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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Israel Fund supports anti-Zionist propaganda

There is no doubt that the New Israel Fund means well - or at least many of its members and contributors do. But there is also no doubt that the New Israel Fund supports or collects funds for some of the most odious organizations in Israel - organizations whose goals have nothing to do with democracy and nothing to do with peace - organizations whose only goal is to besmirch Israel and to destroy Zionism and the Jewish state.

Zochrot is one example of these organizations. It organizes activities to perpetuate the myth that Israel was founded by "ethnic cleansing" of hapless and peaceful Palestinians who were minding their own business in 1948 - the Palestine Nakba myth. Its brochure claims that Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. Its Web site links to the BADIL organization, that is dedicated to blocking any solution to the Palestinian refugee problem other than return to original (nonexisting) homes in Israel. New Israel fund also supports the innocently named "Coalition of Women for Peace" which is likewise involved in the delegitimation of Israel and Zionism, as well as New Profile, an organization noted for encouraging draft dodging.

The activities of New Israel Fund have been known for some time. The controversy over them was ignited by a study soon to be released by a right-wing group, Im Tirzu, which claims:

92 percent of the negative citations used in the Goldstone Report to criticize the IDF’s conduct in Gaza last year came from 16 Israeli NGOs, which Im Tirtzu has alleged received some $7.8 million in financial support from the NIF in 2008-2009 alone.

Among the NGOs listed in the report are Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Doctors for Human Rights, Gisha, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Itach, Other Voice, New Profile, Machsom Watch and Who Profits from the Occupation.

Im Tirtzu has its own political ax to grind, and showed execrable judgment in ad hominem attacks on Meretz politician Naomi Hazan, currently president of the international board of the New Israel Fund. The Im Tirtzu ad caricatured her with an "N.I.F." horn and titled her "Naomi Goldstone Hazan." In Hebrew, the word for horn is keren, which also means fund. This clever pun was lost on English speaking readers of course, who only saw a Jew with a horn.

The ad claimed that without the New Israel Fund there would not have been a Goldstone report. But we know that the New Israel Fund didn't initiate the Goldstone report, and that committee members were determined to find Israel guilty regardless of the evidence. There would have been a different Goldstone report without the New Israel Fund, with the same conclusions,

Hazan didn't initiate the Goldstone report and is not responsible for its findings. As president of the international board she may have much power, but it is doubtful if she is solely responsible for approving the funding requests of each organization. There was no excuse for their obnoxious advertisement, nor is Naomi Hazan responsible for all the output of all these organizations. Hazan is a passionate advocate of peace and is entitled to her opinion, though New Israel Fund doesn't have to support it. Im Tirtzu's regrettable misuse of their findings gave enemies of Israel just the opening they needed to destroy the credibility of a legitimate finding.

However, Im TIrtzu deserve the same hearing as others. The "rights" advocates ask us to separate the political message of groups like New Profile from the facts they present. There are, for example, real human rights violations at checkpoints that don't serve the cause of Israel in any way, and Machsomwatch exposes them. That doesn't mean Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state and it doesn't mean Zionism is racism, but it points out a fault that is in urgent need of correction. However, the same advocates who want us to accept testimony from Machsom Watch or Betselem, have no problem trying to discredit the facts that Im Tirtzu presents as the work of "settlers." It doesn't matter who said it. It matters that it is true.

Nobody denies that N.I.F. supports these organizations, and it is a fact that most of these organizations are out to destroy Israel. We need to separate the message from the messenger. It is too bad that middle of the road, responsible groups, including peace groups who are desperately in need of funds, did not dare to raise the issue of New Israel's selective funding of radicals, and left it to Im Tirzu. Where were all the Tikkun Olam people when Zochrot and Adallah were telling lies about Israel? Isn't correction of falsehoods also Tikkun Olam?

A recent article by Solomonia about New Israel Fund attracted vigorous protests claiming that these organizations are only fighting for civil rights and pointing out injustices. Let's be clear. If there is an injustice in any democratic society, it is the duty of citizens to report it, to highlight it and to fight it. But the way to fight Jim Crow in the United States was not to join the Cominform and insist that America must be destroyed. Similarly injustices in Israel cannot be fixed by those who advocate the destruction of Israel. Decapitation is not a good way to cure headaches. The Arab society that would replace Israel would not have the same respect for human rights, and there are also the human rights of Israeli Jews to consider. We are also human and have rights.

It is right and proper for any organization to give evidence to an investigatory commission, but it is wrong for them to give fabricated evidence, to claim that dead terrorists are civilians and to pass off hearsay as fact. It is right to point out inhumane behavior at checkpoints. It is wrong to use instances of brutality in a campaign to delegitimize the state. It is right for Breaking the Silence to uncover abuses by the army, and to provide documentation of these abuses to Israelis. It is wrong for Breaking the Silence to take their traveling road show of Israeli atrocity stories to US campuses, and show it to 18 year olds who never served in the army, never heard of Hamas and have no other background information about the Middle East. Adallah has the right to advocate for an Arab Palestinian state perhaps, but it is simply insane for New Israel Fund to collect money from Zionist Jews to give to an organization of that type, and we do not need Im Tirtzu to tell us that.

How can we explain the fact that Jews, not necessarily anti-Zionist Jews either, founded and contribute to and support a charity that funds organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel and defamation of the Jewish people? Rather than advancing peace and democracy in Israel, these activities make "peace" and "democracy" into hateful words among the Israeli Jewish public, because in propaganda, "peace," "democracy" and "justice" have been made synonymous with defamation and genocide of the Jewish people, destruction of Israel and dissemination of lies. Are there no causes in Israel and no organizations that really advance peace and democracy that are more worthy of funding by the NIF than the mendacious political extremists and degenerates of groups like Zochrot?

An article by Ben-Dror Yemini, translated from Hebrew, explains the Israeli Zionist point of view:

(Translation of Article by Ben-Dror Yemini, Ma'ariv, 2.2.10)

The New Israel Fund is part of the global deception campaign. It does not deal with human rights but with denying one people's right to self-determination.

The New Israel Fund is angry. It thinks that it is correct to spread false testimony about the State of Israel. It thinks that it is OK to participate in the demonization campaign of groups whose goal is to eliminate Israel. It thinks that it is OK to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, even though it was established by the automatic majority of dark countries that controls the "UN Human Rights Council." It thinks that it is OK for Israel to cooperate with the Commission even though no country in the free world supported its establishment. It is certainly legitimate, in a democratic country, to do all these things.

But there is something else that is also legitimate: Expose the truth about the Fund and the groups that falsely carry the description "human rights." If most of the political groups that are supported by the Fund do not recognize the State of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state – do not say human rights. Tell the truth: Denial of rights only for Jews. The Palestinians have the right to a state, a national state, of their own, just as the Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and other peoples do – but not the Jews.

For example, the New Israel Fund supports the Zochrot non-profit association, which openly aspires to eliminate the State of Israel via the realization of the "right of return." Not that there is any such right and not that there has been even one precedent of a mass "return" after post-war population exchanges – but this does not bother the Fund. It always jumps at the slogan "human rights."

None of this is to say that Israel is exempt from criticism. Among the hundreds of claims, there are those that have merit. But many sane people abhor the human rights bodies, not because they abhor human rights, on the contrary. It is because most sane people are fed up that human rights have become a weapon for dark forces.

The New Israel Fund has turned itself into yet another body, one among many in the world, that are party to global deception. There are a million and one attacks on human life and human rights in the world. Israel, as a state in the midst of conflict, makes fewer attacks than any other element. This has been verified. This is anchored in numbers. But it is Israel that absorbs most of the criticism. This is called demonization, delegitimization and obsession.

There is no defense of human rights here but rather an orchestrated campaign in the service of Iran and Hamas. This is not the Fund's intention but this is the result. Things should be called by their name. Most of the groups supported by the Fund deal in the delegitimization of Israel. But the Fund rolls its eyes and whines: What is wrong with human rights? There is nothing wrong. There is something wrong with those who clearly aspire to deny the Jews' right to exist in the only place where they have sovereignty, in order to turn Israel into a "state of all its citizens," in which the majority will be Hamas supporters. There is something wrong with those who want to perpetrate politicide on only one people in the world. There is something wrong with those who collaborate with dark forces and try to sell the lie that it is all about "human rights."

How is it that so many people, mainly Jews, support the Fund? How is it they facilitate this systematic campaign that masquerades as humanitarian and is, in effect, demonic? They are not anti-Semites. They are people with good intentions. Their rhetoric deals with human rights and minorities. Jews are sensitive to this and good for them. Most are simply unaware. Most truly and innocently want Israel to be more enlightened and more progressive, and stricter about human life and human rights. But they do not know that the money goes to other goals.

Even Professor Naomi Chazan, who heads the Fund, does not hate Israel. But what has happened to countless bodies that deal with "the rights talk" has happened to them. In the end, they serve the agenda of Iran and Hamas.

Human rights groups can restore the confidence in themselves. They need to support human rights, not groups that deal in denying Israel's right to exist. In the meantime, these groups, including the New Israel Fund, are the major enemy, not only of Israel but of the free world and human rights.

Not every group funded by the New Israel Fund is anti-Zionist. We don't want New Israel Fund to stop funding projects in Israel and we certainly want them to encourage human rights, democracy and peace. But responsible people who really care about these issues should ask of the N.I.F. that it limits its funding to groups that really support democracy and human rights, not groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel.

Ami Isseroff

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