PREMATURE TO CELEBRATE
Ma’ariv. Sept. 21, 2010 by Ben-Dror Yemini (comment) — The New Israel Fund assists dozens of organizations that do sacred work in fields such as social assistance, women’s rights, environment issues and others. The problem is with other organizations, which are not fringe organizations, that have a common political denominator: they are either part of the industry of lies against the State of Israel or they are opposed to the very existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
In the course of this past year the New Israel Fund, among whose leaders and donors are Jews and Zionists, has been criticized for budgeting those organizations in question. A significant portion of articles that were printed here on these pages found their way to those donors. If the New Israel Fund truly does change the criteria for funding-it will be deserving of all praise. Rumors about that have been circulating for a long time. Up until now they have been denied.
Now the CEO of the New Israel Fund, Daniel Sokatch, comes along in person and claims that there is going to be a change. But this is something that ought to be regarded with skepticism, because the CEO of the NIF in Israel, Rachel Liel, said a number of months ago that the New Israel Fund would not grant funding to organizations that demanded that Israelis be prosecuted overseas. When I asked her for clarifications, she said that “if one organization or another did that, then this was neither with the consent of the New Israel Fund nor with its funds. The New Israel Fund will examine each incident individually and will make decisions accordingly.”
An official New Israel Fund document presents a somewhat different position: “Despite the fact that we will continue to say publicly and privately to our allies and to the recipients that the Fund does not support BDS (boycott and sanctions against Israel), we will neither cancel nor reduce the support grants to entities that disagree with us on the tactical level.”
Liel’s statements were an attempt to whitewash the truth. The Women’s Peace Coalition supports the BDS and prosecuting Israelis. This is not a marginal position that is maintained by the coalition. It is a position that appeared as a central item on its homepage. And this coalition continuers to receive New Israel Fund budgets.
Will Sokatch’s announcement prove to be another act of deception, as Liel’s was? There have not been any reports thus far about a suspension of funding to any of the organizations that are opposed to the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Will the New Israel Fund post new criteria? Will organizations, such as Adalah, which aspire to undermine Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state and support the “right of return,” receive budgets? Will the women’s coalition receive more funding? Time will tell. The announcement is a sign of deliberation. That too is progress.
We need to give the New Israel Fund time. It can revert to being the fund that was established-for the State of Israel, as a Jewish state, in keeping with the declaration of independence. The New Israel Fund is to blame for most of the criticism that it received. Its deliberations took far too long. Now is an opportunity to make decisions. It still isn’t too late.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE FUND
Israel Hayom by Dan Margalit. Sept. 21, 2010 — The standing of Israeli democracy both in Israel and around the world will be diminished if it tries to impose a form of thought police against academia or social organizations. Silencing people is much more dangerous than anything that those disgusting silenced mouths might have said.
That is why as someone who fully condemns teachers who encourage a boycott of Israel while residing in it, I would suggest that we disagree with them and go so far as to distance ourselves from them and to make them feel that they are ostracized, but I am opposed to any action that might undermine their professional standing at their universities and their chances of being promoted therein.
The same applies to the New Israel Fund. No one forbids it to act. I would urge no one to meddle in its right to support hostile organizations. Even those that deny the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, as every other people. Even if it were to support someone like the British lord who supported the Nazis, I would suggest that it not be banned from taking whatever action it sees fit to take.
That said, the right to criticize it and the list of organizations that enjoy its support remains absolute. It is the right of Im Tirtzu and the journalist Ben-Dror Yemini from Ma’arivand Dr. Dror Ider from Israel Hayom. That is the established right for full disclosure in terms of which organizations the New Israel Fund chooses to support and which it does not. An organization such as the New Israel Fund is not obliged to withhold its support for hostile organizations unless their declared goal is to deny the right of a Jewish and democratic State of Israel to exist.
Yesterday it seemed that the New Israel Fund had turned an attentive ear. It announced that it would not grant further funding to organizations that denied the Jewish people’s right to a state of its own. What is wrong with that? The entire declaration of independence, which is the first document of free Israel, is the historical explanation by David Ben-Gurion for the existence of that national right. A right that is no less valid that the need for a country for persecuted Jews.
That step is laudable. The New Israel Fund considered the criticism against it seriously and respectfully. It is redefining its objectives It will not damage opposition or critical organizations, but it will not withdraw from the broadest national consensus either. That is so noble and wise, without conceding anything on substance.
But then in the evening there was a correction that ruined the correction. It said that “what was is what will be,’ and that there is nothing new under the sun. Even organizations that advocate the destruction of Israel are invited to step up to the cash register. What a shame