Israeli Government Wants to Defund Independent Magazine

Israel has requested the German government stop left-leaning political foundations from funding +972 Magazine, according to a Thursday report by Die Tageszeitung.

The complaint came in the form of a seven-page letter, without sender or signature. It requested that the German government “fundamentally rethink” its support for human rights organizations in Israel.

The letter accused the German government of promoting “non-governmental organizations [to] intervene in Israel’s internal affairs or promote anti-Israel activities.” The letter specifically named +972 Magazine, since “the authors regularly accuse Israel of apartheid.”

Other organizations that were targeted by the letter are the Coalition of Women for Peace, Breaking the Silence and church aid organizations like Bread for the World. Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs has denied sending the letter.

The magazine is an independent news website that reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has done so for eight years. +972 Magazine is operated by its parent nonprofit“972 – Advancement of Citizen Journalism,” which launched in 2011 and was established by Israeli and Palestinian journalists and bloggers. The magazine’s “About” page reads, “our collective is committed to human rights and freedom of information, and we oppose the occupation.”

The contributions of the German Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Rosa Luxemborg Foundation, the two referenced in the Israeli letter, make up only nine percent of +972’s 2018 budget since September. The magazine mostly profits from reader donations and their website lists all contributions from all sources since the inception of the website.

This is not the first time Israel has made moves to curtail criticism, according to the report by Die Tageszeitung.

“Unfortunately, we have been seeing for some time that the pressure on government-critical NGOs in Israel and Palestine is increasing,” said a spokesperson of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. “[An attack on] a critical magazine like +972, which reflects Israel’s diversity of opinion, is also an attack on the well-known journalists of Israel.”

Despite the pressure, both the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Rosa Luxemborg Foundation have pledged their continued support for +972 Magazine.

“We at +972 Magazine have never believed that the Israeli government was a supporter of our work, and we will continue to conduct fierce, independent journalism determined to end the occupation and advance human rights and democratic values in Israel-Palestine,” wrote +972. “Knowing once and for all that the Israeli government would rather we not exist only makes us more determined to carry out that mission.”

The magazine is running a crowdfunding campaign to ensure that their reporting can continue.

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