By: Morton A. Klein
July 29, 2008

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: New Israel Fund Financing Anti-Israel Groups

 


A report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has revealed that the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization that purports to be pro-Israel and raises money to disburse to various causes in Israel, has been funding far-left and extreme Israeli Arab groups that work to defame Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ in the international arena and to undermine Israel as a Jewish state (Michael J. Jordan, ‘Questions about New Israel Fund grantees,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 23, 2008).


 


NIF was the recipient in 2003 of a landmark $20 million grant from the Ford Foundation. (The Ford Foundation itself has been criticized for funding anti-Israel groups and agendas).


 


The JTA reports that NIF has funded the following groups:


 


·         Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; and Mossawa Center: In 2006-07, these two NIF grantees entered Israel’s national debate over a constitution with their own proposals: Adalah proposed a ‘Democratic Constitution,’ and the Mossawa Center proposed ‘An Equal Constitution For All?’ Both proposals called for a binational state that would couple an unlimited ‘right of return’ for Palestinians with abolishing the Jewish Law of Return. In addition, some NIF-Ford grantees weighed in on a third such proposal, the ‘Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel’ which opposes Israel‘s existence as Jewish state.


 


·        Yesh Din, Bimkom, Machsom Watch, HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel: In March 2007, eight groups, including these seven NIF grantees, successfully petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice against what it labeled the ‘Apartheid order’ to create an ‘Apartheid road’ on which Israeli police would restrict Palestinians from traveling in Israeli cars in the West Bank. The petition did not mention Israel‘s justification for the directive, which it said was to prevent the transport of possible terrorists.


 


·        The Association of Civil Rights in Israel: In March 2008, the New York Times quoted a lawyer from this group, described as a “flagship grantee of the NIF” by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency report – was reported as saying that, “There is already a separate legal system in the territories for Israelis and Palestinians … With the approval of separate roads, if it becomes a widespread policy, then the word for it will be ‘apartheid.’” (The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once described another beneficiary of NIF’s largesse, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, as the Organization for the Rights of Hamas Terrorists).


 


·        Adalah: In its April 2008 newsletter, this NIF grantee published an article by the group’s general-director, Hassan Jabareen, titled ‘The Israeli Regime of Hafradah (Separation in English and Apartheid in Afrikaans).’ With no mention of Palestinian attacks, Jabareen alleges that Israel “aims to redefine the Jewishness of the state.” Also in April, five Adalah board members joined an Israeli Arab delegation to South Africa in a visit the group itself portrayed as commiserating with fellow victims of apartheid



 


Other groups and individuals supported or funded by NIF not mentioned in the JTA report include:


 


·        International Solidarity Movement: it gave a stipend to a member of the International Solidarity Movement, which not only promotes divestment, but justifies Palestinian ‘armed struggle’ [i.e., terrorism] and participates in efforts to impede legitimate Israeli counter-terrorist measures. Its co-founder, George Rishmawi, is even on record justifying the “need” for terrorism.


·        Shamai Leibowitz: Leibowitz was NIF’s 2004 Fellow, Shamai Leibowitz, who, according to NGO Monitor, ‘has devoted great efforts to advancing the cause of economic and diplomatic war against the existence of the Jewish state.’


·        Israeli Arab MK Azmi Bishara: NIF also honored Israeli Arab MK, Azmi Bishara, by inviting him to speak at a major NIF function despite the fact that Bishara is a determined foe of Israel as a Jewish state, has laid a wreath on the grave of an Islamic Jihad leader, endorsed the so-called ‘right of return’ and called for a jihad against Israel. Has praised Syria for its “struggle to liberate occupied Arab land, its resistance against occupation and its defense of the legitimacy of such resistance” (Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2006); stated that “We are Syria’s ally” and supported its efforts to free “occupied Arab land” (Haaretz, September 10, 2006); condemned “Israel’s barbaric onslaughts” against Lebanon and urged Hizballah’s Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to “continue his fight” (Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2006) and warned Syria of likely “preemptive Israeli strikes” (Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2006), something of which he might well have knowledge as a result of his presence in the Knesset. Bishara’s National Democratic Assembly (Balad) Party, have been shown in a video chanting in Arabic “Our Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] – we want an attack from you” and “Oh [PLFP chief Ahmed] Sadaat we want weapons to build.” The video was screened by Israel TV’s Channel One in connection with Arab protests over Land Day in the Arab village of Arrabe (‘Israeli Arabs call for terror attacks against Israel at Land Day protest,’ Independent Media Review Analysis, March 30, 2008). Bishara left Israel in April 2007, following police investigations into his anti-Israel activities and charges of treason and espionage, including passing information to the enemy and contacts with a foreign agent, as well as laundering money received from foreign sources (‘Balad Chairman Bishara: I cannot receive a fair trial in Israel,’ Haaretz, April 28, 2007).


 


 


NIF has tried to fend off these embarrassing revelations by claiming that it does not expect its grantees to share its views except in a “broad sense” while NIF head, Larry Garber, has claimed that those with rose-tinted views of Israel who attack all Israeli critics are equally responsible for the distortion and erosion of Israel’s image as those who attack it, saying “The ‘Israel right or wrong’ crowd is myopic in insisting on the rose-colored version of the Zionist dream … In their own way, they do as much damage as their adversaries, those who insist Israel is at the bottom of every scale upon which civic virtue can be measured. Neither side is right and neither side is blameless in the ongoing PR battle that sheds more heat than light” (Michael J. Jordan, ‘Questions about New Israel Fund grantees,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 23, 2008).


 


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is clear that the New Israel Fund pursues an anti-Zionist agenda of funding and supporting numerous organizations that are working hard to demonize Israel in the international arena and also working diligently within Israel to hamper Israel’s ability to defend its citizens and even to maintain itself as a Jewish state. Unfortunately, it would appear that NIF misleads many sincere, liberal supporters of Israel into thinking that, by supporting NIF, they are supporting Israel, but this isn’t true.


 


“For NIF’s spokesman to say that NIF only funds those groups with whom it has ‘broad agreement’ with their own aims, while permitting different views on specific issues, is the epitome of nonsense and superficiality. If NIF supports only groups that ‘broadly agree’ with it, then, after looking at whom it funds, it is fair to say that NIF believes Israel should cease to be a Jewish state.


 


“For NIF’s head, Larry Garber, to contend that Israel‘s image is harmed by those who defend it from the vicious calumnies coming from some of the very groups NIF munificently supports is breathtaking. Truth and justice are not achieved, as Garber seems to think, by a nod in each direction to both sides’ criticisms. It is achieved by understanding that when one side is dedicated to the elimination of the other, the former must be protected from the latter. That is what truth and justice demands, not mindless, false equivalence, as though both sides were morally equal.


 


“It is vital that the American Jewish community know that the agenda of NIF and those it supports is very different from the goal of building up and strengthening Israel as a Jewish, democratic state.


 


“We urge pro-Israel donors to New Israel Fund to demand that NIF immediately cease funding these anti-Israel groups and agendas.”