Founded by recently elected Balad party Arab-Israeli Knesset legislator Hanin Zoabi, I’lam does not hide its agenda: to question the legitimacy of Israel in the court of world opinion.
In the aftermath of the October 2000 riots, Zoabi, a self-described Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, co-founded the NGO I’lam where she later served as director.
Under her guidance, I’lam issued press statements, engaged in lobbying over policy, led tours for foreign correspondents, provided information on Israeli-Arabs to Jewish journalists and ran Arabic language courses in journalism.
Among charges laid against Israel in materials distributed by I’lam are accusations that the Hebrew media contains “Encouragement for killing and destruction…” and that the editors of Ma’ariv “call for the destruction of cities, wiping out villages and killing children.” I’lam makes similar claims regarding Yediot Acharonot stating that the editor in chief of Yehiot Aharonot issued a “call to kill civilians.”
In the same press release I’lam claimed, “The Israeli media should not shape public opinion that is separate from its surrounding environment [the Arab world] and from international public opinion” and demanded that “the Israeli media to avoid the militant, patriotic performance that it adopts.”
I’lam has also made the claim that “…Israeli authorities have been responsible for over 400 violations of journalists’ rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ranging from mere bureaucratic harassment to outright killings”
I’lam views the Hebrew press as a tool of the government.
In one of her first interviews with the Israeli media as an MK, Ms. Zoabi went on the record with the Jerusalem Post as saying that she supported Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to Israel. In the interview she also stated that she is not loyal to the state of Israel as currently constituted.
MK Zoabi, in her capacity as director of I’lam helped draft and signed the Haifa Declaration. The Declaration was a proposal, supported by a large cross section of Arab civil society, which called for the negation of Israel’s Jewish identity and for a “comprehensive change in Israeli policy, whereby Israel abandons its destructive role towards the peoples of the region…”
Most recently, Zoabi had kind words to say about the armed rebellion against Israel. As she said to Australian news outlet GreenLeft “We don’t live in the territories, we cannot throw stones and we cannot participate in the legitimate resistance against occupation.”
I’lam is financed by the Washington DC based New Israel Fund, an American Jewish philanthropic foundation, which also sponsors Israeli-Arab NGOs Adalah and Mossawa. All these groups call for the removal of Israel’s Jewish identity and for the return of Arab refugees to the lands inside the 1948 armistice lines.
In addition to receiving funds from the NIF, I’lam is also a grantee of the organization Al-Quds: Capital of Arab Culture, a group spawned by both the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League.
In an press release dated March 4, 2009, I’lam Empowerment Coordinator, Zaher Boulos issued a ”cry of solidarity with the Palestinian people who hold strong to the establishment of a Palestinian state that is independent with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of the refugees to their homes” at the annual conference of the Forum of Journalists, an I’lam affiliate of which he is also coordinator.
At the conference the Forum resolved “Support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees.“
Also in March, I’lam issued a press release stating that Israel cannot “liquidate the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Arab culture and will be the future capital of a Palestinian state, and tomorrow will be the focal point of the Arab and Islamic world and the progressive forces in the world.”
The terminology in I’lam’s media publications rebound with terms such as “massacre” and “ethnic cleansing.”
In a video I’lam produced entitled Lama Zafouk, the charge is made that Israeli security forces engaged in executions of unarmed and cowering Arabs. According to the video “Three soldiers went down, wearing green. They went down to this area. They beat two young men, that were hiding under the olive tree, and killed them in cold blood at a range of two meters.”
In her position as director of I’lam, Hanin Zoabi attended events such as Israel Apartheid Week. She also issued calls for Arabs to refuse any form of national service in Israel.
In 2008 the organization held a conference in Ramallah with journalists from the PA which “aimed to develop and facilitate working relationships between Palestinians journalists in Israel and in the West Bank, and to discuss the role of the Palestinian media on both sides of the Green Line” as well as “Exploring strategies for Palestinian media practitioners in addressing Israeli, European, and US-American media.” (http://tinyurl.com/lv8egg and http://tinyurl.com/nvbgpx )
The connection of I’lam to the Palestinian Authority is reflected by its hired personnel.
The current director of I’lam, Sanaa Hammoud came to I’lam after serving as a consultant in the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department.
Meanwhile, Wadea Awawdy, who served on the founding I’lam board of directors, when Ilam was founded in 2000, has worked as a correspondent for the official Palestinian Authority publication Al-Ayyam.
Statements of support for Hamas, which is termed the “Palestinian resistance”, and a link to the website of Hamas’ armed wing, the Essedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, given as a legitimate source of information (http://tinyurl.com/mcnrnv ), have been found on a blog belonging to I’lam’s International Relations Coordinator, Nasser Victor Rego.
On May 16, 2007, the day the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ended, Nasser used his online identity as the blogger Nasrawi to post a comment on in which he gives regards on behalf of the staff of I’lam. “Stay strong – regards from me and all the staff at I’lam.”
Nasser also left a comment on another blog in which he said, “Unfortunately for Israel, Hamas is not playing the same game. It could very well play the same game if weakened enough, but it seems a genuinely emancipatory liberation and resistance movement … Israel is targetting civilians in the Strip to deflect and neutralise sentiment and action of a genuine liberation of Palestinians from subjugation.” (http://tinyurl.com/8tdp32 )
Nasser did not respond to email queries regarding his comments.
Meanwhile, I’lam board member Anton Shalhat was prevented from leaving Israel throughout 2006 and 2007 due to a recommendation from the General Security Services that stated that he may “harm the security of the state
“It is the policy of The New Israel Fund to support Israel as a Jewish state and to oppose the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to claim lands from 1948. However, in an email statement with journalist blogger Harris Phillipson, an NIF spokesperson wrote that “The New Israel Fund does not require ideological conformity from its grantees, and we differ with many of them on key issues”
The Middle East Forum recently commissioned a report on I’lam by the Center for Near East Policy Research which can be found online at