Chetboun and others are quick to credit the NIF for its many helpful activities, such as those that uplift battered women and the disadvantaged. But they also complain that the NIF constitutes the biggest and most powerful political lobbyist in the Knesset.
Adalah, another Israeli NGO, brags that it has devoted itself to getting Israelis prosecuted for war crimes. Among its efforts was the now-recanted Goldstone Report. On its website, Adalah confirms: “The Goldstone Mission report is a watershed…[it] contains thirty-five direct references to Adalah on ten separate legal cases and mentions many other Gaza cases handled by Adalah without specifically citing the organization. The Goldstone Mission dedicated an entire chapter…relying extensively on Adalah’s report.”
According to NIF officials, in 2011 Adalah received $84,000 in core grants – NIF’s own grant money – plus $321,275 in donor-advised (DA) grants, that is, those grants wherein third parties channeled tax-deductible money through NIF for directed purposes. This money is subsidized by American taxpayers.
In the Arab town of Nabi Saleh, a rambunctious protest is scheduled like clockwork every Friday after prayers. Often, the crowd action becomes a violent riot that must be contained by the IDF to keep the road open. Critics charge that during the riots, children are regularly used as front line human shields and endangered by their parents for political purposes – this to play for the always rolling B’Tselem cameras. Indeed, in Nabi Saleh this reporter observed children frequently pushed by their parents to harass an Israeli soldier, sometimes inches from the soldier’s face, to create an embarrassing video moment when the soldier finally reacts.
The village’s chief chronicler of the violence, and a key protest leader, is Manal Tamini. Manal said she is paid to record the “testimonies” of those in Nabi Saleh who are injured or otherwise suffer from the weekly clashes. She is not paid every month, just when circumstances of the Israeli action warrant it – that is, when the incident creates victims. That isn’t every Friday, because sometimes the demonstrations don’t yield injuries. No injuries, no payment. “Sometimes it is $1,000 in a month,” Manal said. Over a typical year, those sums amount to two to four times the average annual West Bank salary.
Manal explains that her work is done under an annual contract with the tax-exempt Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling. The WCLAC is a Palestinian NGO devoted to women’s rights, working to ensure that Palestinian women are “living in a just and equal Palestinian society where they enjoy all of their human rights.” Salwa Duaibis, WCLAC’s coordinator for international advocacy, confirms the compensation, “Yes, it is $85 per incident, and added to this is any additional cost, such as transportation and telephone. Manal only reports on incidents.”
In 2012, $85 was triple or quadruple the average Palestinian daily wage. The WCLAC lists numerous international donors. Among them are the tax-exempt Open Society Foundations of American billionaire George Soros, which finances WCLAC through grant number #20034661.
American policy is to support peace and reconciliation through millions of annual taxpayer dollars. But many in Israel believe the opposite is occurring. Instead, American money is too often being misused by scores of NGOs to finance the flames.