Legal Questions Raised About NGO Funding Judicial Reform Protests

Blue and White Future is hiding its original goals. Its current funding of judicial reform protests raises questions whether it has violated Israeli law.

Nonprofit organization Blue and White Future hauled in over 27 million NIS to fund protests against the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform legislation. This organization was established in 2009, many years before judicial reform was on the legislative agenda. The stated goals of this organization are to promote a two-state solution or a one-sided separation from the Palestinians. But as protests against the judicial reform continue, Blue and White Future is doing all it can to hide its original goals. Furthermore, its massive fundraising of protests against judicial reform legislation is raising questions about whether it has violated its legal status as a nonprofit organization.

The fundraising engine behind the judicial reform protests

Anyone interested in contributing to the protest against the judicial reform has been directed in recent months to donate through an organization called ‘Blue and White Future‘. This nonprofit organization provides the financial and organizational infrastructure for various protest groups such as ‘Brothers in Arms’. It is responsible for the “must resist” campaign that has been splashed on billboards across the country for the past few weeks. It is also behind the financing of a significant part of the protest’s field activities, transportation, and advertising, as well as supplying protest equipment and paraphernalia.

According to the crowdfunding campaign of ‘Free in our country‘, the organization’s conduit for raising funds, it is the “exclusive and official body that includes and finances about 150 different protest centers throughout the country” and supports “about 200 protest groups,” among others “doctors, architects, lawyers, economists, the high-tech industry, veterans of the defense establishment, students, military training schools and more.”

The budgets collected by the NGO is intended for “buses, stages, signs, flags, amplification equipment and screens, safety and authority approvals, branded clothing and more”, for “special projects – demonstrations in front of the houses of members of the Knesset, marches and the Democracy Outpost in Jerusalem, the shutdown of the economy”, and to “put banners balconies, bridges and billboards across the country”. For these purposes, the association has raised more than NIS 27 million in recent months.

Blue and White Future hides its real purpose

On various fundraising pages, Blue and White Future is described as an NGO “established with the aim of promoting democratic values ​​in Israel” and that the current battle is to stop Israel from becoming a dictatorship, as a result of the judicial reform. This portrayal of the organization is actually false..

Blue and White Future NGO was founded well before judicial reform became a prominent topic of discussion. Its establishment took place in November 2009, a few months subsequent to the Likud’s electoral triumph and Netanyahu’s return to power.

The goals of the NGO, as stated in the organization’s documents from its inception until today, were completely different: “To strengthen and highlight the public support for the two-state solution for two peoples, Israel as a national home for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian nation in order to preserve the nature of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” That is, the NGO was established in order to promote a political agenda, and specifically the idea of ​​two states for two peoples. A close look at the organization’s activities over the years, including on its website and now on its Facebook page, will see that this is indeed the central issue it has engaged in.

The heads of the organization, high-tech entrepreneur Orni Petrushka, head of the Shin Bet and former minister Ami Ayalon and attorney Gilad Sher, ran various projects to promote separation from the Palestinians. For example, in the “Our Solution” section on the organization’s website, a typical left-wing political vision is presented:

“The political goal is based on the Zionist vision of Israel as the democratic state of the Jewish people. This goal requires separation from the Palestinians, while striving for a peaceful and amicable relations with a Palestinian state that will be established alongside the State of Israel.”

If this does not happen, Israel will itself initiate separation along the lines of secession. They present the program as “a new paradigm for the political process of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” On the organization’s Facebook page, you can also find content in a similar spirit: opposition to the Trump plan, criticism of the Netanyahu governments, and the like. The latest updates on the page are from 2020 and all deal with policy issues.

The organization’s financial doucments also detail its activity in the political arena. Its main activity in 2021 was described as continuing “to promote the reality of two states for two peoples and strengthen Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state.” Clearly , the “democratic” aspect of the association’s activity is an outcome of the political initiative. To prevent damage to democracy, the Jewish majority must be preserved by separating from the Palestinians.

Large amounts of money flowing to Blue and White Future

In the last six months, there has been a dramatic change in Blue and White Future’s operations. It has practically become a protest funding and organizational infrastrcuture. The activities and publications that the organiazation finances deal exclusively with legal reform and the protest movement, while the political issue is off the agenda. Moreover, the various speakers at the protests do their best to hide the political issue and describe the struggle as purely “civilian.”.

This was stated in the organization’s latest financial report: “Since January 2023, the organization has expanded its activities to strengthen Israel’s democratic character. Blue and White Future helped the fight for democracy that intensified following the government’s plan for a fundamental change in the legal system, the rule of law and law enforcement. During this period, the volume of the organization’s activity increased, and included, among other things, significant donations, employment of workers, payments to suppliers, legal advice, and promoting cooperation with other bodies of civil society.”

This is also reflected in the scope of financial activity. While it was engaged in promoting the two-state solution, as stated in its official goals, the association managed fairly modest financial cycles: 500 thousand NIS in 2018 (about $145,000); 220 thousand NIS in 2019 (about $60,000); An unusual amount of five million NIS in 2020 ($1.45 million), apparently due to the Trump plan and the election campaigns; and then a decrease again: 1.8 million NIS in 2021 ($500,000) and 800 thousand NIS in 2022 ($225,000). In other words, the political issue brings in an average of one million NIS.

In the last six months, as mentioned, Blue and White Future raised over NIS 27 million in a crowdfunding campaign. This is aside from donations raised through other channels and we are only half way through 2023. A massive increase in fundraising

Is Blue and White Future violating Israeli law?

These activities, which have become the main and central activity of the organization in recent months, constitute a substantial deviation from the original goals of “strengthening and highlighting public support for the two-state solution for two peoples”, and therefore may constitute a violation of the law and the conditions of the Registrar of Associations in Israel.

Registration as a non-profit organization confers benefits in its management, including exemption from corporate tax and other rules applicable to business companies. Blue and White Future does not include Article 46, which grants tax exemption to its donors, but operating as a nonprofit organization has many financial advantages. Since Blue and White Future receives many benefits from the state for being registered as a certain type of organization, it is important that the organization operate in accordance with the laws that govern them.

Apparently, Blue and White Future, which has been used in recent months as a protest funding operation, is operating outside of its stated goals. Despite this, it seems that it has not reported these changes to the Registrar of Associations. This raises questions about whether an organization founded to promote the two-state solution can suddenly evolve into one fighting for the privileges of the Supreme Court? And how will the Registrar of Associations act in the face of this exception? We will continue to cover this story..

Mida reached out to Blue and White Future to respond to this article, but they chose not to respond. Additionally, there was no response from The Register of Associations in Israel prior to the publication of the article, though they later said that the matter would be looked into.

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