Barnea: U.S. Jewish leaders press Bibi to block NIF probe


* Yediot’s Nahum Barnea, by many accounts Israel’s most respected political columnist, reports that U.S. Jewish communal figures weighed in with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin against a Knesset investiagtion of the New Israel Fund:

The attack on the fund greatly troubled the American Jewish establishment. An investigation in Israel could harm other Jewish organizations. Questions will be raised about political involvement in a foreign country, dual loyalty and tax offenses. Anti-Defamation League Director Abe Foxman, who is not associated with the NIF, said to The Jewish Week that the accusations of the right wing NGO were impudent. “It’s almost undemocratic,” Foxman said to me over the phone yesterday.

In the afternoon, Rivlin received a phone call from a leader of one of the Jewish organizations. “Have you gone mad?” the man lashed out at Rivlin. “You’re going to investigate us for funds we send to you? You’re out of your minds.”

Barak “I can’t stop it,” Rivlin said to him. “It’s not within my authority.” He called Netanyahu and reported to him about the call from New York. Netanyahu turned to Schneller and convinced him to remove the proposal from the agenda. Schneller says that he promised him to recruit the entire coalition to support the proposal, if the discussion of it would be postponed to next week.

Barnea also reports on the strange political alignments in this fight, with strong anti-NIF comments coming from Kedima and Labor Knesset members, while several prominent Likud memebers spoke out against the idea of setting up a parliamentary commission of inquiry.

Yeshiva World News reported that Nachman Shai (Kadima) and Daniel Ben-Simon (Labor) organized a letter signed by 14 Knesset membersdefending NIF.  And Ynet quotes another Laborite, Welfare Minister Yitzhak Herzog, as slamming the attacks against NIF as "McCarthyism."

The Jerusalem Post quotes Haim Oron or Meretz threatening a probe into the funding of right-wing organizations in response to any Knesset investigation of NIF.

Meanwhile, the Post’s Caroline Glick argues that the anger over NIF is a good sign:

The media coverage provoked calls in the Knesset this week to investigate the NIF and its operational arms in Israel, both through regular committee hearings and perhaps through a parliamentary investigative panel.

These calls are extraordinary because they represent the first time in a decade that the legitimacy of these NGOs has been seriously scrutinized.

Since the Palestinians began their terror war against Israel in September 2000, NIF-sponsored groups have worked steadily to intimidate political leaders, law enforcement officials and military commanders to toe their anti-Zionist line.

Recommended from JTA