Today, Israel’s Government Press Office tipped its hand.
The campaign against the New Israel Fund has been spearheaded by allegedly independent NGOs, like Im Tirtzu (I rant about this in an earlier post).
But today, the GPO distributed the translation of an op-ed by Ben Dror Yemini in Maariv. Yemini evidently doesn’t read his own paper: Not that Maariv’s coverage of NIF’s alleged links to groups that submitted materials to the Goldstone report has been what one would call "sane," but it has acknowledged that the vast majority of NIF funding has nothing to do with reporting human rights abuses in Gaza. Yemini didn’t get that memo:
If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.
There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund’s intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel.
According to his online column bio, Yemini is a "journalist and jurist." He says that some of the claims have merit, but this matters less to him than the fact that they were submitted to the Goldstone commission, or than the alleged political proclivities of the submitting organizations.
Ideology trumps facts — for a jurist, a journalist and a newspaper.
But I digress: The GPO did not distribute this in its daily roundup of op-eds; it was sent into inboxes, solo, with its headline — SLUSH FUND — in all caps. This amounts to an endorsement.
I worked for a while in the non-profit sector in Israel, and then I covered it. NIF’s Shatil was, at least in my time there, seen as critical to building infrastructure in sectors that had to do with alleviating want, immigrant absorption — things you’d think that, especially in these times, a government agency would not want to risk.
UPDATE: Credit where credit is due: Amir Mizroch had this first (but hey, he woke up seven hours before I did!).
Also: The headline, "Slush Fund," is the GPO translator’s. The original in Maariv translates roughly as "Gored," a play on the double meaning of keren in Hebrew — fund and horn.
UPDATE II: Yuli Edelstein, no softy when it comes to defending Israel’s reputation, offered a much more rounded taked on NIF’s activities, during a press briefing in Washington.