The late Saul Alinsky, author of Reveille for Radicals, is the patron saint of community organizers, such as President Obama in his early days. J Street, the lobbying group that describes itself as pro-Israel, but has never been able to identify any policy of the Israeli government that it supports, refers to Alinsky as their "rabbi." But I must confess that there is one Alinsky dictum that is supported by numerous examples: "Immoral enemies make stupid mistakes."
A case in point would be the New Israel Fund (NIF). NIF's last annual budget was $32,000,000, and, according to its website, the organization has distributed over $200,000,000 to more than 800 "cutting-edge" organizations since its inception. The NIF claims credit for building Israel's civil society from scratch, and through its action arm SHATIL, mentoring and training Israeli civil society "in an ongoing struggle to empower the underprivileged." Most of the NIF's funding comes from contributions by American Jews and Jewish federations drawn to its expressed mission of advancing religious pluralism and aiding minority and other downtrodden groups in Israeli society. Between 2003-2008, it also received $20,000,000 in funding from the Ford Foundation.
Donors to the NIF are told that the organization supports Israel as a Jewish state and opposes the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. What donors are not told is that many of the organizations supported by NIF call for the "right of return" and denounce Israel as a Jewish state.
The Coalition of Women for Peace, an NIF grantee, recently sponsored a speech by Naomi Klein in support of the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BSD) against Israel. NIF grant recipients – including CPW, Mossawa, and Machsom Watch – petitioned the Norwegian government for economic sanctions against Israel.
Ittijah, an umbrella group of Israel Arab NGO's, issued a statement prior to its attendance at Durban II in Geneva, in which it charged that "the Jewish character of the state of Israel contradicts international law" and referred to the "racist character" of the State. The draft constitution prepared for Israel by Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Arab Rights in Israel, another NIF grantee, calls for Israel to recognize responsibility for the Nakba of its creation and to acknowledge the Palestinian "right of return." Adalah actively participated in the preparations for the U.N. sponsored Israel-bashing fest at Durban I and in the drafting of the conference resolutions.
The director until recently of I'lam – the Media Cener for Arab Palestinians in Israel, Balad MK Hanin Zoabi, was one of the signatories of the Haifa Declaration calling for the negation of Israel's Jewish character. She supports Iran's quest for nuclear weapons and has participated in Israel Apartheid week activities in the United States. The organization's Empowerment Coordinator calls for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes and its director of International Relations describes Hamas as "a genuinely emancipatory liberation and resistance movement."
Zochrot, another organization supported by the NIF, is described by Ma'ariv's Ben-Dror Yemini, as openly calling for the destruction of Israel through exercise of the "right of return."
While the directors of NIF may not actually wish for the destruction of the State of Israel, they apparently believe that the "justice" of Israel's existence can only be maintained by a return to the 1949 armistice lines, and that the best means of achieving that goal is international pressure on Israel. To that end, delegitimization of Israel is justified as serving Israel's real interest. The NIF has joined in an unholy alliance with the EU, various European governments, the Ford Foundation, and George Soros's Open Society Institute to portray Israel as an apartheid, warmongering state. (Soros was the major early backer of J Street). Many NIF grantees are also funded by the latter groups.
NIF also tells donors that it does not fund organizations that engage in propaganda or support boycotts of Israel. That claim is blatantly false, as the above examples make clear.
I have been writing about the NIF since 2001. In a March 30, 2001 piece in the Jerusalem Post, I described some of the NIF's then recipients:
"One of NIF's beneficiaries is the Israel-Palestine Friendship Center in Tel Aviv. The Center actively promotes the Palestinian "right of return" to their pre-1948 homes. Two weeks ago, Russian language journalist Israel Shamir told a largely Jewish audience, "Jews only exist to drip the blood of Palestinian children into their matzas." No one protested.
Another NIF recipient is Bat Shalom. From 1994 to 1996, Bat Shalom campaigned for the release of Abi Waheidi, who led a terrorist cell that murdered Zvi Klein after stopping his car and dragging him from it. After her release, Waheidi, who was praised by Arafat as the model Palestinian woman, vowed to continue her terrorist activities and refused to express regret for murdering Klein.
Jeffrey Halper of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions, an NIF recommendee, travels throughout American with a Palestinian colleague denouncing the "Nazi" and "apartheid" house demolition policies of the Israel. Halper speaks sympathetically of his Palestinian allies who cannot agree to accept a two-state solution for fear of foreclosing a unitary state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean." (Halper is no longer supported by the NIF.)
THIS INFORMATION has been readily available for at least a decade in reports produced by the Center for Near Eastern Policy Research and more recently NGOMonitor. Unfortunately, few have bothered to pay attention. Last week, however, a Zionist student group, Im Tirzu, succeeded in finally getting the Israeli public and Jewish supporters of Israel abroad to pay attention, with a series of ads showing Naomi Chazan, the chairman of NIF in Israel, with a horn on her head (a pun on the identity of the Hebrew word for horn and that for fund). Simultaneously, Im Tirzu released a study showing that the Goldstone Report relied very heavily on the testimony and "research" of NIF-sponsored NGOs, a debt fully acknowledged by Judge Goldstone himself in his final report. According to the Im Tirzu report, 92% of the negative citations concerning Israel army conduct during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza from Israeli sources were drawn from reports of 16 NGOs supported by the NIF.
Another report produced by NGO Monitor listed 56 citations to B'Tselem, 38 to Adalah, and 27 to Breaking the Silence in the Goldstone Report. All are funded by the NIF. Public Committee Versus Torture, Adalah, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel participated in the planning sessions for the Goldstone Commission in Geneva under the sponsorship of the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council, an organization dominated by the world's worst human rights abusers and which rarely, if ever, finds any human rights abuser other than Israel to condemn. Seven other NIF-sponsored organizations submitted a statement to the Commission in which they referred to "Palestinian martyrs" and the "collective punishment" imposed on Gaza. In addition, they charged that Israel had no military goal in Operation Cast Lead.
Im Tirzu succeeded in drawing attention where others had failed. In part, that is a result of the great damage done by the NIF through the Goldstone Report and its aftermath. The Im Tirzu report revealed that "major NIF organizations signed a letter calling on Britain to prosecute senior IDF officials for war crimes." The threat of being arrested under warrants of universal jurisdiction has already forced Tzippi Livni, foreign minister at the time of Operation Cast Lead and opposition leader today, to cancel one planned visit to Britain. And many senior IDF commanders fear to travel to Europe at all for the same reason. Neither the IDF nor the Israeli political echelons take kindly to being treated as common criminals if they travel abroad.
More important, the Goldstone Report constitutes a very grave threat to Israel. If Israel's actions in Operation Cast Lead constitute "war crimes," as the Goldstone Commission found, relying in large part on NIF-sponsored NGOs, then Israel simply cannot defend itself without incurring international opprobrium and possible sanctions. Israel re-entered the Gaza Strip in force only after thousands of missiles had been fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians in the wake of Israel's total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip two years earlier. As Professor Asa Kasher, who drafted the Code of Ethics for the IDF, points out, every nation has a right to defend its citizens from attack and a duty to its own citizens to do so.
Not only was Israel duty-bound to defend its citizens, but it took extraordinary steps to protect Palestinian civilians in doing so. Colonel Richard Kemp, the former British high commander in Afghanistan, says that no nation in history has ever gone to the extraordinary lengths Israel did to protect civilians. Among those steps were 150,000 warning calls to evacuate neighborhoods in which terrorists were holed up, the dropping of leaflets, and the firing of dummy ammunition in advance of operations. It was Hamas terrorists, not the IDF, who elected to carry out their terror assaults from amidst civilian areas and to hide in them.
Professor Kasher compares Israel's actions to the American assault on Fallujah in Iraq to rout out 3,000 insurgents. Six thousand Iraqis were killed in the latter operation, of whom only one-fifth to one-third were insurgents, ten thousand buildings destroyed (one-fifth of the buildings in the city), including 60 mosques in which ammunition was stored. The destruction in Gaza was far, far smaller, and of the 1,400 Palestinians killed (according to their own notoriously bloated figures) most were armed combatants.
Every Israeli territorial withdrawal since the beginning of the Oslo process has resulted in Israeli civilians being subjected to new terror attacks. In addition, each of those withdrawals has resulted in further damage to Israel's international standing, as the IDF is eventually forced to act against the terrorist attacks, as in Operation Defensive Shield (2002) and Operation Cast Lead, only to find itself accused of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity."
The NIF has played a major role in that process. Last week, however, there were for the first time signs that the Jews of the world are finally awakening to the menace of the NIF. Naomi Chazan was pointedly disinvited from giving a speech by a Reform temple in Melbourne. And Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz informed her that the paper would no longer publish her bi-weekly Friday column.
It could not have happened to nicer people. And the young activists of Im Tirzu deserve a great deal of credit.