Further attacks on the New Israel Fund

March 10, 2010

maarivBen Caspit, Maariv Weekend Supplement (print edition), 05.03.2010

Unofficial translation from the Hebrew

The Fund Strikes Again

The main findings of the study by ‘Im Tirzu’, published here a few weeks ago, regarding the ‘New Israel Fund’ gave rise to a storm. (See our New Israel Fund update on this website.) Since then, many materials have accumulated regarding this problematic issue. For example, an email was sent by an Israeli citizen, who works voluntarily on behalf of the rights of the Bedouin in the Negev desert. “I read all the minutes of the Goldberg Committee”, this man wrote to me (The Goldberg Committee was set up by the state to regulate the problem of Bedouin settlement in the Negev). “Around 3,500 pages. 117 organisations and individuals testified to the Committee, including 44 Bedouin, 59 Jews and 14 NGOs. Most of the organizations that testified to the Committee expressed extreme views regarding the Bedouin question and against the State of Israel. The similar claims raised by these bodies (which in my view were distorted) and the use of similar expressions among most of their speakers led me to seek a common denominator, and so I reached the New Israel Fund. It turns out that of the 14 organisations that appeared before the Committee, 12 are connected to the NIF.” He appended the list. You already know most of the names.

“It should be noted”, wrote the man, “that most of the bodies connected to the NIF that appeared before the Committee are not well-acquainted with topics connected to the Bedouin. Some are marginal organizations and others are bodies that have no connection to the issue of the Bedouin. The objective of their appearance before the Committee raises question marks, especially in the light of their connection to the NIF. This is an example of the methods of the Fund: to create a mass of people and organizations who repeat the same claims, which in the end influences their audience.” “And now”, wrote the man, “to the issue that is in my opinion the most serious, and which points in my opinion to the real aims of the Fund: of 15 Jewish professors  and doctors who appeared before the Goldberg Committee, seven are directly connected to the NIF, and five of them signed, in 2007, before the Committee convened, a post Zionist (or anti Zionist) document, which compares the situation of the Bedouin to that of the indigenous population in Australia, and us to the Whites in Australia. According to the document, all the Negev [desert] belongs to the Bedouin and they should be given all the lands that they demand.” The man appended a list of the professors and doctors and also a biography of himself. At his request, I will omit identifying details. It is clear from his biography that this is not a right wing person or an Arab-hater. On the contrary, he lived among the Bedouin for many years.

“I think the Bedouin deserve housing, education and livelihood just like the Jews do, and indeed I invest most of my time in volunteering for the promotion of their interests” (he gave details of these, but I have omitted them in order to prevent his identification.), “but I still think that the land is state land, and the state is the Jewish state. And of course in the state of Israel every person has a right to hold any opinion they like, but the clear connection of those people and bodies that I mentioned to the NIF shows that it is a political, not a social body as it claims.”

The NIF’s response: “The Bedouin are also citizens of Israel. Why is stating a position in support of the Bedouin presented as a position against the state? Do you see cooperation with the Goldberg Committee, an official state committee, to be illegitimate?”

Money under attack/scrutiny

Next: Last year a letter was sent to the Norwegian governmental pension fund, which invests a lot of money in large Israeli companies that are well-known to us all. The letter urged the Norwegian government to stop this abominated custom, not to invest in Israeli companies, to cooperate in this with Israeli organizations for “justice” and “equality”, and to boycott the Israeli companies immediately. The letter is signed by many organizations, including, of course, the “Coalition of Women for Peace”, which is supported by the NIF. Whoever looks further reaches, via this coalition, a special project called “Who Profits from the Occupation”, and from there, a call for an economic boycott on all of them: TEVA, Paz, IDB, Pelephone, Motorola, Superpharm, Dor Alon, Africa-Israel and others. Would you like to donate to the Coalition of Women for Peace and even get a tax refund? All through the NIF website. All out there in the internet.

Response of the NIF: “The NIF objects to a strategy of boycott of any kind and has declared this position explicitly. The issue of the Coalition of Women for Peace is under examination.”

Next: Around this time there is on three continents around the world the “Israel Apartheid” event. It will continue for two weeks. A real celebration for post Zionists wherever they are. A large part of them, of course, come from within us. As exposed by NGO Monitor, here too we can find the stars of the NIF. Adalah, of course. Breaking the Silence too. Prof. Gerald Steinberg said in this respect that “Israel Apartheid Week is used by Pro-Palestinian activists as a part of political war, that negates the legitimacy of Israel and depicts it as satanic, in order to encourage a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”

This core strategy, according to Steinberg, “was born in the NGO forum of the UN Durban conference of 2001, where 1,500 organisations labeled  Israel a ‘racist apartheid state’, which is committing ‘a crime against humanity’.

Schneller gives in

This is of course a very small part of all the new material that keeps coming in. This is without touching the explosive material lying at the base of another part of the activities of the NIF and Professor Naomi Chazan, a part that deals with their involvement in the IDF.

There is a big report on this issue too, prepared by a group of Israeli soldiers who followed the penetration of these organizations into the IDF under the mask of “Gender Mainstreaming” (a public policy that distinguishes between genders). According to this theory, there is a sophisticated activity that has been going on for many years and is backed by UN resolutions and international organizations, whose aim is to weaken the IDF by introducing the value of total equality for women. The report is full of references, data based on scientific research, surveys and articles. It is worth examination and publication and it will be presented here in part in the following weeks. In addition to this report, there are also additional academic articles by independent parties that support its claims. This issue is worth a debate, and perhaps more than that. It needs to be examined properly.

Not long ago, after the storm broke out, NGO Monitor published a recommendation for a number of red lines which should be adopted by the NIF in order to dispel the clouds of doubt from its activities: Avoid all kinds of boycott activities or prevention of investments (‘divestment’), or sanctions on Israel. Stop demonization and delegitimizing of Israel through expressions like ‘Apartheid’, Nazi rhetoric, ‘war crimes’ and distorted and intentional use of international law. Stop ‘lawfare’ abroad against Israeli high-ranking officials, Israeli officers or Israeli companies and stop anti Zionist activities such as opposition to the definition of Israel as a “Jewish Democratic State”, including demands for a solution of ‘one bi-national state’, against the Israeli Law of Return and for cancelation of Jewish and national symbols.

It seems to me that these are rational demands. They do not contradict legitimate demonstrations/protest. There is no problem with opposing the occupation. I also think that the occupation in the territories causes more harm than good and I would be very happy to establish, tomorrow, an independent and prosperous Palestinian state beside Israel. Unfortunately, Ehud Olmert offered Abu Mazen 98 percent of what he demanded (and perhaps even more), but was turned down, just as Peres, Beilin, Barak and others had been turned down before him. It is OK to demonstrate against the fence in Bil’in.

It is OK to attack the policy of the government of Israel in every place and in every way. It is possible and even commendable to hold vigils next to checkpoints in the territories and to make sure that the Palestinian population is treated properly. It is OK to think that Netanyahu’s rejectionist policy is leading us to disaster (I think words to that effect are written here weekly). It is allowed, in fact, to do everything. Except for undermining the foundations of the existence of the only Jewish state. It has a right to exist, it has a right to defend itself. A large number of the extremist organizations funded by the NIF do exactly that. In a very poisonous way, very skillfully and with generous funding by donors, most of whom are unaware of who and what they are funding.

What is most worrying for me is what happened to MK Otniel Schneller [Kadima], who wanted to submit a law proposal for the establishment of a parliamentary committee for the examination of the activities of the NIF. Schneller was determined and he promised to go all the way, until he met a concrete wall. Ministers, senior Members of Knesset, key officials from all parties and all directions said to him, almost all in the same tone of voice and in the same whisper: Have you gone crazy? What are you doing? You are cutting off the branch that we are all sitting on, leave it, for god’s sake.

He left it, and it’s a pity he left it. We won’t leave it.

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