The New Israel Fund’s misplaced generosity

June 22, 2018 by Professor Bill Rubinstein
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The New Israel Fund (NIF) has been much in the news lately, with its supporters here holding high profile meetings in Sydney and Melbourne…writes Bill Rubinstein.

Professor Bill Rubinstein

It exists “to strengthen and expand the pro-democracy progressive forces in Israel,” and to combat what it describes as “the erosion of Israeli democracy.” To many, it will seem chutzpah for an organisation based largely in the Diaspora (its headquarters is in New York), and composed of self-appointed, unelected activists, and funded in part by wealthy, tax-exempt American foundations, to criticise the “erosion of democracy” in Israel   ̶  where any political party that receives even three per cent of the vote secures a seat in the Knesset, a body in which eleven parties are currently represented, and where the Arab “Joint List” party currently has the third-highest number of seats.  But such is their claim.

There are indeed some goals of the NIF which would probably enjoy fairly widespread support, such as its campaigns to reform the laws concerning agunot, or to secure more rights for non-Orthodox Jews in Israel.  If that is all there was to the NIF, few outside of Charedi  circles would criticise it, or even know that the organisation exists.  But, sadly, this is only the start, not the finish. I will comment only briefly on the NIF’s most high profile recent campaigns, on behalf of illegal immigrants in Israel threatened with deportation, and against the use of force at the Gaza border. None of the Diaspora members of the NIF have the slightest intention of moving to the high crime areas of south Tel Aviv, where most of the illegals live, but   ̶  as is typically the case   ̶  are only too happy to be liberal so long as someone else faces the consequences.  As to the Gaza border violence, if 100,000 Mexican fanatics had massed on America’s southern border with the explicit aim of taking California and Texas back for Mexico, I doubt if Donald Trump would sit on his hands, or Hillary Clinton either if she had been elected.

But it gets even worse.  What I should like to highlight here are the vast sums of money that the NIF has handed out to radical organisations in recent years, an aspect of its activities which has received too little coverage.  The most comprehensive source of information about the NIF’s left-wing largesse can be found on website NGO Monitor‘s “New Israel Fund” online exposé, and on the various links highlighted on that site.  NGO Monitor (“NGO” is for Non-Government Organisations), headed by Gerald M. Steinberg, does an invaluable and unique job, based on extensive research, of exposing anti-Israel advocacy groups around the world.

As it notes, the NIF has, since 1977, handed out no less than US $300million to various liberal and left-wing bodies, chiefly in Israel.  Many of the sources of its funding are opaque, and the NIF is not registered with the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, although it is known that the NIF receives funding from American foundations and from European government bodies.  As will be seen when individual cases are discussed, the sums it hands out are not exactly peanuts, and may well be highly significant in keeping these radical bodies afloat. The NGO Monitor’s report on the NIF contains so many groan-worthy examples of its generosity, that one can only highlight a handful of the more egregious examples.

Between 2008 and 2016 the NIF donated US $2,044,000 to Adalah, which describes itself as the “Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”.  In 2007 Adalah published a “Democratic Constitution” for a reformulated State of Israel, which would be transformed into a “democratic, bilingual, and multicultural state”.  According to this Constitution, “The State of Israel must recognize its responsibility for past injustices suffered by the Palestinian people …[ It] must recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees based on UN Resolution 194 … and withdraw from all of the territories occupied in 1967.” “The borders of the State of Israel are the borders of the territory which was subject to Israeli law until 5 June 1967.” Kiss the Old City of Jerusalem goodbye  ̶ it would  become part of an independent Palestinian state, to be established  entirely apart from the new “multicultural” Israel.  “No bill,” its proposed Constitution goes on, “will be approved by the plenum of the Knesset if 75% of the members of the Knesset who belong to parties which by their definition are Arab parties … vote against it.”  Furthermore, “Every resident or citizen whose land has been expropriated … because of his or her Arab nationality … is entitled to have his or her property restored”  ̶   and so on, through 63 clauses of like ilk in this proposed Constitution, funded by your NIF.

Another beneficiary of the NIF’s endless bounty is the organisation “Jews For Human Rights  ̶Israel,” which benefitted to the tune of US $1,470,000 between 2008 and 2016. According to NGO Monitor, ‘While using the name “Physicians,” half of the 1500 claimed members and a number of key staff are not medical professionals’.  This body was described in 2009 by Dr Yoram Blachar, President of the World Medical Association, as ‘a radical political group disguised as a medical organization’.  NGO Monitorstated of its report on “Gaza 2014” that “The report provides no proof or evidence for the serious charges contained within it. The report contains fundamental methodological flaws, ignores Hamas violations, and relies on “experts” that have demonstrated anti-Israel bias’.  Another of its reports, “Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim,” published in 2011, was denounced by the Israel Medical Association as “a highly selective publication [which] erased important details.”

Yet another of the many groups for which (as it were) Christmas came early, thanks to the never-failing generosity of the NIF, is +972 Magazine, an online English language blog (its title refers to Israel’s telephone code), which received US $235,000 from the NIF between 2011 and 2016. In May 2012 that site published a cartoon depicting Benjamin Netanyahu raping Barak Obama and eating his limbs.  In July 2011 columnist Yosi Gurvitz claimed, according to NGO Monitor, ‘that Israelis were full of “glee” over [Norwegian mass murderer] Anders Breivik,”‘and blamed this on the “dehumanizing effects of Jewish orthodox education.” On +972 Magazine, according to the same analysis, ‘Writers regularly invoke the Durban vocabulary, accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “racism,” “discrimination’ [and] perpetrating another Nakba.”

Dozens of other similar examples from dozens of other radical bodies  kept in the black in part by the NIF’s pile of cash are cited in NGO Monitor’sonline report, which is doing precisely what the NIF wants, providing outstanding investigative journalism to enhance Israeli democracy.

(Bill Rubinstein has taught at Deakin University and at the University of Wales.)

Comments

6 Responses to “The New Israel Fund’s misplaced generosity”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Bruno Kreisky, whom I previously mentioned, was similar in character to NIF in a way that the following will illustrate:
    when Jews from the Soviet Union desperately needed a conduit to sanctuary, Bruno, the antisemite of Jewish ancestry, refused to allow them to pass through Austria. He rebuffed the pleas of the then Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir.
    He cared about people..as long as…they were not Jews.

    Incidentally, when speaking about the late Menachem Begin, PM of Israel, Bruno’s tone was overtly antisemitic.

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    I wonder how many supporters of NIF are so-called “left-wing” opponents of Israel’s existence, like the late Bruno Kreisky, the Jew by ancestry, who was Socialist PM of Austria; and how many are “useful idiots” who are blinded by NIF’s stated goals, but blind to its real goals.

    NIF paraded the pathetic “Breaking the Silence” slanderers, but I bet it would never invite ” Reservists on Duty,” a group of Israeli soldiers who refute the slanders of the NIF propaganda proteges.

  3. Gary Luke says:

    NIF bonds itself with organusations which promote genocide of Israel. What else does anyone need to say? Which side do you butter your bread? Are you Jewish or Jew-ish?

  4. MIchael Burd says:

    I have been monitoring this wolf in sheeps clothing insidious organization for years and can not understand who in Australia is funding them considering they have boasted they have so much cash available to them.
    Their followers are deluded if they think they support Israel and support NIF / Breaking the Silence etc they are foolish and ignorant if they really believe they are .

    https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/09/04/shame-on-donors-to-the-new-israel-fund/
    https://www.ngo-monitor.org/funder/new_israel_fund/
    https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports
    /analysis_of_new_israel_fund_nif_funding_for_divisive_campaigns_/

    http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/new-israel-fund-is-not-a-pro-israel-organization/2015/03/15/

    http://observer.com/2014/11/new-israel-fund-supports-groups-that-hurt-the-jewish-state/

    • Paul Winter says:

      Shhh Michael! We must not speak against the NIF because it breaks with the communal solidarity enforced by our leadership (?). When I asked how the first NIF president was elected president of the NDWJBD which has in its constitution that it is Zionistic I was told something to the effect that as a Jew he had every right to be elected. Another time I raised an issue of the NIF’s activities, I was told to direct my enquiries to the NIF. The most frustrating aspect of this issue (and so too with multiculturalism, support for same sex marriage, making suicide a Jewish communal issue, etc.) is that members come up to me in private and say the support my speaking out, but they won’t support me openly. Its very sad. And perhaps saddest of all is the the JBD complains that the activities of AJA are counterproductive, ignoring the underlying frustration with clever dealing which ignores the very principles our community proclaims and endorses. The NIF, as Bill points out, violates those principles.

  5. ben gershon says:

    it is very attractive group for Jews that feel that the Australian Jewish leadership is not addressing the fact that the Gov. of Israel allows the chief rabbis actively disconnect the world Jews from any connection with the country

    the present Israeli Gov. and the Aussie leadership consider and attack any other then extreme right wing point as treasonous .thus polarising the community

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