NGO Monitor wrote to the New Israel Fund yesterday calling on it to condemn a client group, Adalah, for speaking at a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) conference next week in Geneva.
Such participation would seemingly violate NIF’s funding guidelines, which ban dealing with groups that deny the "right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel."
As far as I can ascertain — I can’t extract a direct answer from NGO Monitor — the watchdog did not send the letter (or call) before sending out a press release on the issue.
A call-ahead might have saved them the trouble of alerting the press: New Israel Fund issued a statement today denying that Adalah was attending the event. It quotes Adalah as saying:
Adalah and its representatives are not participating in the event referred to in Geneva. The invitation to the event was sent out without prior coordination with, or the approval of Adalah.
I hear from NIF that Adalah was not aware of the thrust of the conference, entitled "The Politics of Apartheid in Israel — the New Racist Laws."
That seems a little naive. The host is called BDS-Geneve. If you’re signed on to the NIF guidelines, an invitation from any group with BDS in its name would seem to merit a "No, unless you provide information proving you do not seek to delegitimize Israel" response as opposed to a "Tentatively yes, if you let me first vet the invitation" response.
NGO Monitor notes that the event is still posted, on the website of a group friendly to BDS-Geneve, Collectif Urgence Palestine-Geneve.
In a Twitter war with NIF, NGO Monitor suggests that means the event is still on. And NGO-Monitor says it’s checked with the CUF-G folks, who say the event is still on.
It is not, however, posted on the BDS-Geneve website, as far as I could find. And I spoke to a CUF-G spokesman just now, Nathan Finkelstein, who tells me that he does not know if the event is still on — just that no one from BDS-Geneve has told CUF-G to take down the announcement, as far as he knows. Nor has he asked.
He’s asking now. He’s getting someone from BDS-Geneve to call me. I’ve also emailed BDS-Geneve (there are no phone numbers on its website).
UPDATE: BDS-Geneve Tweeted this morning that the event is on, and with the Adalah official, Suhad Bishara, attending.
They have yet to contact me. Naomi Paiss, NIF’s spokeswoman, tells me Bishara is "definitely not going" and "Adalah is not a pro-BDS organization."