(Commentary Magazine) Two Wikileaks cables from 2010 confirm with stunning accuracy the critique of Israel’s foreign-funded NGO movement that many have been making for years — and they do so from the mouths of the NGO leaders themselves. The cables summarize meetings between U.S. officials and leaders of the New Israel Fund, B’Tselem, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, called ACRI, a flagship NIF project. In one cable, we learn that leaders of these groups have been telling U.S. officials the Israeli legal system is incapable of investigating claims against the Israeli government and military. In fact, Israel’s judiciary, both civil and military, is among the world’s most independent, and the former president of Israel’s High Court was cited by President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, as a significant role model. Yet advancing claims of judicial indifference to war crimes has become a central ambition of the NGOs, because establishing Israel’s supposed inability to investigate itself would open the door to international prosecutions where verdicts against Israel are foreordained. The credible prospect of such prosecutions would paralyze the IDF — which is exactly the point: Limor Yehuda of ACRI argued that military police investigations could not resolve the main issues of how Israel conducted the military operation [Operation Cast Lead], including its targeting and policy decisions…she believed only international pressure could influence the GOI [Government of Israel] to create an independent investigation that could hold senior leadership accountable for alleged violations. And here is Jessica Montell, the head of B’Tselem: She wanted the highest level decision-makers held accountable for the decisions they made on how to prosecute the conflict, including Military Advocate General (MAG) Mandelblit…Her aim, she said, was to make Israel weigh world opinion and consider whether it could “afford another operation like this.” What Montell means by that last sentence is frighteningly clear: she wants to create the conditions in which “world opinion” can prevent the IDF from defending Israelis from attack. Then there is a cable about a draft Knesset bill (since extensively modified) that seeks greater transparency for foreign-funded NGOs: B’Tselem Director Jessica Montell…estimated her 9 million NIS ($2.4 million) budget is 95 percent funded from abroad, mostly from European countries. Here Montell is giving credence to what B’Tselem’s critics, such as NGO Monitor, have been saying for years: that the group is essentially an arm of European foreign policy, more interested in condemning Israel than in promoting human rights. And then there’s the bombshell: New Israel Fund (NIF) Associate Director in Israel Hedva Radovanitz, who manages grants to 350 NGOs totaling about 18 million dollars per year, [said] that the campaign against the NGOs was due to the “disappearance of the political left wing” in Israel and the lack of domestic constituency for the NGOs. She noted that when she headed ACRI’s Tel Aviv office, ACRI had 5,000 members, while today it has less than 800, and it was only able to muster about 5,000 people to its December human rights march by relying on the active staff of the 120 NGOs that participated. She commented that she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic. [Emphasis added] The reasoning behind NIF’s multi-million dollar donations to Arab groups such as Adalah and Mada al-Carmel that seek the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State suddenly becomes clear: In the words of a high-ranking NIF official, the group believes Zionism itself — that is, Jewish national self-determination — is anti-democratic and should eventually yield to an Arab state where Jews will once again live as a minority. It seems the “New Israel” envisioned by NIF will not be a Jewish state. Has NIF made this clear to its American Jewish donors? During the past decade, as the New Israel Fund and European governments have funded and fueled the delegitimization war on Israel, critics have argued the NGOs they support have no real constituency in Israel; that they represent foreign interests; that they are funded — all told, the sum is around $100 million per year — almost entirely by foreign foundations and European governments seeking to impose their agendas; that they seek to overturn the democratic choices of the Israeli people; that they foment external pressure and “lawfare” to prevent Israel from protecting herself from threats; and that the groups’ activism is motivated not by the claimed values of human rights and international law, but by varying degrees of anti-Zionism and solidarity with Arab interests and leftist anti-Israel activism. At every turn, the NGOs have angrily denied these charges and smeared those who made them as being (take your pick) anti-peace, anti-human rights, anti-democracy, or extremist right-wingers attempting to silence dissent. It is a remarkable moment in this battle to see the NGOs admit in private the same things they slander their critics for saying about them in public. These revelations should encourage the Israeli government to finally make European funding of anti-Israel NGOs a major point of contention in bilateral relations, and they should encourage greater scrutiny of the New Israel Fund, a philanthropic giant that not only dispenses millions of dollars a year to anti-Israel groups, but creates and helps run the groups through its Shatil organization. The pro-Israel community can expose the destructive ambitions of NIF and its European collaborators for an eternity. But ultimately, the ability of foreigners to wage a political war on Israel from within Israel’s borders will only be stopped when Israelis and their elected representatives recognize the seriousness of the problem and enact legislation to address it. America passed just such a law in 1938. It’s high time Israel followed suit.
Why is the New Israel Fund leaving comments for a guy like me?
What was this about these leftists not being violent? We all have empathy for Noam, and I’d probably not be invited to any of Daphni’s parties, but can the ladies please regain composure?
Daphni… Cheesecake. Someone pinch her ass or something.
- In July 2011, New Israel Fund (NIF) published its 2010 Financial Statement. This document details NIF funding for Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) in 2010, and indicates that funds were also earmarked for 2011. (CWP is a leader of anti-Israel BDS campaigns.)
- The statement reveals that in 2010, NIF authorized an additional $20,130 for CWP, and disbursed $36,503, including $16,373 authorized in previous years that had not been transferred. (NGO Monitor reports show that NIF provided approximately $300,000 to CWP in previous years.)
- On May 12, 2011, an official NIF statement declared that “NIF provided its last direct grant to CWP in 2008” and subsequent transfers were “donor advised.” NIF’s financial statements do not distinguish between direct and donor advised grants, making NIF’s claim unverifiable. Nevertheless, under U.S. tax law, and as reflected in NIF’s 2009 and 2010 financial documents, “donor advised” grants are within the sole discretion of the NIF Board of Directors. No money may be distributed to any grantee without the approval of the NIF board, and donors are notified in advance that disbursements require that approval. NIF has full responsibility – morally, legally, and financially – for the 2010 $36,503 disbursement to CWP.
- NIF’s May 12, 2011 press release was headlined: “NGO Monitor attacks New Israel Fund based on information it knew to be wrong.” NIF’s release of its 2010 funding information unequivocally reaffirms the accuracy of NGO Monitor’s reports. (NIF has not apologized.)
- In a May 20, 2011 statement, NIF-Australia head Robin Margo declared that CWP “has received no further funding from NIF since 2009” and criticized Dr. Ron Weiser (Zionist Council of New South Wales, Australia) for “suggesting publically… that funding may have continued into 2010.”
- According to the NIF financial statement, $6,000 remained to be granted to CWP in 2011. This is consistent with CWP’s statement that NIF continued to provide funds in 2011. (NIF later claimed that “Due to a clerical error, $100 was processed to CWP in May.” NIF did not relate to the $6,000 amount.)