Tide Turning for New Israel Fund

Tide Turning for New Israel Fund

The Meretz USA office has discovered the following: Of those NGOs accused of anti-Israel agendas, with alleged ties to the New Israel Fund, Zochrot and New Profile have never been grantees; and the Coalition of Women for Peace has not been a grantee since 2006.

In the meantime, the leadership of the Kadima party has rejected a proposal of one of its own MKs and decided not to vote for a committee of parliamentary inquiry into the New Israel Fund and the human rights organizations it supports. The proposed inquiry was triggered by a campaign of vilification launched against the NIF two weeks ago by a new right-wing group, Im Tirtzu [“if you will it”–from a famous inspirational statement by Theodor Herzl] attempting to blame Israel’s human rights community for the Goldstone report on Gaza.

You should check-out reporting by Ron Kampeas at the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) website. His coverage has been scathing on the low quality of the Im Tirtzu charges. Here’s part of what Kampeas posted on Feb. 9:

… Im Tirtzu acknowledges that the 16 NGOs named in its report are a small portion of the more than 300 groups funded by the NIF, many of them having to do with building infrastructure, assisting immigrants, and defending the rights of women, the disabled and religious and ethnic minorities. But the distinctions seem to mean little to Im Tirtzu; its Web site, in Hebrew, lumps the groups together, describing NIF as “investing in and developing hundreds of extreme leftist groups operating in various sectors.”

The NIF and its affiliated groups have pointed out what they say are errors of fact in the Im Tirtzu report.

Im Tirtzu, for instance, claims that “hardly a word was heard from the organizations” when Sderot, the Israeli town near the Gaza Strip, was afflicted by rocket fire in the years before the Gaza war. In fact, Shatil, an infrastructure-building group and the NIF’s flagship in Israel, runs a number of projects in Sderot, as do other NIF affiliates.

Shatil ran a public forum in Sderot in the war’s immediate aftermath to make heard the concerns of its residents. …

Groups like B’Tselem, a human rights monitor, dispute the Im Tirtzu report’s repeated allegations that they “accuse the IDF of war crimes,” instead saying that they uncovered allegations of abuse and left it to the relevant authorities — in Israel and overseas — to delve further.

“B’Tselem is not a commission of inquiry,” said Uri Zaki [a former Meretz party youth leader], who directs the group’s Washington office, adding that B’Tselem was compiling facts and seeking independent action.

“There should be an investigation inquiry or committee,” he said. “That is what Israel is required to do.”

… Zaki said B’Tselem stands by the accuracy of its Gaza war reporting. The Israeli government in a report earlier this month acknowledged using the group as a source.

What is more striking about the Im Tirtzu report is where it essentially agrees with its targets: In entry after entry, under a subsection called “Main activity against IDF policy,” Im Tirtzu lists petitions to the Supreme Court against army actions.

For the groups, these petitions are a matter of pride; the Public Committee Against Torture, for instance, initiated a petition that resulted in 1999 in the Supreme Court banning torture. The Israeli Foreign Ministry and other pro-Israel groups have cited the ruling as exemplifying Israel’s democracy and its humanitarian character. …

Even the Im Tirtzu report itself (on p. 23) oddly includes the following laudatory account of NIF activities:

… the NIF has been awarded major joint projects by Israeli government ministries and the Jewish Agency.

1. The NIF and the Education Ministry run active Citizenship, a joint civics education program in Israeli high schools. The program’s aim is to strengthen Israel’s political-democratic culture and to establish civics as a major, compulsory subject, like mathematics and English. The cooperation with the Education Ministry is manifest in the participation of NIF representatives in the ministry’s committees and in the training of teachers to teach this subject.

2. The NIF, the Sports Administration of the Culture and Sports Ministry, and the Metzila branch of the Internal Security Ministry are running a program for the prevention of violence in sports. The purpose of this project is to reduce violence and racism in sports.

3. Fidel has been operating within the framework of the NIF since 1998. The organization’s goal is to promote the social integration of Ethiopian immigrants and to narrow the social and educational gaps. The Jewish agency asked the organization to mentor groups of parents in immigrant absorption centers.

4. Taglit-Birthright and the NIF operate a unique tour that brings Jewish Diaspora youth to Israel: Discover Israel: Peace, Pluralism and Social Justice. Taglit-Birthright project is run jointly by the Israeli government, the Jewish agency, the United Jewish Communities and Jewish philanthropists. The joint tour operated by Taglit-Birthright and the NIF “explores the country from a progressive perspective, focusing on both domestic social and political issues as well as larger questions of a just and lasting peace for Jews and Arabs both. The trip includes fascinating encounters with Israeli activists and non-government organizations working for minority rights, environmental justice, gender equality, religious pluralism, and peace in the region.

By | 2010-02-10T14:59:00-05:00 February 10th, 2010|Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Yehuda Erdman February 13, 2010 at 6:59 am - Reply

    I don’t think the Zionist Left needs to be so defensive about Naomi Chazan, the NIF, the Goldstone report etc. Let’s get back to basics: Israel launched a calculated and deadly attack on Gaza and there was huge distruction of infrastructure as well as many casualties among the Palestinians. THIS WAS ALL PREDICTABLE. The UN appointed a panel to investigate headed by a distinguished South African Judge who also happens to be Jewish.
    Instead of co-operating openly with his investigation, Israel immediately took the line that anything coming out of the UN would be biased against itself and did not submit evidence.
    To make matters worse there was then an orchestrated campaign going right up to the top of this very right wing government, the Israeli diplomatic service working overtime and right wing diaspora Jewry with a knee-jerk response all making out that Goldstone and everyone else on the panel and the NIF who were accused of passing information etc.; ALL accused of being traitors to the Jewish people, Israel etc.
    There is a complete lack of objectivity. At last sane voices in Israel are pointing out that the negative reaction to Israel’s attack on Gaza is not just anti-semitism but even Israel’s friends (mainly the US Administration) are finding it very hard to defend the indefensible.
    The phrase “Im Tirzu” translated from Herzl’s concept of (paraphrasing) that the will to establish Israel would be sufficient to overcome all obstacles, does NOT apply to everything that happens in the modern complex world. Instead we realise we are in the global village and actions are readily observable by multi-media which ensures that it’s all out there.
    The campaign against the NIF typifies what has been going on for some years whereby “Hasbara” may be translated as propaganda, which means that truth has been the first victim.

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