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Monday, February 01, 2010

The New Israel Fund has crossed a red line

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I reported on a demonstration outside the home of Naomi Chazan, a former Knesset member of the Meretz party and the current chair of the New Israel Fund. Here's how the New Israel Fund describes itself:
We fight inequality, injustice and extremism because we understand that justice is the precondition for a successful democracy – and the only lasting road to peace. The New Israel Fund's founders wanted to connect with Israel in a way that reflected their progressive values, and thousands of Israelis and Diaspora Jews have joined with us for that reason. Our supporters love Israel, and see it clearly as striving for an ideal not yet attained. As a vanguard organization that does not shy from difficult challenges, we know that the issues we take on today will become mainstream tomorrow.
The demonstration outside Chazan's home took place because of a report in the Hebrew daily Maariv over the weekend that showed that 92% of the derogatory statements in the Goldstone Report were provided by organizations supported by the New Israel Fund. In other words, the New Israel Fund is the MoveOn.org of Israel. See more details here and here.

The ad below appeared in Maariv over the weekend. For those of you who are Hebrew speakers, you can find the ad - which has changing quotes that I could not capture with my screen capture tool, and which I suggest you look at - here.

Shmuel Rosner - who is much more centrist than I am - discusses the accusations against the New Israel Fund.
1. That NIF has nothing to do with the Goldstone report.

2. That NIF has too many friends supportive of the Goldstone report.

3. That whether one likes it or not - those friends will define NIF's image in the eyes of the Israeli public.

4. That NIF, for too long, had been more concerned with its liberal supporters abroad than with the Israeli public.

5. That NIF supported, during those years, too many questionable projects (You can read an article I wrote in 2007 about NIF and its support of one questionable cause. It was engaged in "verbal acrobatics" three years ago - it is engaged in verbal acrobatics today).

6. That the current campaign against NIF was inevitable.

7. That this campaign is ugly both in tone and content.

8. That NIF attackers should remember that these are good people trying to do good things for Israel.

9. That NIF defenders will better serve their cause by thinking not just about the viciousness of the attacks but also of their own contribution to the atmosphere that made such broad and effective attack possible.
Sorry, but I disagree with 1, 7 and 8 above.

The New Israel Fund and the organizations it supports have much to do with the Goldstone Report. No, they didn't hire Judge Goldstone to write it, nor did they vote in favor of it in the 'Human Rights Council.' But their continuous attacks on the State of Israel have helped fuel an atmosphere that allows anti-Semites to point at Israel and say that even the Jews - and even Israel's own Jews - agree with the attacks on Israel. It's that 'Israel can do no right' atmosphere that gave birth to the Goldstone Report.

If the campaign is ugly in tone and content it's because the campaign is answering ugly and unsubstantiated accusations. Those campaigning against the New Israel Fund have given up on the 'high road.' Western Jewry doesn't know who the New Israel Fund really is. When they see words like "Our supporters love Israel, and see it clearly as striving for an ideal not yet attained," they take those words at face value. The average American Jew is likely clueless about the fact that the New Israel Fund supports groups that seek to destroy the Jewish state. While this campaign is currently only in Israel, it is hoped that stunts like having 'Hamas' demonstrate outside the home of the New Israel Fund's chair will attract attention from abroad and raise awareness of the New Israel Fund's agenda. Obviously, the attempts by academics like Professor Gerald Steinberg to expose that agenda have not been enough.

Rosner is dead wrong that "these are good people trying to do good things for Israel." Here are some of Professor Steinberg's examples - I'm sure you will all agree with me that these are not 'good people trying to do good things for Israel.'
  • Five grantees – Machsom Watch, Coalition of Women for Peace, Women Against Violence, Social TV, and Mossawa – signed a divestment letter, which was sent to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund.
  • Adalah ($500,000 in 2008) promotes a “Democratic Constitution” calling for eliminating Israel’s Jewish framework, and based on the “one-state solution.” Adalah officials were also involved in writing and editing a May 2009 South African publication “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?: A re-assessment of Israel´s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.” The document refers to Israeli occupation as a “colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid.”
  • I've discussed one of those organizations - Machsom Watch - several times on this blog, see here (watch the video of them in action), here and here.

    The New Israel Fund and the organizations they support are not nice people and they deserve all of the acrimony that has been heaped on them for the last several days. Someone needs to remind Shmuel Rosner that he no longer writes for Haaretz (he used to), and therefore he no longer has to be politically correct.


    At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm a centrist. I'll file this one under Jihad: Israel -- along with the sewage emanating from Islam and the EU. As for the NIF, we ought to know who pays their bills.

    At 8:42 PM, Blogger Ben Murane, New Israel Fund said...

    I hope everyone who cares for democracy in Israel will take a moment to help us rebut this smear campaign.

    Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman says in New York Jewish Week that the Im Tirtzu campaign is an "outrageous broadside...it is absurd to blame Goldstone on NIF.”

    Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform Action Center says “In their twisted attribution of blame for the Goldstone Report to the NIF, these attackers are trying to delegitimize the New Israel Fund in much the same way that the Goldstone Report is being used to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world.”

    Even Christians United for Israel (CUFI) spokesperson Ari Morgenstern distanced CUFI from Im Tirtzu’s ad campaign, "Although we are often demonized by our critics, CUFI never demonizes those with whom we disagree, and we object when anyone does.”

    And two Maariv reporters rebutted the claims of their own paper, pointing out that only 14% of citations are from Israeli human rights groups, and that there are over 450 Israeli sources in the Goldstone report, including statements by Israeli generals, politicians and even (oh my) Maariv itself!

    (English translation here: http://coteret.com/2010/02/03/two-senior-maariv-reporters-attack-the-anti-nif-campaign-sponsored-by-their-newspaper/)

    We’ve asked all supporters of NIF and democracy to email Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop this bill before then. Please share this link far and wide: http://nif.org/bibi


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