Chavez’ government outlawed all human rights NGOs, citing their potential to be influenced by “hostile foreign powers”. This year, members of the Knesset are pondering a law that would force all human rights NGOs with foreign funding to reveal the identity of their donors to the government (something no other NGOs are required to do), for fear that they might be funded by terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, pro-settler NGOs would face no such requirement, despite the extremist entities that have been known to fund them, and the sometimes-violent history of the settler movement. Baruch calls this a double-standard, and a case where the Israeli government might be compromising the democratic nature of the country by intentionally restricting certain organizations for political gain.
Baruch also discussed the recent demand by Turkey for an apology from the Israeli government for the death of nine individuals on a Turkish boat that participated in last year’s aid flotilla to Gaza. Baruch points out that Israel is faced with a dilemma; on one hand, an admission of guilt would leave the Israeli government open to lawsuits from the victims’ families. On the other hand, Israel is in desperate need of international allies, and Turkey is in a very flexible position where its support could be vital to Israel, should it be lent.