Stand up for NIF, stand up for Israeli democracy

A guest post by Progressive Zionist.

A smear campaign was launched last week against leading Israeli social justice organisation, the New Israel Fund. In what Meretz MK Haim Oron, described as a “show trial,” NIF has been blasted for apparently being the “life-force” behind the UN’s Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead and the delegitimisation of Israel in the international court of opinion.

But this campaign to discredit NIF and its grantee organisations amounts to nothing less than an attack on freedom of speech.

So what did NIF do wrong?

On 29 January 2010, Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv published the findings of a report by right-wing student group, Im Tirtzu, claiming that over 90% of allegations against the IDF in the Goldstone report came from 16 NIF-funded Israeli NGOs. The following day Im Tirtzu organised a demonstration outside the Jerusalem home of NIF president, Prof Naomi Hazan (pictured), with dozens of activists dressed as Hamas terrorists, as well as running an advert in the Jerusalem Post depicting a demonic Prof Hazan wearing a horn.

It didn’t take long for Im Tirtzu’s “research” to be debunked and dismembered. Anshel Pfeffer did a good job in Ha’aretz:

What is being said here? Im Tirzu is not claiming that any of the information supplied by these organizations was false. It is simply questioning the very legitimacy of free speech in Israel.

In support of Israeli democracy

NIF is a philanthropic organisation that funds over 300 organisations working to make Israel a better country, in line with the vision of its founding fathers. NIF grantees pursue social justice, civil and human rights, religious pluralism and safeguarding the environment.

One need not agree with every position of every organisation that NIF funds, which range from Breaking the Silence and B’tselem to Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. But supporters of democracy should stand up for the New Israel Fund – and many already have, including journalists from Ma’ariv itself.

Ori Nir from Americans for Peace Now said it succinctly:

The New Israel Fund is an asset to Israel‘s democracy, as are its grantee organizations. Attempts to silence them should not be tolerated by the Israeli public and by friends of a free and democratic Israel worldwide.“

But this sorry episode has left me with a feeling of déjà vu.

One thing that struck me is how many NIF grantees would find themselves boycotted by anti-Israel activists here in the UK. For instance, Israeli groups that promote cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

There’s an uneasy parallel between the recent McCarthyist attacks on NIF and the British Left-Islamist coalition’s campaign to silence and boycott those who fail to tow their party line of an Israel-free Middle East. It seems that the two sides have more in common that they would like to admit.

See also my Greens Engage post, New Israel Fund needs international solidarity; Jews outside Israel need theirs.

A smear campaign was launched last week against leading Israeli social justice organisation, the New Israel Fund. In what Meretz MK Haim Oron, described as a “show trial,” NIF has been blasted for apparently being the “life-force” behind the UN’s Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead and the delegitimisation of Israel in the international court of opinion.

But this campaign to discredit NIF and its grantee organisations amounts to nothing less than an attack on freedom of speech.

So what did NIF do wrong?

On 29 January 2010, Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv published the findings of a report by right-wing student group, Im Tirtzu, claiming that over 90% of allegations against the IDF in the Goldstone report came from 16 NIF-funded Israeli NGOs. The following day Im Tirtzu organised a demonstration outside the Jerusalem home of NIF president, Prof Naomi Hazan (pictured), with dozens of activists dressed as Hamas terrorists, as well as running an advert in the Jerusalem Post depicting a demonic Prof Hazan wearing a horn.

It didn’t take long for Im Tirtzu’s “research” to be debunked and dismembered. Anshel Pfeffer did a good job in Ha’aretz:

What is being said here? Im Tirzu is not claiming that any of the information supplied by these organizations was false. It is simply questioning the very legitimacy of free speech in Israel.

In support of Israeli democracy

NIF is a philanthropic organisation that funds over 300 organisations working to make Israel a better country, in line with the vision of its founding fathers. NIF grantees pursue social justice, civil and human rights, religious pluralism and safeguarding the environment.

One need not agree with every position of every organisation that NIF funds, which range from Breaking the Silence and B’tselem to Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. But supporters of democracy should stand up for the New Israel Fund – and many already have, including journalists from Ma’ariv itself.

Ori Nir from Americans for Peace Now said it succintly:

The New Israel Fund is an asset to Israel‘s democracy, as are its grantee organizations. Attempts to silence them should not be tolerated by the Israeli public and by friends of a free and democratic Israel worldwide.“

But this sorry episode has left me with a feeling of déjà vu.

One thing that struck me is how many NIF grantees would find themselves boycotted by anti-Israel activists here in the UK. For instance, Israeli groups that promote cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

There’s an uneasy parallel between the recent McCarthyist attacks on NIF and the British Left-Islamist coalition’s campaign to silence and boycott those who fail to tow their party line of an Israel-free Middle East. It seems that the two sides have more in common that they would like to admit.

:: New Israel Fund UK on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/newisraelfunduk?ref=ts

:: New Israel Fund (Israel website) http://www.nif.org/

:: coteret.com Hebrew news from the Israel media in English

:: Prof Naomi Hazan sacked by Jerusalem Post. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1147998.html

75 Responses to “Stand up for NIF, stand up for Israeli democracy”

  1. empress trudy Says:

    No one has contested the facts of the criticism of the NIF. Yet the NIF feels that pointing out these facts is somehow a suppression of their rights to free speech. Well as the boxer Muhammed Ali said, “It ain’t braggin if it’s true.” And while it is true one does not have to agree with everything they do, it helps if they are more or less transparent as to their real agenda. If it turned out for instance that the SPCA was really gathering up animals to turn them into food, I’d like to know that regardless of what other plausibly good things they do.

  2. Bialik Says:

    For a more nuanced account of the NIF affair see Lozowick here http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/

  3. Absolute Observer Says:

    Under the current rightist administration, there has been an increasing number of attacks on the secular and liberal traditions and its spokesperson within Israel. The treatment of NIF is but one of an increasing number of incidents that show the arrogance of power by a very nasty right-wing government comprising religious zealots, authoritarian rightists and a frankly embarrassing fascistic foreign minister.

    Incidents include the alleged power of some rabbinical courts to annul orthodox conversions; of attempts to replace trilingual official signs currently in the two national languages, Hebrew and Arabic as well as English) with Hebrew only; and of a general hostile attitude of those who criticise the government on both domestic issues as well as those relating to the Palestinians.

    Contrary to what others may argue, the right in Israel is not unique. They are simply doing what many rightist governments do. And, since the Israeli right is not unique, neither is opposing them in the name of a more progressive politics.

    Whilst the boycotters wish to leave the left and liberals in Israel isolated in the face of these attacks (after all, for them a Zionist is a Zionist is a Zionist) it behoves all of us with a more progressive politics to show our support and solidarity with NIF and like minded groups (B’Tselem, Gisha, to name but two).

    This from the NIF webpage.

    When a right-wing group with a destructive agenda and a lot of money taps into the Israeli public’s anger, the results are usually not pretty.
    That’s what happened last week when a new organization made a big splash in Israel by accusing the New Israel Fund and its grantees of being behind the Goldstone Report. Timed to capitalize on the anger many Israelis feel about the Goldstone conclusions, and personalized with a particularly despicable attack on NIF President Naomi Chazan, the attack was the latest salvo in a coordinated attempt to de-legitimize civil society, repress the activities of the human rights community and weaken Israeli democracy. It comes as no surprise to discover that this new group is funded by the same abundant money that flows to extremist settlers’ organizations, including a sizable contribution from John Hagee’s “Christians United for Israel” – a group that once stated that “Hitler was carrying out God’s will.”
    To our many friends and supporters who have already leapt to our defense, thank you. To those of you who know the New Israel Fund as the leading organization advancing democracy and equality in Israel, with a thirty-year record of serious accomplishment, we ask you to support us as we combat the increasingly authoritarian and extremist ideology taking hold in Israel.
    This is the latest in a series of attacks on the social justice community in Israel.
    Several weeks ago Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of longtime NIF grantee the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal advocacy arm of the Reform movement, was hauled into a police station, fingerprinted and interrogated for her prayer sessions at the Kotel with Women of the Wall. A week later, it was the arrest of Hagai El-Ad, the CEO of NIF’s flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), during a peaceful demonstration in East Jerusalem that ACRI was monitoring to protect freedom of speech.
    Now it is us.
    A number of the civil and human rights organizations that are funded and supported by NIF have written challenging, thoughtful criticisms of how the Israeli military behaved during Gaza Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. The most recent attacks on NIF claim that if only we didn’t exist, if only we didn’t support these organizations in their work, Goldstone would not have had the evidence needed to come to the conclusions presented in his report.
    The ugly language and personal threats against NIF and our President are all too reminiscent of the atmosphere of incitement and hatred that preceded the Rabin assassination. Sadly, these vicious attacks are being launched against the very organizations that protect Israel and its international reputation as a vibrant democracy.
    The human rights organizations that examined and reported on human rights concerns during and after the Gaza operation were the first to declare that the Israeli government must launch an independent inquiry into the events of Gaza. They were acting out of a profound sense of patriotism and love of Israel. They are not monolithic and differ on many issues, including the conclusions of the Goldstone report.
    As Americans who remember the role of our own human rights organizations in exposing the abuses of torture during the last administration, we understand full well that it is the role of social justice and civil society to hold up a mirror to society, and work towards making change. In Israel, where security concerns are always paramount, we should be especially proud of the record of the human rights groups we have incubated and supported and their enormous contribution to Israeli democracy.
    NIF has been attacked before for our role as the lead funder of social justice and human rights in Israel. We continue to be a lightning rod for those who insist that Israel is always right. But as our board member and former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said at last Sunday’s Town Hall Meeting, perhaps many years ago the existential threats to Israel’s continued existence warranted disregard for its flaws for the sake of survival, but no longer. Today, the question is not whether Israel survives, but what kind of Israel survives. As Professor Chazan said that day, the question is not whether Israel is always right or always wrong but what we will do to solve the very real problems Israel has.
    NIF stands for the efforts of thousands of Israelis and Diaspora Jews who are dedicated to working towards the Israel they know to be possible; one which upholds the dignity of all of its people.
    Please stand with us, and our family of organizations, and contribute what you can, as we deepen our commitment to a just and democratic Israel.
    Sincerely,

    Daniel Sokatch
    Chief Executive Officer

  4. Steven Says:

    Quoted from:
    http://fresnozionism.org/2010/02/an-assault-of-illogic/

    The flap over Im Tirtzu’s exposé of the New Israel Fund’s (NIF) support of left-wing Israeli organizations that contributed to the slanderous Goldstone report gets bigger every day.

    > Naomi Chazan, the fund’s president, was dis-invited from a speaking tour of Australia.
    > After Chazan threatened to sue the Jerusalem Post, the Post dropped her as a regular columnist.
    > There are calls in the Knesset to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the NIF and foreign funding of Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
    > A group of high-ranking reserve officers signed a petition supporting Im Tirtzu against the NIF.

    It’s hard to exaggerate the feelings of most Israelis about the Goldstone report, which many see as a modern-day blood libel. Even many members of the so-called ‘peace camp’ feel that the report goes too far in crediting Palestinian accusations against Israel for alleged ‘war crimes’ in Gaza, while downplaying and ignoring real crimes perpetrated by Hamas. So when Im Tirtzu pointed out that the 16 Israeli groups that produced a large majority of the anti-IDF ‘documentation’ — most of which is clearly false — were all grantees of the NIF, there was immediate outrage against the US-based fund.

    Supporters of the fund in Israel and the US struck back with an assault of illogic, red herrings, ad hominem arguments and manufactured outrage at Im Tirtzu’s advertisments, but did little to refute the content of its criticism.

    For example, David Saperstein of the US Reform Movement complained that:

    “In their twisted attribution of blame for the Goldstone Report to the NIF, these attackers are trying to delegitimize the New Israel Fund in much the same way that the Goldstone Report is being used to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world. It is ironic, to say the least, that those pointing to the danger of the Goldstone Report are using the same tactics of half-truths, hyperbole and sweeping generalizations they criticize in it to delegitimize the New Israel Fund.”

    But Im Tirtzu did not present half-truths or generalizations about the citations in the Goldstone report. They counted them. Saperstein, like many of Im Tirtzu’s critics, claims that they left out all of the ‘good things’ that NIF grantees do. But this is beside the point, which is to show that many of the NGOs that they support do the work of Israel’s enemies. And speaking of hyperbole, the Goldstone report accused Israel of deliberate murder of a civilian population, of war crimes; this is hardly the same as an analysis of the uses to which NIF money is put.

    Other critics relied on tenuous chains of guilt by association. Im Tirtzu received grants from something called the “Central Fund of Israel”. Now, follow this: the Central Fund also supports an organization called Honenu, which has provided funds for the legal defense of settlers who were (rather brutally) removed from outposts by police, for soldiers accused of harming Palestinians, and for some right-wing extremists (who nevertheless are entitled to legal representation). How this proves that Im Tirtzu is itself an extremist group, and how it has any bearing on its findings about the NIF escapes me.

    They also trumpet the fact that Im Tirtzu got $100,000 from Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which has raised huge amounts of money for such things as bomb shelters in Sderot, as well as making grants to local Jewish Federations in the US to direct to Israel. CUFI is unpopular as a result of the socially conservative views of its founder, Pastor John Hagee, but its largess has been distributed mostly to noncontroversial pro-Israel causes.

    Other critics claimed that Im Tirtzu’s cartoon showing Naomi Chazan wearing an unflattering rhinoceros horn were outrageous and antisemitic. This too is entirely irrelevant to their charges.

    Finally, many of the attacks take the form of saying that Im Tirtzu wishes to ‘muzzle’ free speech and democratic criticism of Israeli policy. This is so absurd that it beggars description. The NIF, with its huge resources — it received $40 million in grants from the Ford Foundation alone — and its powerful friends, like the Reform movement in America, is clearly a Goliath in media presence compared to the tiny student organization that is Im Tirtzu. But since they couldn’t refute Im Tirtzu’s facts, they chose to accuse it of “McCarthyism.”

    The 16 NGOs mentioned by Im Tirtzu 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, [Physicians] for Human Rights [ — Israel], Gisha, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Itach, Other Voice, New Profile, Machsom Watch and Who Profits from the Occupation.

    It’s important to realize that these groups have done far more than contribute to the Goldstone report. Some of them are Israeli Arab (oops, ‘Palestinians living in Israel’) groups supposedly working for civil rights for Arab citizens but actually pushing an agenda to change Israel from a Jewish state to a bi-national “state of its citizens” with a new flag and national anthem, and in which the Arab minority would have veto power of government decisions.

    Breaking the Silence is a group of former Israeli soldiers who have toured the US delivering ‘testimonies’ to the mistreatment of Palestinians by the IDF. When their more serious allegations have been investigated, they are almost always found to be based on hearsay. And even when stories of harassment are true, they are presented entirely without context, without explanations, for example, that incidents have taken place at checkpoints where Palestinian terrorists regularly try to smuggle bombs into Israel.

    B’Tselem has been deeply involved in supporting the demonstrations against the security barrier in the villages off Bi’ilin and Ni’ilin, in which Palestinians, left-wing Israeli extremists and international supporters attempt to destroy the barrier and to provoke police and soldiers protecting it.

    NGO monitor, anything but ‘extremist’, summarized the way the NIF uses its huge resources:

    NIF-funded NGOs regularly engage in public relations blitzes, often facilitated by professional media consultants. They hold press conferences, issue glossy publications in multiple languages, and contribute regular op-eds and articles to high-profile media outlets such as Ma’ariv, Haaretz, The New York Times, and Huffington Post. They regularly submit reports at the UN and send representatives to conferences in Europe and America. B’Tselem has a growing lobbying office in Washington and a representative in the UK.

    NGO Monitor researchers have analyzed NIF funding practices for years. While the organization does some positive work in Israel that should be applauded, it refuses to engage in debate regarding several of its grantees that demonize Israel at the UN, support boycott and divestment campaigns, promote “lawfare” cases against Israeli officials, and even advocate erasing the Jewish character of the state. Significantly, many NIF donors are unaware of these activities. NIF has rebuffed all of NGO Monitor’s attempts to discuss appropriate “red lines” for the groups they fund.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      William presents himself as a seeker after truth against those wicked, left-wing and (given his tone) anti-Israel NGOs supported by NIF – as well as against the NIF itself.

      So, let’s deconstruct some of his presentation, just for fun of course. Other critics relied on tenuous chains of guilt by association. Let’s start with this: “Im Tirtzu received grants from something called the “Central Fund of Israel”. Now, follow this: the Central Fund also supports an organization called Honenu, which has provided funds for the legal defense of settlers who were (rather brutally) removed from outposts by police, for soldiers accused of harming Palestinians, and for some right-wing extremists (who nevertheless are entitled to legal representation). How this proves that Im Tirtzu is itself an extremist group, and how it has any bearing on its findings about the NIF escapes me.”

      Well, it may escape William, but this list is plainly, in conventional political terms, a right-wing one. So, the Central Fund for Israel carries out the function for the right that NIF does for the left. All William has shown is that partiality in who you fund exists on both sides of the political divide. If he dislikes NIF for _its_ activities, but approves of the Central fund for Israel (and its grantee Im Tirtzu), then he displays _his_ right-wing bias or leanings, but does nothing to support his case (except for those who already agree with him, of course).

      It would appear that the same “tenuous chains of guilt by association” operate on both sides of the political divide.

      Then theres this: “many of the attacks take the form of saying that Im Tirtzu wishes to ‘muzzle’ free speech and democratic criticism of Israeli policy. This is so absurd that it beggars description.” So, it follows that none of the following represent a threat to free speech in Israel:
      “> Naomi Chazan, the fund’s president, was dis-invited from a speaking tour of Australia.
      > After Chazan threatened to sue the Jerusalem Post, the Post dropped her as a regular columnist.
      > There are calls in the Knesset to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the NIF and foreign funding of Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs).”

      Thus, it is a figment of the left’s imagination that these represent an attack on free speech. Not at all. I do notice, however, that the (agreed-upon) right-wing Israeli government is not issuing a similar call to investigate “Christians United for Israel (CUFI)…CUFI is unpopular as a result of the socially conservative views of its founder, Pastor John Hagee, but its largess has been distributed mostly to noncontroversial pro-Israel causes”, which, of course, is exactly what NIF does: distribute its funds to mostly non-controversial pro-Israel causes. Except, of course, that they can’t be non-controversial because they are likely to be, somehow, on the left. Of course not, that would be even-handed and balanced, and we can’t have that.

      Let’s go on: “Other critics claimed that Im Tirtzu’s cartoon showing Naomi Chazan wearing an unflattering rhinoceros horn were outrageous and antisemitic. This too is entirely irrelevant to their charges.” Actually, earlier reports noted that it was a devil’s horn, but that’s probably too subtle a distinction for William et al. Further, of course, it is _not_ irrelevant, entirely or otherwise. The whole purpose is to quite literally demonise the opposition to the right-wing mood taking root in Israel. William’s reporting of it in this way demonstrates his approval and support of this mood and its implications.

      Note that William goes on to add to this demonisation of left-wing groups when he says, having just listed 16 groups supported by, inter alia, NIF (and including, eg B’Tselem) “It’s important to realize that these groups have done far more than contribute to the Goldstone report. Some of them are Israeli Arab (oops, ‘Palestinians living in Israel’) groups supposedly working for civil rights for Arab citizens but actually pushing an agenda to change Israel from a Jewish state to a bi-national “state of its citizens” with a new flag and national anthem, and in which the Arab minority would have veto power of government decisions.”

      Note the language used (oops, ‘Palestinians living in Israel’), note the complete lack of evidence for his quite serious charges, and, previously, his preparedness to support right-wing soldiers movements but not left-wing soldiers movements.

      Finally, there’s this: “B’Tselem has been deeply involved in supporting the demonstrations against the security barrier in the villages off Bi’ilin and Ni’ilin, in which Palestinians, left-wing Israeli _extremists_ (emphasis added) and international supporters attempt to destroy the barrier and to provoke police and soldiers protecting it.” Not a word on the court judgement that Israel can build a barrier on its border, should it so wish, but _not_ on land not acknowledged as its own – which is exactly what B’Tselem and its allies are doing. This leaves us with the conclusion that William approves the wall, wherever it’s built, the division of Arab villages and the separation of the village from its fields, etc, etc.

      Oh, and why is Neal Friedman supporting right-wing efforts to stifle free-speech when he has just been praising Marxist Moishe Postone to the skies? I’d be fascinated to read his reasoning.

      And, by the way, I am not a fan of the Goldstone Report and support many of the criticisms that have been made of it. That is not, therefore, an excuse to attack free speech movements in Israel (or anywhere else) and certainly not a fig-leaf to defend right-wing groups who wish to undermine free speech there.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Darn it (to quote Bill), I’ve been rude to William, when I should be being rude to Steven for his linking to the fresnozionism website.

        Sorry William. No apologies to Steven. Please read “Steven” where I mistakenly put “William”.

        But why am I not surprised at the origin of the website in question?

    • luny Says:

      MY G-D! These groups write editorials in papers! They collect evidence and give it to jurists! Sometimes they even organize a demo or two! If we dont shut them down NOW the ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WILL NOT SURVIVE!

  5. N. Friedman Says:

    “But this campaign to discredit NIF and its grantee organisations amounts to nothing less than an attack on freedom of speech.”

    Nonsense. NIF seems to want to brand its opponents evil rather than address the facts those opponents have raised.

  6. william Says:

    I am surprised that you would endorse the McCarthyist attacks on the Im Tirtzu students by the bullying NIF!

  7. Fabian from Israel Says:

    So why is Naomi Chazan of NIF sueing a newspaper if she only cares about freedom of speech?

  8. Absolute Observer Says:

    So, basically, those bloggers – in this case, one who labels him or herself “A pro-Israel voice from California’s Central Valley”!!. – who support the attacks on NIF by some sordid rightist groups are pissed off with them because they spoke to Goldstone, oppose government policies, highlight HR abuses and speaking against what is seen by the right as “common sense”.

    Ah, bless.

  9. Absolute Observer Says:

    So, basically, some blogger in California, is somewhat irate that NIF and other groups monitor HR abuses in and by Israel, speaks to Goldstone (although not agreeing with all the conclusions), and, generally oppose government policy, such as the Wall and checkpoints (and who lump together “left wing “extremists, Palestinians and Islamic fundamentalists” as if there was no difference between them) and, supports some sordid right-wing groups in attacking and deligitimizing them.

    Anyway, back in the real world,

    Was this woman arrested at the Western Wall?
    Have the Israeli government proposed changing the road signs?
    Has the Chair of NIF been sacked or not by the JP?

  10. Fabian from Israel Says:

    Why was my comment deleted?

  11. Absolute Observer Says:

    So, basically some blogger in California is pissed off that some Israelis oppose the government, raise the question of HR abuses and have spoken to Goldstone (even if questioning its findings); i.e. the signs of a healthy democracy in which a diverse number of views can be expressed freely and safely.

    (And, of course, the idea of a universal freedom of speech, is never without limits in practice, even in the States – the question is where to draw the line) The California blogger, with his “so-called” and his lumping together of “left wing extremists, Palestinians [all, some, many?]and Islamic fundamentalist”is the last person who I would like to see draw the line. Thankfully, he is thousands of miles away and behind a computer!!

    The right have never liked liberal inconveniences. Seems the Israel right is no different.

    Was this woman arrested at the Wall?
    Is Israel thinking of changing the language of their road signs?
    Has the NIF chair been sacked by the JP?
    Are there not abuses of HR in Israel, in the OT and during the Gaza offensive?

    The right in Israel is suffering as it often does elsewhere, with a surfeit of the arrogance of power. It is never pleasant to see.

    Merely because some inside and outside Israel may try to make mischief with this and will obsessively focus on Israel and only Israel is no excuse to attack these HR groups. After all, Jews should, as a matter of principle never let their behaviour be guided by antisemites.

  12. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I am surprised that you would endorse the McCarthyist attacks on the Im Tirtzu students by the bullying NIF!”

    Why?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      AO, I suspect that William is employing irony here. Thus, the real meaning is actually the reverse: he is attacking Im Tirtzu’s attack on NFI.

  13. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Regrettably, Israel’s difficult circumstances on the international arena stem mainly from activities of Israeli organizations and persons who have spearheaded anti-Israeli propaganda.”

    Let’s hunt out the dissenters
    And NIF is McCarthyist. Sounds something the UCU would say if you ask me? Whilst the UCU hunt out the Zionists in their midst, this bunch of tossers is hunting out the “anti- and post- Zionists”!!

    “Regrettably, in recent years, anti-Zionist trends have been proliferating in Israeli universities, which have gradually displaced, marginalized and excluded the Zionist discourse, preventing Zionists from making their voices heard.”

    Oh for goodness sake!! Are they for real.

    And anyway, “the” Zionist discourse, “the” – what there is only one? (or is just their dream).

    A horrible bunch of rightist nationalists who, like the President of Iran, want no more to revitalise national values.

    Oy gevalt!

  14. JG Campbell Says:

    The sensible centrist Yaacov Lozowick, mentioned by Bialik earlier, gives a more balanced view of all this than either the rightists or the leftists.

    In particular, he points out that:

    “…there’s the comic aspect of how thin their [NIF’s] skin is. Remember, the NGOs in question dish out criticism, harsh criticism and sometimes rancid animosity; they often intentionally supply Israel’s enemies with rhetorical ammunition against it at time of war. They’ve got a serious case to answer, and preening that requiring them to do so is antidemocratic, is silly.”
    (yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/02/nif-democracy-decency-and-other.html)

    Also:
    “The fact of NIF grantees supplying false and derogatory information to the Goldstone report is well documented. I’ve written about this a number of times over the past six months or so, and no-one listened. Along came Im Tirzu and were nasty about it, and suddenly the whole relevant world is agog. I recognize that this blog is not very significant, but it also tries to be calm and measured. More elbow power to Im Tirzu: they know how to get their point across to a broad public. Sources? Read chapter XXV of the Goldstone report, for example, which is based almost entirely on NIF-NGOs, and is basically a lie in its entirety. That’s for starters. Some of my thoughts on the matter are here and here. And of course, there was the trip to Hebron,which I wrote about here.”
    (yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/02/response-to-ben-murane-new-israel-fund.html)

    By the way, the links denoted by “here” (Lozowick on the Israeli govt’s July 09 report on the Gaza war), “here” (his response to Goldstone which he read in full), and “here” (his experience on a B’tselem trip to Hebron to investigate alleged Israeli HR abuses) are well worth following on the website itself, wherever you’re coming from.

    Jonathan

  15. Orly Says:

    Brian Goldfarb-

    “Actually, earlier reports noted that it was a devil’s horn, but that’s probably too subtle a distinction for William et al. Further, of course, it is _not_ irrelevant, entirely or otherwise. The whole purpose is to quite literally demonise the opposition to the right-wing mood taking root in Israel”

    It may be the case that the Im Tirzu ad comes across worse in English than it does in Hebrew. The ad plays on the two meanings of the Hebrew word KEREN – which means both “horn” and “fund”, and in it Ms. Hazan is made to look like an ox using its ATTACHED horn-fund to gore Israel. This may still be in bad taste but it’s not demonisation (the common demon tends to have two horns, which grow out of its forehead, rather then one horn that is tied on with a rubber band🙂

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Orly, it may well be a poor translation (and not necessarily an innocent mistranslation either), but in the rough and tumble of politics – especially when at least one of the parties is playing really rough – any “accidental” meaning that is worse for the one being attacked will hardly be corrected.

      But thanks for the reminder of the double meaning of “keren”: Hebrew is as bad as English for having the same word meaning different things, depending on the context.

  16. Absolute Observer Says:

    Right-wing groups who talk of rejuvenating national values, and who sport t.shorts that say in 2010 things like, “We have always said that in our war with the Arabs we had a secret weapon – no alternative” and “Never mind, it is good to die for our own country.” are detestable and no different from those nationalists who speak of rejuveniing “British” values or “Australian” values of “Islamic values”.
    Authoritarian nationalists. Horrible!

  17. NIMN Says:

    luny Says:
    December 10, 2009 at 5:21 pm
    *GASP*…. A university should be boycotted because it is complicit in human rights violations?!

    I guess for Luny, the fact that Im Tirtzu is only going after some Israeli academics is not radical enough for him or her.
    Better to take out the whole Israeli HE sector, no doubt.

  18. Bialik Says:

    NGOs are annoying: they won’t be pinned down. They do some good work, they expose some bad things and they repeat some false things. They’re not perfect but don’t have to be, they’re not accountable to anyone. For the same reason, they don’t have to justify their funding. It is better to have NGOs than not to have them, both for society and individuals, but their work can be carried out by others, with more accountability or expertise as relevant. The problem, as I see it, is one of fetishism. In some quarters, especially amongst anti-zionists but also people with a poor understanding of middle east politics, the word of an NGO is rated much more highly than, say government statements or military pronouncements. Does this mean Israeli NGOs have a greater responsibility to be accurate or to put their claims to the accused parties before going to the world’s media? I don’t think so. We don’t want to say that some NGOs can be more irresponsible than others.
    As a rule, I trust NGOs reporting from closed societies more than those reporting from open societies, where it is much harder to hide human rights abuses and someone can be held to account through free elections and an independent judiciary. Although in both cases they may be run by cliques with groupthink and many ways of keeping people out who don’t agree with their methods or analysis.
    If Goldstone took the same approach we’d have had a different report. But this isn’t just an Israeli problem, trust in governments is poor everywhere (the UK is on its third Iraq War inquiry because there remains a feeling that there is something we don’t know that we should). Self-appointed NGOs have a role to play in reducing trust in government – it’s a circular thing – but that’s where we’re at.
    If I was running an inquiry, I would begin with an examination of the methodology of every organisation that supplied information and rule out those with low research standards. Heresay would be ruled out except in exceptional circumstances. A paper trail and photographic evidence would be required. Each piece of evidence would receive an accuracy rating based on the provider’s record, methodology and the cost they would pay of getting it wrong. I wouldn’t count agendas, however, as every provider has one. Where an NGO report is accepted over an official report, I would explain why in the report’s notes.
    In other words, NGOs aren’t the problem, it is the standard of inquiries that need to be examined.

  19. Lynne T Says:

    Mira:
    Why should complaints about NIF be dismissed as an attack on an NGO’s freedom of speech?

    Norm Geras has linked to an interesting post by Rahila Gupta on the sacking of Gita Seghal by Amnesty’s secretariat for publicly complaining about AI UK’s support for Cageprisoners.

    “We welcome whistleblowers when they expose wrongdoing in government or the corporate sector. This is not, technically, a case of whistleblowing because none of these activities were hidden – it was a failure to join the dots on the part of Amnesty about which a senior member of staff went public on principle.

    Why should the third sector be immune from internal critics? It is a significant player in Britain: more people work in this sector than in banking, it influences the direction of government policy and public opinion, and consequently it should be held accountable like any other organisation. These debates need to be had in public rather than behind closed doors. Amnesty’s attempt to shut down the debate by using the same tactics as their opponents is shameful.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/09/amnesty-sahgal-rights-row

    And over at Zionation, Amie Isserof blogs about one of NIF’s grantee organizations, Ir-Amin and I-A’s provocative and sabotaging conduct in Sheikh Jarrah with respect to the eviction of three Arab families from apartments there for non-payment of rent. This is not about Goldstone, but the story is rather telling about some of the hostility NIF is attracting:

    “The Arab tenants, and not the settlers or the Israeli government, triggered the eviction process when they stopped paying rent, probably on the advice of a “rights” NGO that wanted to create a problem where there was none, and throw another monkey wrench in the wheels of peace and reconciliation.

    Far from being dispossessed of their rightful property, the Arabs evicted from Sheikh Jarrah were illegally transferred to illegally occupied territory in the 1948 by a belligerent state, Jordan, and by the UN, in violation of the Fourth Geneva convention, article 49. Everyone agrees that the land and the houses are Jewish property.

    Rather than trying to dispossess the “unfortunate” Arabs, the Israeli government concluded an agreement that would allow them to live in the apartments, acquired by the aggressor Jordanian government after ethnically cleansing the Jews who were the rightful tenants in 1948. Under the agreement, the Arabs would pay a nominal rent and would be “protected” key money tenants under the Ottoman law for protected tenants: they could not be evicted unless they stopped paying the rent. The Arabs, for reasons of their own, however, broke the agreement and stopped paying rent. Somehow, this is made out to be the fault of the Israeli government.

    While you may be picturing an exodus of thousands of unfortunate homeless Arabs, only three families were evicted thus far. In total, the evictions could affect 27 families.

    Rather than believing in coexistence in Jerusalem, Ir-Amim and other organizations who are defending the Arab tenants, believe in the innocent-sounding slogan of “shared Jerusalem,” which actually amounts to apartheid racism and division of Jerusalem. ”

    http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000729.html

  20. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    You write: “Oh, and why is Neal Friedman supporting right-wing efforts to stifle free-speech when he has just been praising Marxist Moishe Postone to the skies? I’d be fascinated to read his reasoning.”

    My reasoning is straightforward. I think that Im Tirtzu has the right to assert whatever they choose. NIF can ignore it or answer the charges.

    Instead of doing that, NIF’s advocate adopts a different approach. The advocate, to use American terminology, wraps the NIF in the flag and asserts that NIF’s right of free speech is being challenged. Such is normally the tactic used by lawyers to represent a scoundrel. And note, the article points to another article which supposedly does challenge Im Tirtzu but, in fact, has rather little factual challenge in it.

    This is not an endorsement of anything written by Im Tirtzu, a group about whom I know rather little. However, such tactics are harm Israel’s left making it appear unwilling or unable to defend its views.

    Consider, there have been rather thorough examinations of the Goldstone report. Professor Dershowitz has shown beyond all question in this paper that the Goldstone report employs two completely different legal standards to judge identical legal allegations. More particularly, he alleges that different evidentiary standards are employed. The standard against Israel permits the use of indirect evidence and evidence from results while against Hamas, indirect evidence and evidence based from results is not considered valid.

    That means – and this is my reason for bringing this up – that allegations coming from supposed human rights groups is taken as gospel by Goldstone. Hence, it is certainly fair game to ask about how the Goldstone report came to consider such evidence as legitimate evidence. Hence, in my mind, Im Tirtzu or anyone else inquiring into the matter is legitimate inquiry that requires an actual answer.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Okay, Neil, let’s consider this item from the original article at the head of this comments thread: “Im Tirtzu, claiming that over 90% of allegations against the IDF in the Goldstone report came from 16 NIF-funded Israeli NGOs. The following day Im Tirtzu organised a demonstration outside the Jerusalem home of NIF president, Prof Naomi Hazan (pictured), with dozens of activists dressed as Hamas terrorists, as well as running an advert in the Jerusalem Post depicting a demonic Prof Hazan wearing a horn.

      It didn’t take long for Im Tirtzu’s “research” to be debunked and dismembered. Anshel Pfeffer did a good job in Ha’aretz:

      “What is being said here? Im Tirzu is not claiming that any of the information supplied by these organizations was false. It is simply questioning the very legitimacy of free speech in Israel.”

      Rather a lot of it, I’m afreaid, but let’s do some deconstructing. ” Im Tirtzu, claiming that over 90% of allegations against the IDF in the Goldstone report came from 16 NIF-funded Israeli NGOs.” Was there any evidence that this was, in fact, the case? If so, did the “16 NIF-funded Israeli NGOs” break any Israeli law in doing so? If not, what is or was Im Tirtzu’s motive in making these claims? Presumably, to discredit NIF, and in so doing, to undermine its credibility and that of its grantees to carry out their self-appointed tasks.

      Then there’s this little gem: “The following day Im Tirtzu organised a demonstration outside the Jerusalem home of NIF president, Prof Naomi Hazan…, with dozens of activists dressed as Hamas terrorists, as well as running an advert in the Jerusalem Post depicting a demonic Prof Hazan wearing a horn.” Now I know that Israeli politics can make the UK (or most US) variety look like the proverbial vicarage tea-party, but this is pretty strong stuff. Quite literally, an attempt to demonise the opposition. And as for using the Hamas image, this is further demonisation. If we accept that neither the NIF nor its grantees are actually seeking the dismantling of Israel, then what is Im Tirtzu’s further agenda here? Because the implication of the latter’s actions is that they are accusing NIF, etc, of quisling-type/collaborationist with the enemy behaviour: hardly, even in Israel, a fair tactic.

      Finally, there’s this, in rebuttal of Im Tirtzu: “Anshel Pfeffer did a good job in Ha’aretz:
      “What is being said here? Im Tirzu is not claiming that any of the information supplied by these organizations was false. It is simply questioning the very legitimacy of free speech in Israel.” ”

      Now, of course, you may wish to question the credibility of Ha’Aretz as well as that of NIF and its grantees, but this is a different kettle of fish. If you dismiss this item, then you are siding with the rightists of Im Tirtzu and _their_ funders. And Steven, above, the linker to right-wing zionists in Fresno, California, who also sought to defend Im Tirtzu, makes sure we know that there are funders on the right doing for the right in Israel what NIF is doing for the left there. This should make us examine their actions very carefully before we accept their views. This is _not_ to assert that commentators from the right can never make valid and truthful comments or criticisms, but to question, from the left, why we should accept comments and criticisms from the right, _when it is funded to make those comments by right-wing Trusts, etc_, while rejecting comments, etc, from our natural allies.

      And I _am_ surprised that a Marxist (even a Marxian) like you would do so, Neil.

      • N. Friedman Says:

        Brian,

        I do not understand your comment. I read the original comment and the Ha’aretz article, etc., etc.. They do not contain much in the way of facts by which to conclude anything important.

        One last point. I really do not care whether Im Tirtzu is right or left wing. I do not think they are attacking anyone’s free speech. And, pointing out that Goldstone’s loathsome report has “facts” similar to those of some other groups is not a left or a right wing thing. It is an interesting thing to know, given that the Goldstone report is a hatchet job – which is the kindest spin I can give such a dishonest report. And, to make it so is to put ideology over common sense. And, that Im Tirtzu chooses to demonstrate against NIF is their privilege – a basic right, so far as I know.

        In any event, I think that such ideological thinking by those who think that Im Tirtzu is attempting to silence its opponents is a stupid way to think about the world. I suppose that comes from growing up in the US where protest is seen as a way of participating in democracy, not of silencing people.

  21. Sharks with frickin lasers Says:

    This isn’t materially different from the meltdown Glenn Greenwald exhibited today on Salon.com related to Wieseltier’s tear down of Andrew Sullivan. According to Greenwald any criticism of antizionism or antisemitism is worse than the worse war crime bigotry ever and is really just a smear job by the……wait for it……the Jews who rule America.

    The NIE is angry that anyone point out their ‘problems’ and instead of addressing the specific issues, they call it a witch hunt inspired by ‘you know who…’. I don’t really know who ‘who’ is supposed to be, but I imagine it’s anyone to right of Emma Goldman.

  22. zkharya Says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1149056.html

    The New Israel Fund for Deepening the Jewish-Arab Rift

  23. Absolute Observer Says:

    Hmmm, was that the Dershowitz who called Goldstone a “traitor”.

    And, now, because the Judge screwed up, his errors are blamed on to the witnesses.

    My, that is a rational and critical way of proceeding.

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      AO,

      Goldstone and his unsavoury colleagues didn’t “screw up”, they put the boot in. And the people who provided the steel toe-cap for that boot were a group of Israeli NGO’s largely funded by NIF — according to the assertions of Im Tirtzu. Im Tirtzu also asserts that NIF receives copious funding from nations not all that friendly to Israel, with agendas that cannot be assumed to be well intentioned.

      If rationality and criticality matter — and they should — then NIF (and you) should address those charges, rather than making spurious accusations about freedom of speech, or distorting what is actually happening. No-one is saying that Goldstone doesn’t bear responsibility for his own work, they are saying he had help from people who should have known better. Further, they are saying that NGO’s must be publicly accountable, and willing to engage in self-examination. NIF’s response to criticism is indistinguishable of what we have recently seen from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty. In each case, the instinctive reaction is to counter-attack, bluster and deny that there could possibly be a problem. Normal human responses, but not good enough for the self-appointed guardians of public morality.

  24. Sarah B Says:

    Apologies for an off topic question – I’ve just received voting papers from the UCU and wondered whether (as they have in the past) Engage had any thoughts about the candidates?

  25. N. Friedman Says:

    Absolute Observer,

    My comment about Dershowitz related to his showing – and read his analysis and you will see that it is irrefutable on the legal issue he raised – that the “evidence” of alleged Israeli wrongdoing is being judged by a different legal standard than is used to judge identical allegations against Hamas. And, since that interpretation of evidence is used by Israel’s enemies, it does bear consideration where Goldstone obtained his evidence.

  26. Absolute Observer Says:

    “And the people who provided the steel toe-cap for that boot were a group of Israeli NGO’s largely funded by NIF — according to the assertions of Im Tirtzu”

    So, what’s wrong with providing evidence. They have every right to do that. The nationalists have always argued that co-nationals should be quiet since others will make use of it against the interests of their nation.
    In this way, truth plays second fiddle to national interests.

    NIF gave Goldstone some evidence of how they saw things.
    Some of you guys here don’t like that, so you are prepared to support some nasty little right wing student group who who demand the rejuvantaiton of “national” and “Jewish” values in universtities, because you are letting the antisemites and anti-zionist set your agenda.

    I find it interesting just how much you guys have in common with the boycotters.
    For the boycotters there is no critical ground. ALl ZIonists are the same. The result, those who are working hard in Israel to show the shortcomings of an increasingly nasty rightist goverment have been shunned.

    You guys also want to attack and shun those critics of the Israeli government within Israel because, inter alia, they are providing “steel toe-caps” for Israel’s enemies.

    Look at this rubbish,
    “And, since that interpretation of evidence is used by Israel’s enemies, it does bear consideration where Goldstone obtained his evidence.”

    Almost every day of their lives, Judges decide on the evidence. However, this is not good enough apparaently. For N. Friedman, judgement is to made at an earlier stage; that the evidence that is to be judged upon is to be judged prior to its judging.

    Perhaps, we should grant licences to those permitted to present evidence. That way, we can make sure only the IDF are permitted to give evidence (only after, of course, it has been judged appropriate).

    Antizionists refuse to recognise the democratic elements in Israeli society; those arguing who are arguing against NIF seem also to dislike a democratic Israel. Horrible.

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      AO,

      You’d be more interesting to talk to, and more rewarding, if you weren’t quite so much of an ideologue — if a group or a government could be to the right of centre without being “nasty” too. Living here in the US, I’ve just come through eight years of “debate” characterised by shrill, stupid Bush/Hitler invective, and now we’re heading into four or eight more of equally stupid people insisting that Obama is either Bin Laden or the antichrist. I don’t think life is improved by that kind of politics.

      Im Tirtzu may be wrong, but they’re not leading Israel to a fascist nightmare. Neither is the Likud government. NIF may be OK, mostly, but they’re not angels and they are fair game for scrutiny and criticism. The main complaint against NIF and its ducklings, as I understand it, is that it’s one thing — fair, appropriate and acceptable — to join in the domestic Israeli debate like everyone else, and it’s another to orient yourself outward, to encourage Israel’s enemies in a game that’s heavily rigged. When NIF, or Adalah or whoever else fight their corner in the internal rough and tumble, they’re part of the democracy. If they decide that they can make more headway by doing an end run around domestic politics and throwing their weight behind the malodorous Human Rights Council and it’s emissaries, they deserve to be exposed, challenged and stopped.

      • David D. Says:

        Thanks Jonathan. This is precisely my take, as well, and you’ve said it better than I would have. The trouble with some groups funded by the NIF is their strategic alliance with organizations and groups who do not have Israel’s welfare at heart… quite the contrary. Adding “human rights” to your name does not innoculate against criticism.

  27. Yaniv Says:

    Here is a link to a report

    http://www.adalah.org/newsletter/eng/jun09/goldstone%20report_and_appendix%5B1%5D.pdf

    It is incendiary particularly because of the accusation that Israel killed civilians in Gaza as part of its operational strategy. The dead civilians in Gaza are therefore not an unavoidable collateral damage but a result of a horrible war crime. The Goldstone commission, as it seems, has adopted the report in its entirety.

    Now a question: is indicating to donors and to the Israeli government, that runs many mutual projects together with the NIF, that the NIF is supporting such an activity amounts to McCarthysm? After all, Israeli soldiers and politicians face now a very nasty which hunting, especially in the UK. Why is it therefore so unacceptable to mention the contribution of NGOs supported by the NIF to this campaign? Perhaps the NIF will reconsider its venue of support as aresult of the criticism.

    Finally, I too have a deja vu: when “anti-zionists” have been accused of antisemitism they have vociferously claimed that their freedom of speech has been curtailed. Am I the only one who sees the parallels between the two cases?

  28. Yaniv Says:

    I meant, of course, witch hunting.

  29. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Yaniv, on p. 6 of the report you link to (submitted not just by Adalah, but on behalf a number of left NGOs, such as Gisha), we find the following (any transcription errors are mine, as this report would not “copy and paste” for me):
    “Strikes were directed toward mosques, schools and residential buildings on the grounds that they were being used for munitions storage or that shooting originated from or near them. Striking at targets in the heart of or near densely populated areas jeopardizes the lives of civilians. These protected sites cannot be attacked on the basis of a general suspicion, but only on well founded information, and even then, the risk to civilian lives must be taken into account during both the planning and execution of the action.”

    All well and good, and I defend Adalah’s right to present this evidence (or claim, as certain of the posters here will allege). But, and it’s a big but, there are other considerations here, well beyond any demand on that the IDF be purer than pure. Some months ago, on the comments thread attached to an article entitled (in part) “Collectivizing Atonement”, I posted the following response (reproduced in part), as noted in the first few lines, on “military proportionality”:

    “It seems to me that a fair degree of nonsense is being written about military “proportionality” and the like. Thus, Michael W. above writes (in clarification of his position at the start of this thread): “In a military operation, the use of force must be proportional to the gained military advantage over the expected transgressions against the civilian population (such as casualties, property damage, and basic rights).” Sorry, but this is arrant nonsense. To demand this of military planners and those who carry out their plans is to invite piecemeal defeat on the tactical level, to say nothing of the strategic level.
    I have recently read Richard Evans “The Third Reich at War” and Andrew Roberts “Masters and Commanders” on Roosevelt, Churchill and their respective Chiefs of (Military) Staff. While none of the four of them intended _deliberate_ harm to the civilians “in the way”, they always used the maximum force available to them to ensure (they hoped) victory over their enemy. Civilian casualties, at least in the occupied countries, were (in that awful modern euphemism) “collateral damage”…To castigate the Israelis in Gaza is to ignore the obvious basic maxim of war: win. Of course they didn’t wish or attempt to cause civilian casualties…and, anyway, many sources suggest these Gazan civilian casualties have been exaggerated by Hamas and those who are their – witting or unwitting – allies). What should always be kept in view is why Operation Cast Lead happened.”

    There’s more, but this will do to make my point.

    By reporting like this, Israeli left organisations are making the Israeli right’s task easier. Of course the right will attack Adalah, NIF etc, because they appear to be saying the IDF was wrong, when even at the time others were saying that there _had_ been munition storage and firing from these places, including a UN building, as the UN later (much later) admitted. And the Adalah Report would have been much strengthened by attaching their comments to arguments about the misdeeds of Hamas. Further there are plenty of observers who are prepared to argue that, despite the views of NIF grantees, Adalah, etc, the IDF took greater precautions against “Collateral civilian deaths” than many other armies. One only has to seek out the number of French non-combatant deaths during the battle for France in 1944 to realise this.

    My point is that intellectual honesty goes much further than partial reports, and had the NIF grantees and others been making their submissions to Goldstone in the manner I have suggested, the right would have had a far harder job in mounting their attack on the left and gaining the (odd, in my view) support of the likes of N. Friedman, as well as “the usual suspects.”

    • Yaniv Says:

      Brian,

      What I meant was the part of the report on page 5 where they describe what they perceive as the IDF’s “operational strategy”. It’s only one page but still – it’s a piece of vile propaganda.

  30. Absolute Observer Says:

    “If they decide that they can make more headway by doing an end run around domestic politics and throwing their weight behind the malodorous Human Rights Council and it’s emissaries, they deserve to be exposed, challenged and stopped.”

    NIF have every right to go and talk to wherever they want.

    Over the past months, the right in Israel have been emoldened
    to such an extent that. as many have noted, civil rights are being stamped on – in terms of policing of demonstrations, religious attitudes and for redrawing the boundary between what is acceptable to say and what is not acceptable.

    In the light of these facts, it seems incredible to me that, whatever one thinks of the NIF, one is supporting an increasingly authoritarian government in their attempts to become, well, increasingly authoritarian.

    (And, on a historical note – evidence was produced to “show” that a massacre occurred at Jenin. The UN found it did not.)

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      “NIF have every right to go and talk to wherever they want.”

      Well, that would be the subject of the whole NIF debate, wouldn’t it? — Israeli society asking itself what the bounds of legitimate, democratic, political activity are.

      You know beyond doubt where you stand — you are indeed an absolute observer: NIF and its associated NGO’s may play their politics any way they like, inside the Israeli system or allied with Israel’s most intemperate critics, whichever means best serve their ends. Explain to me again why that is all fair, but for anyone else to draw attention to those tactics or say they disagree is beyond the democratic pale?

  31. Absolute Observer Says:

    “The trouble with some groups funded by the NIF is their strategic alliance with organizations and groups who do not have Israel’s welfare at heart… quite the contrary. ”

    Get real, will you

    So, now the NIF do not have Israel’s “welfare” at heart.

    No doubt the Judge in this case, “Jerusalem Judge Orders ACRI Head and Other Activists Released Without Charges” is nothing but a left-wing extremist who is pals with those who wish Israel to disappear.

    And, on the topic in question.
    http://www.nif.org/media-center/under-attack/lies-damn-lies-and-the-im.html

    As the NIF note, the popular outcry against the Goldtsone report is being used by groups like IT to create an atmosphere in which any group in Israel that does not tow the party line (and there are far more than many realise) is deemed “traitors”, playing to the enemy, “not having Israel’s welfare at heart”.

    A kind of, if you’re not with us, you’re against us type of argument; an argument used by Bush, Putin and many other progressives in the political scene.

    Such a sentiment stinks in the US, it stinks in Russia and it stinks in Israel.

  32. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil Friedman, I attached a reply to a comment you posted here on 10 Feb, mine dated 12 Feb. You may have missed it because it was attached by me clicking on the reply button, instead of just adding it on at the end at the end of the list.

    I’m still interested in any reply to my comment that you might have.

  33. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Steven may have wanted to take back his complaint that his comment was not posted or deleted, but I notice he doesn’t respond to direct critiques of his posting. I know that he “merely” posted the contents of a column elsewhere, but as he did it without further comment, he presumably agrees with it. So why ignore detailed critiques? Do you think we won’t notice, Steven? Who gets the last word here on your posting of right-wing Californian pro-Zionist fruit cakes?

  34. David D. Says:

    AO,

    It would help if you could read a bit more carefully. My criticism is of those groups which are funded by NIF (i.e. Adalah, PHR-I, CWP) who sometimes make “a strategic allegiance with organizations and groups who who do not have Israel’s welfare at heart”. I.e with UNHRC, with HRW and their ilk. Or are you maintaining that the UNHRC does genuinely have “the welfare of Israel” at heart?!

  35. Harry Goldstein Says:

    Absolute Observer:

    ‘So, now the NIF do not have Israel’s “welfare” at heart’ is a distortion of the original statement which referred to “their [NIF’s] strategic alliance with organizations and groups who do not have Israel’s welfare at heart…” I’m sure everyone reading this will understand the difference. NIF’s motives are not in question here.

    Personally I don’t have enough information to judge NIF’s policy. I have donated to NIF in the past (and no doubt will in the future) in the belief that it supports programmes which promote social justice and peaceful co-existence. There is clearly a debate to be had regarding whether all of the organisations they support are appropriate to that end. The one thing I do know is that NIF, or NGOs in general, shouldn’t be beyond criticism.

    IT (or other allegedly ‘nasty’, ‘right-wing’ organisations) have as much right to ‘speak out’ as nice left-wing ones. If they went further, and sought to suppress NIF, that would indeed be a threat to democracy. Criticism isn’t.

    To borrow the language of our enemies, we shouldn’t use accusations of McCarthyism in order to shut down free criticism.

    As long as both sides in the debate respect the democratic rights of the other, I don’t even see this as a issue that Engage needs to have a position on. Not because we support Israel right or wrong, but because Israelis are entitled to debate these issues freely.

  36. Zionism & Israel Says:

    I am surprised that Engage, which has fought the divestment campaign, saw fit to take up the cudgels for NIF. NIF supported groups (either through funding or using NIF as a channel for donor-advised contributions or both) support divestment.

    Never mind if Im Tirtzu are settlers with horns and tails. Never mind if I am an evil settlerite necon Zionist. You can find the truth out for yourself. You can see it right here:
    http://whoprofits.org/Donations.php

    You can donate to that divestment initiative through New Israel Fund.

    That’s the business NIF is in.

    There is no issue of free speech here against these groups and no issue of democracy. They can say and do whatever they like. But NIF donors have the right to know they are supporting divestment and the Israeli government has the right to decide whether or not to cooperate with an organizations that supports divestment.

    The only “free speech” and “democracy” issue is the attempt by NIF and its supporters to shut up legitimate criticism by demonizing anyone who dares to tell the truth about NIF.

    Ami Isseroff

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Now that link above to “who profits” (a women’s coalition for peace, in their own words) is very interesting, not for what it does (follow the internal link to “the project” to find out what it does), but because of the argument by Ami Isseroff.

      “Who Profits” tracks the Israeli occupation industry and notes who does what; its aims and objectives are proclaimed as an end to the occupation, a just settlement, an end to West Bank settlements and the like: all items with which most Engageniks are in agreement. There’s nothing in the website, as far as I can tell, calling on anyone to disinvest in _any_ company, nor to boycott anybody or anything.

      This raises the question as to what Isseroff/Zionism & Israel is on about. Given what I’ve just written, it would appear to be an attempted smear. If so, the teacher’s comment on the school report is “must try harder”. There’s nothing here to justify the comments made by Isseroff/Z&I.

      Now, it so happens that one can donate directly – directions are given – or via NIF. Oddly enough, that doesn’t make Who Profits any of the things that Isseroff, also calling themself Zionism & Israel (or is Isseroff merely providing a link to Zionism & Israel? Not clear). What it does, as written, is _exactly_ self-label Isseroff (&/or Zionism and Israel) as “an evil settlerite necon Zionist.” However, I’d personally just stick to the last two words; I’ll leave the name-calling to others.

      • Yaniv Says:

        You are a bit naive Brian. What purpose does this database serve in your opinion? Here is what they write here:

        http://whoprofits.org/About.php

        “We hope to serve as an information center for queries about corporate involvement in the occupation from individuals and groups working for corporate accountability, social justice and labor rights.”

        How would you interpret the words “corporate accountability”?

  37. Absolute Observer Says:

    “NIF’s motives are not in question here.”
    Not sure that is the case with some comments made here and in Israel

    “IT (or other allegedly ‘nasty’, ‘right-wing’ organisations) have as much right to ’speak out’ as nice left-wing ones. If they went further, and sought to suppress NIF, that would indeed be a threat to democracy. Criticism isn’t.”

    “Agree entirely”. However, once one speaks of groups not having “Israel’s welfare at heart”, then one is not so sure of that line being kept)

    “As long as both sides in the debate respect the democratic rights of the other, I don’t even see this as a issue that Engage needs to have a position on. Not because we support Israel right or wrong, but because Israelis are entitled to debate these issues freely.”

    Agree entirely

    “I.e with UNHRC, with HRW and their ilk. Or are you maintaining that the UNHRC does genuinely have “the welfare of Israel” at heart?”.

    Comments such as the above indicate to me just how the general atmosphere of ant-zionism is giving rise to a “seige mentality” in Israel and, as many have forewarned, empowered the right-wing to clamp down, directly and indirectly, on the politics of those within Israel who approach the situation Israel is in a different manner from the current government.

  38. Absolute Observer Says:

    It seems to me that what is at issue here is who is trusted to report HR abuses in Israel and the OT.

    Let us assume that we agree that there are HR abuses in Israel, as there are in every country. Israeli HR groups, like HR groups everywhere legitimately, seek publicity of those abuses. That is not only what HR activists do, it is what they should do.

    Now, a government like the current Likud coalition, like all right-wing governments, are unhappy about this. Like all right-wing governments they seek to limit, and where possible, silence their critics (this need not be through overt violence, of course). NIF and others have reported a change in the state’ attitude toward them with greater police presences, arrest, temporary detention, etc. etc. (see the links above). (This does not even begin to consider the HR abuses in the OT territories that, again we can agree, cannot but take place – it is in the nature of an occupation).

    We agree, I take it, that HR abuses are a bad thing and should not be happening – this, again, I assume, is a baseline of the present discussion.

    The added issue with Israel is its demonisation that is taking place in some sections of the political world, some (by no means all) NGO’s included. From this perspecitve, one gets the feeling that it is Israel and only Israel that is guilty of HR abuses. Again, something which I assume we agree is a bad thing.

    The question is, therefore, what is to be done about this.

    Do we ask/demand of the Israeli HR groups to remain silent in the face of this international hostility (and let us remember that the vast majority of states support Israel’s right to exist unconditionally – there are exceptions), or should we expect them and support them in publicising these abuses?

    If we ask them to put their complaints on hold, then are we not defending the undefendable. Yes, we say, we oppose all HR violations, but in the case of Israel, it is different. You see, there are those who will take these reports and use them to demonise this state and only this state (we see this happening all the time).
    (note the symmetry with boycotters and demonisers that Israel is “different”; note also that just like the boycotters and demonisers, such a position would leave the Israeli HR organisations isolated internationally and domestically)

    Or, do we say, yes, publicise the HR abuses; ensure that they are known (after all, dissemination of knowledge is one of the few weapons that HR groups have). And, at the same time, oppose those who would then use that knowledge to make Israel a unique case and call for its exclusion, not least in the Universities of the UK.

    It seems to me that this latter course of action, difficult and demoralising as it often can be, is the only course of action open to “us”, at least those of “us” who take a principled stand against all HR violations in the world wherever and whoever is involved.

    On the one hand, “we” remain true to our commitment to our opposition to HR abuses, both in Israel and elsewhere whilst, at the same time, resist those who would meet such abuses, with abuses of their own (such as the exclusion and boycott of Israel (including Israeli HR organisations) from the political, social and cultural world) misconceived and misrepresented as a “progressive” politics.

  39. Yaniv Says:

    Brian,

    What I meant was the part of the report on page 5 where they describe what they perceive as the IDF’s “operational strategy”. It’s only one page but still – it’s a piece of vile propaganda.

    You can also read this criticism by NGO-monitor of the sam report.

    http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/nif_funded_ngos_goldstone_s_building_blocks

    To save you the trouble, here is the relevant paragraph:

    “A group of Israeli NGOs –ACRI, Adalah, Bimkom, Gisha, HaMoked, PHR-I, PCATI, and Yesh Din – submitted a one-sided written statement to the Goldstone Commission (June 30, 2009) that does not address alleged Hamas war crimes, “but rather offers our own distinct perspective – human rights violations for which Israel must be held accountable.”[1] This NGO document makes entirely speculative assertions about the motivation for the IDF operation against Hamas, claiming that “[t]o the extent that this was planned as a punitive operation which main purpose was not the achievement of actual military objectives, but the inflicting of deliberate damage as a deterrent and punitive measure” – despite their lacking requisite information to make such an assertion.[2]

    The submission accuses the IDF of having “deliberately and knowingly shelled civilian institutions,” supporting the coalition’s incorrect legal claim that “Israel deviated from the principle that allows harm only to military objectives, and carried out strikes against civilian sites in an effort to achieve political ends.”[3] References and evidence are missing for many accusations, such as the allegation that “[m]any prisoners … were held in pits in the ground … apparently dug by the army”[4]; details are sourced to “information in our possession.”[5] “

  40. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Actually, Yaniv, I don’t think we’re that far apart. My first comment on your comment and link to the Adalah report noted that: “there are other considerations here, well beyond any demand on that the IDF be purer than pure.” Thus, I am agreeing with you that this report is partial, to say the least, and also, whether deliberately or not, misunderstands military doctrine and practice. I tried to indicate this with the quotation from an earlier comment of mine on the notion of “military proportionality”, which you will recall was big at the time of Operation Cast Lead.

    Further, the quotes Adalah repeats on p. 5 are out of context. It is apparent that they are references to Hezbollah and the Northern border. Nevertheless, the second quote merely reinforces the point I make in my quote from an earlier comment of mine.

    The questions we are collectively raising here could and should be reformulated as: are these quotes correct? Are they in context? Are they _full_? That is, the IDF did fire shells at or near schools, mosques and at least one UN building, BUT was in fact firing, rocket launches, etc coming from there? If yes, then Adalah should in all conscience be saying this.

    All this is to say that Adalah et al have the right to say these things (assuming that they are not barred by Israeli law from doing so), but if they include only part of the context or seek to use justifications (or strategic thinking) for action _here_ to imply wrong action _there_, then they should be prepared for the kitchen sink to be thrown at them.

    So far, nothing I’ve read here seems to me to justify the witch hunt against NIF that’s staring up in Israel. If it is successful, then the next casualties will be other truth-tellers. Hopefully, this also answers your comments directed to me in the later quote in your latest comment (17.2.10, 6.18 am GMT)

  41. David D. Says:

    AO,

    To repeat: “Or are you maintaining that the UNHRC does genuinely have ‘the welfare of Israel’ at heart?”.

    How you answer that question is the key. It has nothing to do with right-wing “empowerment” in Israel (full disclosure: I’m not in Israel, I’m an ex-Catholic and I vote liberal-left); it has to do with bald reality.

    My wife (an ex-Muslim) used to work for UNESCO and was absolutely appalled at the overt — politically-sanctioned — misogyny that existed in certain sections of that highly-reputed organization. I can imagine that the UNHRC, a despicable body that is considering how best to dilute the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and last year voted to congratulate the Sri Lankan government on its massacre of Tamils, does not truly have Israel’s “welfare” at heart. Israeli NGOs should not be facilitating its nefarious endeavours.

  42. Harry Goldstein Says:

    I think what I really have a problem with is the headline, ‘Stand up for NIF, stand up for Israeli democracy’ which implies that if one does not defend NIF then one is a threat to democracy. This is of course completely false, because it implies that criticism of NIF is illegitimate, and therefore in effect denies the right of free speech to right-wingers. Now that would be antidemocratic.

    It’s not actually a matter of whether you think Israel ever commits human rights abuses. Yes it does, and so does every state. Nor is it a matter of whether NIF, or the groups it funds, have a right to campaign against such abuses. Yes they do, and so they should.

    It is a matter of whether this means that NIF should be beyond criticism. No they shouldn’t. To repeat, it is entirely legitimate for right-wingers (or anyone else) to criticise NIF or the groups it funds. It is entirely legitimate for them to seek to persuade potential donors to cease donating to NIF. And it is entirely legitimate for said donors to choose to cease donating on the strength of this. And, of course, it is equally legitimate for NIF itself and its funded groups to defend themselves and to continue to seek donations.

    In short, as democrats we should defend the rights (as opposed to the views, or actions) of both NIF and its critics. Democracy isn’t only for people we regard as progressive. People on all sides of the political spectrum may be tempted to infringe on their opponents’ rights, and we need to oppose this wherever it occurs.

  43. N. Friedman Says:

    Brian,

    I have now answered your comment and it should be posted, I hope, soon. It is listed for moderation but bears the time stamp February 19, 2010 at 3:10 am.

  44. Lynne T Says:

    What Harry Goldstein articulated so well.

  45. Absolute Observer Says:

    http://www.thejc.com/node/28308,

    “But all this risks missing the point. Im Tirzu and its allies are not interested in the facts. They are bent on gagging not only the NIF but Israel’s custodians of human rights. They want them deemed traitors. They fail to understand that NIF and groups like it represent a vital organ in the Israeli body politic, without which the society would cease to function as a democracy. Israel could smear them and shut them down, aping the authoritarian states who gag their own human rights groups. But Israel would cease to be the country it was meant to be.”

    And from yesterday’s Guardian about the attacks on those who in Britain would stand up against the claims of national security trumping human and civil rights,

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/17/torture-spies-judges-secret-services

    “So let us name them and shame them, these dangerous, complacent, self-righteous, wishy-washy liberals who threaten our national security, our vital national interests, and the personal safety of our citizens. Here are the guilty men: Lord Judge, the lord chief justice of England and Wales; Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls; Sir Anthony May, the president of the Queen’s Bench Division; Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones. Don’t they realise there’s a war on? Don’t they understand that their glib judgments hinder the efforts of the security services to save us from an ever-present threat, imperil our vital intelligence-sharing with the United States, and give comfort to our enemies? Who on earth do these people think they are?”

  46. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    That’s naughty, AO, not letting the useful idiots on the right (those who aren’t on the left) know that Timothy Garton Ash is being ironic. How could you lead them astray like that?

    Ah, now I get it: they will believe that he means it, not read the whole article, and be shown up for what they are. Nice!

  47. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Neil Friedman, your reply to my comment to you dated 12.2.10 (yours is attached to it and dated 19.2.10), is not a response, it’s a non-statement. Specific questions and comments and questions were addressed to you back then, a week ago. You have chosen to ignore or otherwise not respond to them, either in more recent comments or in the comment dated today.

    Your privilege, but don’t expect anyone, least of all me, to say, okay, fine. You are evading specific points and questions. So be it. The rest of us will draw our own conclusions from that. Even if those conclusions are unfair and unreasonable to you.

  48. Absolute Observer Says:

    According to the NIF web pages, one of their grantees are “Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”.

    The group referred to is, “Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East”.

    Whilst the US group, Jewish Voice for Peace is mentioned in certain connections on the ny’s site, no mention is made of Adalah (Israel).

    The list of “endorsing organisations” listed are as follows, (none of which are Israeli)
    American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – New York Chapter, http://www.adcnewyork.org
    International Socialist Organization, http://www.internationalsocialist.org
    International Solidarity Movement – NYC
    Jews Against the Occupation – NYC, http://www.jatonyc.org
    National Council of Arab-Americans – NYC, http://www.arab-american.net/
    NY Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel
    Solidarity, http://www.solidarity-us.org
    Socialist Action, http://www.socialistaction.org
    WESPAC Foundation, http://www.wespac.org

  49. Lynne T Says:

    David D:

    While check of “Adalah NY”‘s website does not reveal any direct connection with Adalah “Israel”, NGO Monitor has lots to say about the latter, including it’s contribution to Durban I, which was pretty much the founding convention for the BDS movement:

    http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/adalah_abusing_civil_rights_to_delegitimize_israel_

  50. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Active Participation in the Durban 2001 Conference
    Adalah Director Hassan Jabareen and several colleagues played an active part in the NGO Forum of the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) held in Durban in 2001. The Adalah representatives “organized two panels (“Race, Politics, and Constitutionalism” and “Political Participation of Minority, Native and Indigenous Peoples”) and participated in a third panel organized by Amnesty International.” Adalah also distributed copies of their report, ‘Institutionalized Discrimination Against Palestinian Citizens of Israel,’ to the conference. As many participants and observers have recognized, this NGO Forum was used to promote demonization of Israel and anti-Semitism, and served as the foundation for the campaign of boycotts, demonization, and sanctions (BDS).”

    Adalah attended Durban 1 and presented papers. Durban 1 was a hate-fest of antisemitism.

    Is NGO monitor saying that these papers were part of that hatred – i.e. that Adalah – and, therefore, any ngo group from Israel and elsewhere who attended was part of the disgusting attacks? Because, at the moment, as written, the guilt is by association.

    As far as I am aware, the question of “institutionalized racism” is a perfectly legitimate issue to raise. Indeed, Engage has shown how UCU is a prime example of such a thing.

    Meanwhile, whilst the subjct has been changed from IT, the following may be interesting in terms of what the current Israel government thinks, not just of those who raise the question of HR, but also of those who think differently. Talking of Israel’s refusal to send their ambassador to a meeting of J-Street, a commentator of Ha’aretz notes,

    “Apparently this is yet another deplorable result of the disproportionate influence that the far right, here and in the United States, has over Benjamin Netanyahu”.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1151411.html

    As I noted before, the Israeli right are no different from other rightists anywhere in the world – they despise anyone who disagrees with them, and will do what they can to stop them spreading their own message. A bit like those in the UCU who demand a boycott of Israel and demonise all those who think differently.

  51. Lynne T Says:

    AO:

    NGO Monitor offers and links to more than just “guilt by association”:

    Ignoring the context of terror: Adalah’s petition against Israel’s ‘Nationality and Entry into Israel Law’
    Following a series of terror attacks involving Palestinians who gained Israeli citizenship by marrying Israeli Arabs, the Knesset adopted the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (2003) which limited the granting of automatic citizenship in such cases. In August 2003, Adalah submitted a petition against this law to the Supreme Court alleging that the “new law violates the constitutionally-protected rights of equality, liberty and privacy, as it limits the ability of Israeli citizens’, namely Palestinian citizens of Israel, to exercise these rights based on the ethnicity of their spouses.” Adalah falsely attributed “racist motives to Israeli policies that are necessitated by the security situation.”

    In its campaigns, Adalah completely distorted the impetus for the law, and the instances in which suicide bombers and explosives were smuggled through checkpoints into Israel by people granted legal status in Israel based on their marriage to an Israeli citizen (a severe security concern as noted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry). Adalah also failed to note that the situation in many other democratic nations, including America, France and Britain, whereby marriage to a citizen does not automatically guarantee residency or citizenship.

    Adalah issued a news update on 14 May 2006, commenting on the Supreme Court’s approval of the Family Unification Law, comparing Israel’s policies with those of apartheid South Africa:

    “In 1980, during Apartheid, a Court in South Africa refused to approve orders similar to the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, because they contradicted the right to a family…Supreme Court has instituted three tracks of citizenship on the basis of ethnic background: a direct track for Jews under the Law of Return; a middle track for foreigners according to the graduated procedure; and the harshest track, for Arab citizens.”

  52. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ignoring the context of terror: Adalah’s petition against Israel’s ‘Nationality and Entry into Israel Law’
    Following a series of terror attacks involving Palestinians who gained Israeli citizenship by marrying Israeli Arabs, the Knesset adopted the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (2003) which limited the granting of automatic citizenship in such cases. In August 2003, Adalah submitted a petition against this law to the Supreme Court alleging that the “new law violates the constitutionally-protected rights of equality, liberty and privacy, as it limits the ability of Israeli citizens’, namely Palestinian citizens of Israel, to exercise these rights based on the ethnicity of their spouses.” Adalah falsely attributed “racist motives to Israeli policies that are necessitated by the security situation.”

    Nough said…………….
    The use of “security” to introduce discriminatory, and, in this instance, racist, laws.

    I would expect any Israeli concerned about equality, etc. to challenge that law as well. (In the UK there were racist laws passed to. stop spouses and children of those new to Britian as well).

    The SC, quite rightly, gave short shrift to the Apartheid argument.

    I note the way the thread has gone. Perhaps we need to look at the structure, membership and founding of IT. It’s politics and its purpose (See Freedland above).

  53. Adam Levick Says:

    You simply can’t deny that NIF indeed funds NGOs who routinely demonize and delegitimize Israel. If you wish to take exception with anything in this NGO-Monitor report, I’d like to hear your argument.

    http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/nif_funded_ngos_goldstone_s_building_blocks#i

  54. British Jews boost engagement with Israel’s Arabs « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] bringing together groups who rarely share a public platform, including the Zionist Federation and New Israel Fund UK. Other groups putting their weight behind are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, The Pears […]

  55. Naomi Chazan: “Israel’s democracy is Israel’s soul” « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] what her organisation is doing about it. These reached a peak earlier this year with a well-funded smear campaign against NIF by right-wing pressure group, Im Tirtzu, which attempted to vilify Chazan and NIF as enemies of the […]

  56. Naomi Chazan: “Israel’s democracy is Israel’s soul” « Greens Engage Says:

    […] what her organisation is doing about it. These reached a peak earlier this year with a well-funded smear campaign against NIF by right-wing pressure group, Im Tirtzu, which attempted to vilify Chazan and NIF as enemies of the […]

  57. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    I draw your attention to the following…

    Stephen Round wrote in The Jewish Chronicle on March 11th 2010:

    “Nicholas Saphir, a Sussex-based farmer who is also a trustee of the Kessler Foundation which oversees the running of the JC, rejects any suggestion that the NIF was responsible for 94 per cent of submissions to the Goldstone Committee as asserted by right-wing group Im Tirzu.”

    It should be noted, however, that Mr Saphir is also Chairman of the New Israel Fund as well as being involved in “overseeing the running of The JC.” In such circumstances, could The JC’s current editorial policy actually be influenced by Nicholas Saphir and his New Israel Fund’s political views? If so, are we to conclude, as seems evident from reading the publication, that The JC is now moving very much left of centre, in the various debates concerning Israel and diaspora Jewry?


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