State NGO Watchdog Raps Settler Organization That Compared Europeans to Nazis
Registrar of Associations passes findings on Samaria Residents’ Council to Attorney General. NGO exceeded stated objectives, report says.
The Registrar of Associations has reprimanded the Samaria Residents’ Council, a right wing nonprofit group supported by public funds through the Samaria Regional Council, determining that it exceeded its stated objectives. As part of its investigation of claims that the group’s publications encourage hate crimes and creating public disturbances, the registrar determined that the group had not denied these activities.
The registrar also found financial irregularities and asked the group to provide additional explanations to the partial documentation it had submitted. The registrar has sent its findings to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. It noted, “If the group does not accede to these demands, the registrar will consider taking legal action, including a request for dissolution of this group.”
The summary of the investigation notes that the group is supposed to promote education towards settling the land, yet it was involved in unrelated activities and incidents that led to complaints by Molad, the Center for Renewal of Israeli Democracy.
Among the complaints was one purporting that the group was disseminating material encouraging the commission of hate crimes, known as “price tag,” including “creating disturbances and establishment of unauthorized outposts. There were also calls for hampering army operations, praise for torching [Palestinian] fields and property and for assaulting Palestinians.”
The registrar also noted complaints about the inflammatory video clip during the last Knesset elections, in which a left-wing activist was shown cooperating with a Nazi figure. The clip ends with the activist hanging himself to please the German-accented figure. The registrar listed other activities that lie outside the purview of the group’s stated objectives, including “plans to create public disturbances and block roads, with detailed maps and instructions intended to ensure hampering security forces.”
NGO: Our actions against left are legit
The registrar rebuked the council for its conduct, noting that “a nonprofit group cannot undertake activities that are outside its registered goals, even if it believes they are of public importance.” The council did not deny its involvement in these activities, stating that its “actions against left-wing organizations trying to destroy settlements are part of our objectives, since these include promoting settlement of the land. This also applies to opposition to demolition of settlements or to those who boycott them in one way or another.”
The registrar asked the group to “produce a signed commitment that it would operate according to approved objectives,” stressing that most of the group’s activities conformed to its approved objectives.
The group claimed that if some activities had exceeded approved objectives, these were under the responsibility of a former director who was no longer with them. However, the registrar cast doubt on this, since this person died in 2013 from a serious illness.
The registrar criticized the way in which documentation was provided, with no report of the group’s activities in 2015. This prevented the examination of whether over the last two years it had abided by its terms. He ordered the council to produce this report, as well as one covering the first half of 2016.
The registrar further listed a number of financial irregularities. He asked for clarifications regarding donations from another nonprofit group, from religious seminaries and colleges, stating that there were no details or explanations regarding sources of revenue. Reporting did not coincide with documents that were provided, with contradictions in some of the reporting. There was also insufficient detailing of expenses, with bookkeeping falling behind.
In its summary, the registrar noted, “The council’s responses were laconic and partial, with no attachment of documentation that the group was requested to provide. The council must respond in detail to all the demands made of it.”
The registrar’s investigation followed a complaint filed by Molad. Liat Schlesinger, head of the research center’s investigative department, said in response to this summary that the Samaria Residents’ Council “is an example of public funds used by settlers to promote political goals and actions against IDF soldiers and the state’s security. We expect state authorities to treat this matter seriously in order to prevent subversive elements from undermining Israel’s stability and security.”
The Samaria settlers’ council responded, stating, “The group operates according to its principles, which have been guiding it for years. We’ll continue our activity against extreme left-wing groups, against demolition of houses in settlements, against a prolonged halt to construction, against forging elections in the Arab sector and using public transportation by both Palestinian laborers and Jewish passengers and against government companies that don’t provide services to Judea and Samaria’s hundreds of thousands of residents. We’ll continue to encourage people to join us and to protect soldiers from extreme leftist groups such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.”