JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli lawmaker who sponsored a bill to limit funding to left-leaning NGOs said Joseph McCarthy “was right in every word he said.”
Likud lawmaker Ofir Akunis told a political television show Sunday night that McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who presided over a U.S. Senate committee in the 1950s that investigated Americans suspected of sympathy with the communists, "was right in every word. The fact is, there were Soviet agents."
Akunis later told the Israeli daily Haaretz that he does not support McCarthyism and said he meant that McCarthy was right about Soviet agents infiltrating the United States.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the state of Israeli democracy, referring in particular to Akunis’ bill.
Akunis’ original bill would have banned political organizations in Israel from receiving donations of more than approximately $5,500 from foreign governments and international organizations. Its progress was frozen in the Knesset at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A new bill set to be taken up next week in the Knesset combines Akunis’ bill with another sponsored by the Yisrael Beiteinu party that would tax at a level of 45 percent foreign government donations to left-leaning NGOs. Organizations that receive Israeli government funding would be exempt from the tax.