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ZOA: New Israel Fund Admits It Funds Groups That Promote Boycotting, Divesting From, & Sanctions Upon, Israel

If U.S. Jews knew truth – would they fund NIF?

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed out that the New Israel Fund (NIF), which for years has held itself out to be a liberal, pro-Israeli group righteously promoting the building up of civil society and aiding minorities in Israel, is a leading promoter of organizations that advocate boycotting, divesting from, and imposing sanctions upon, Israel (BDS). This undercuts any claim it might make to being a mainstream, liberal, pro-Israeli organization.

On its website, the New Israel Fund outlines ‘Selected NIF policies’ which includes the following question – ‘What is NIF’s position on boycott, divestment and sanctions?’ In answer, the NIF says that it, while it opposes ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS), “as a strategy or tactic … we will not reduce or eliminate our funding for grantees that differ with us on a tactical matter. NIF will not fund BDS activities nor support organizations for which BDS is a substantial element of their activities, but will support organizations that conform to our grant requirements if their support for BDS is incidental or subsidiary to their significant programs” (‘What is NIF’s position on boycott, divestment and sanctions?’ NIF website).

As the ZOA has previously noted, the NIF has funded an array of anti-Israel groups and individuals over the years:

· 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 opposed Israel’s existence as Jewish state. In April 2008, 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. Adalah takes the position that the Israeli government is a “junta which proves each day that it is the most fascist and racist in history.”

· 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 a 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.

· International Solidarity Movement: NIF 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 determined enemy 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).

In addition, the Israeli daily Maariv (January 29, 2010) reported the results of a study conducted by Im Tirzu, a new Israeli grassroots movement, which recently revealed that 16 groups funded by the NIF provided 92% of the damning statements quoted from Israeli NGOs in the U.N. Goldstone Report on the December 2008-January 2009 hostilities in Gaza (Caroline Glick, ‘The NIF and the next war,’ Jerusalem Post, February 5, 2010).

The Goldstone Report as the ZOA delineated in detail at the time, ignored all Hamas assaults upon Israel that led to Israel’s operations in Gaza and often based its condemnation of Israel on unsubstantiated Palestinian testimony. The Report claimed to find no conclusive evidence that Hamas used Palestinian civilians as human shields in the fighting; copied major, politicized distortions of international legal norms habitually made by anti-Israel NGOs; falsely reclassified Hamas personnel as civilian police in order to indict Israel for legitimate assaults upon these forces; and invented non-existent legal obligations of which it then proceeded to find Israel in breach.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is clearer than ever that the New Israel Fund pursues an anti-Israel, 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. Now it is even clearer than before that NIF does not exclude from funding groups that work for boycotting, divesting from and promoting the imposition of sanctions upon Israel. It says explicitly that it will give to groups doing these things as long as BDS is not their principle focus or area of activism – something that will be cold comfort for Israel, which is battling a hostile campaign of delegitimization. Put simply, NIF has shown it is on the side of Israel’s delegitimizers, not Israel.

“NIF raises money from American Jewry to support Israeli causes but often directs its funds to groups and individuals hostile to Israel’s existence. If NIF were honestly a pro-Israel organization, it would exclude groups that seek to boycott, divest from or promote imposing sanctions upon, Israel.

“Unfortunately, NIF misleads many sincere, liberal supporters of Israel into thinking that, in supporting NIF, they are supporting Israel, but this isn’t true. American Jews need to be aware of the actual causes that the NIF have been lavishly funding for years and might want to reconsider their support in light of these revelations. Those that the NIF support frequently have a very different agenda from the goal of building up and strengthening Israel as a Jewish, democratic state.”

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