NIF: Grantees must not actively oppose Israel’s Jewish character


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Groups that work to "deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel" will not be eligible for New Israel Fund monies.

In new guidelines issued Sept. 16 to JTA, the language about Israel’s Jewish character was new but consistent with NIF’s objectives, which derive from Israel’s Declaration of Independence, NIF director Daniel Sokatch told JTA.

NIF, which has come under fire for funding groups that are sharply critical of Israel and that have promoted a binational state instead of a Jewish one, reiterated its well-known principles upholding minority rights and promoting equal rights for all.

Pressed on the new language, Sokatch said it would prohibit proposals for a binational constitution of the kind that two NIF grantees submitted several years ago.

"If we had an organization that made part of its project, part of its mission an effort to really, genuinely organize on behalf of creating a constitution that denied Israel as a sovereign vehicle for self-determination for the Jewish people, a Jewish homeland, if that became the focus of one of our organizations, we would not support that organization," he said.

Sokatch added, however, that NIF would not deny funds to grantees that had philosophical disagreements. The difference, he suggested, was in a grantee’s activism, not in the views of its directors.

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