Crossing Red Lines?: New Israel Fund And Israel


This week, the battle in Jerusalem over the credibility of the New Israel Fund moved to the Knesset, where Israel’s elected officials will conduct what will likely be a spirited debate as to whether NIF poses a security risk to Israel. The debate follows the publication of the full text of the Goldstone commission, where NIF grantees such as the Rabbis for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israel Committee Against Torture, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights and at least a dozen more NIF-funded groups collectively accused the government and the Israeli army of crimes against humanity during the Gaza war.
This “war crime” accusation has become the trigger for a host of European countries that have threatened to prosecute Israeli politicians and Israeli reserve army officers for war crimes, if they were to step foot on their soil.

The New Israel Fund, in its defense, says it does not support those who demonize Israel or call for divestment or boycott of Israel, and that it will not assist those who advocate the “right of return” for Palestinians to reclaim land lost to them in 1948.

What the Knesset will examine, however, are a host of NIF grantees that violate these stated NIF policies, independent of the Goldstone controversy.
NIF funds the Coalition of Women for Peace, which recently hosted a conference in Jaffa, whose keynote speaker, Naomi Klein, issued a call for BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions). CWP promoted the results of the event, declaring that “Klein’s public meetings, in Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Haifa, and Jaffa drew hundreds of people to hear her clear-eyed analysis of why it is time for a full boycott of Israel until the occupation ends, [until] Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel have full and equal rights, and [until] the right of return for Palestinian refugees is fully realized under international law.” 

CWP went a step further, calling on Norway to become the first Western government to divest from Israel as did NIF grantees Mossawa and Machsom [Checkpoint] Watch.

NIF grantee I’lam, the media hub of the Israeli-Arab community, consistently demonizes Israel and the Jewish people. Its Web site continues to promote the questionable claims of a “massacre” in Jenin in 2002 with the following report:

“The soldiers are the grandchildren of the Nazis’ victims, the Nazis’ survivors. They have come here to consume food quickly and consume life quickly. This is the true image of Israel. The real Israel is not in the clean, lofty suburbs of Northern Tel Aviv. … It is not in the literary cafes and journalists’ clubs. … It is not its High Court. I saw the real Israel, its ugliness in the Jenin Refugee Camp on Monday, April 15, 2002. The rest remains decor for murder.”
I’lam’s claims of the Jenin massacre are still hosted on the NIF Web site.

Adalah, a key NIF grantee in the Israeli-Arab sector, expresses support for Sheik Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of Israel’s Islamic movement, whose incitement against Israel is legendary. Salah claims that there was never a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount and has called for an intifada to protect Al-Aqsa from a Jewish plot. Salah remains a member of the board of trustees of the “Union of Good,” an umbrella group that openly funnels seemingly charitable funds to Hamas-affiliated organizations. When Salah’s offices were shut down by the Israeli government in 2008, Adalah filed claims on behalf of Salah. 
NIF grantee New Profile openly works to convince young Israeli citizens not to serve in the Israeli army.

NIF grantee Breaking the Silence distributes questionable and anonymous testimony regarding Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza.
NIF grantee B’tselem spreads the false notion to the media and, most recently, to the U.S. Congress that Israel has created a siege of Gaza that has caused a severe humanitarian crisis there, ignoring the 640 convoys of trucks that Israel dispatched into Gaza during 2009 alone. It is one thing to oppose the Israeli policy of blocking building materials and potentially lethal substances into Gaza. It is quite another matter to fabricate a humanitarian crisis and to claim that there is a lack of food and medical supplies in Gaza.

NIF grantee Zochrot openly supports the right of Palestinian refugees to return and “reclaim” the 531 Arab villages and neighborhoods that they lost in 1948, organizing tours to enable for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to reclaim former Arab properties where Israelis now live. Zochrot has gone so far as to issue a new map of the Tel Aviv area that depicts former Arab neighborhoods that can be reclaimed by Palestinians, even if that would mean displacing Israeli citizens.

In the Israeli Arab sector, NIF embarked on a five-year program, beginning in 2001, to help transform the identity of Israeli Arabs into a Palestinian national minority in Israel.

In that context, the NIF grantee Adalah, the Israeli-Arab legal group that played a pivotal role in the anti-Israel gathering in Durban, South Africa, in August 2001 and in Durban II conference in April 2009, promotes the so-called Haifa declaration. Adalah openly declares that its goal is to replace Zionism as the basis of the state of Israel. The principal means of achieving that goal, according to the constitution proposed by Adalah, involves the implementation of the “right of return,” which Adalah would facilitate in the form of “family reunification.”

In the 1990s alone, Israel allowed 140,000 Palestinians to enter the country as a result of marriage. Yet the proposed Adalah amendment to the Israel Citizenship Law would allow for the flow of return en masse. Israel would no longer be a Jewish and democratic state, but a state that will disguise itself as being either “binational” or a “state of all its citizens,” but which, in practice, would become a Palestinian state.

According to Maariv journalist Ben Dror Yemini, “The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. [It] thinks it is OK to take part in the demonization campaign being staged by organizations whose goal is the elimination of Israel. It thinks it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone commission, even though it was formed by an automatic majority of the benighted countries that control the UN Human Rights Council. … It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people’s right to self-determination.” n

David Bedein is director of the Jerusalem-based Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.