NIFAu and the Jewish State – Ron Weiser’s take

September 8, 2011 by Ron Weiser
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Anyone who has followed the recent debate with the New Israel Fund would be aware of my constant call for NIF to recognise Israel as the “Jewish State” which at the same time should be both “democratic and secure”…writes Ron Weiser.

Ron Weiser

Indeed in my private and public discussions with NIF this has always been the stumbling block.

From the beginning of this debate I have only posed the one so called red line.

And I have been attacked by NIFau for doing so.

NIFau have tried to explain to me why they cannot actually use such terminology etc etc.

The reason was clear – if NIF truly would have accepted the pre condition of Israel being a “Jewish State” – then making grants should have followed based upon that principle.

Particularly over the past decade however, grants were also given to organisations that supported or gave oxygen to BDS, that opposed the very concept of Israel as a Jewish State, that supported the so called Palestinian Right of Return and so the list goes on.

I have posited from the beginning that shining a spotlight on NIF was the only way to bring them into the communal consensus.

It was after NIF support for organisations that were involved in BDS was exposed, that NIF changed its written policy on this. Its grants policy however remains a grey area as we have seen from the release of their 2010 accounts.

This week we learnt from Wikileaks that then NIF Grants Director Hedva Radanovitz was quoted as saying in February 2010 “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”

This has refocused the debate on the central principle that NIFau has been trying to avoid.

Yesterday (6.9.11) NIF head office issued a statement which included the following:

“The New Israel Fund has always supported Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”

This is a most remarkable statement, both in the claim of “always” and the public commitment of NIF to a “Jewish and democratic state”.

In my view this is a first and is a radical departure from previous NIF positions.

This, what I consider to be quite new position of NIF, is to be welcomed.

Hopefully NIF will be able to convince its local branch to also come on board with this vision.

NIF having now publically accepted this principle, should be held to it in its grantee allocations.

It should cease providing grants to organisations that support the so called Palestinian Right of Return and/or who either support partial BDS or give BDS oxygen.

Then the doublespeak will end and we will know just how NIF reconcile their stated policy positions with the actual way they give out funds.

Ron Weiser is the Immediate Past President of the Zionist Federation of Australia and Hon Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW.

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