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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘New Israel Fund’

Jewish Communal Fund Provides Millions To New Israel Fund

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

In recent years, there has been controversy surrounding the participation of the New Israel Fund (NIF) in the Salute to Israel Day Parade. NIF supports the Anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and is a well-organized machine that raises nearly $30 Million annually which largely goes to organizations in Israel that harm the Jewish State. Rightfully, there has been outrage at allowing them to march.

Those of us who oppose the NIF must remember that we must also condemn all allies and donors of the organization. As political strategist Hank Sheinkopf wrote recently, “Those who stand with New Israel Fund are standing against Israel. To suggest otherwise is a lie. I urge anyone affiliated with the NIF to stop supporting this organization financially. The New Israel Fund must be ostracized by the Jewish community.”

Refuting the New Israel Fund must cross all religious and political differences we hold in our community. As we stand against Neturei Karta, we must stand against BDS and NIF.

The Jewish Communal Fund, (JCF) the largest Jewish donor advised fund in the country, manages $1.3 billion in charitable assets for 3,100 funds. An organization for the mega-rich, they facilitate and promote charitable giving to sectarian and nonsectarian organizations through donor-advised funds and provide support to Jewish organizations.

Amongst their very rich donor list – which can be found here – there are a plethora of very wealthy Jewish philanthropists from across the political and religious spectrum. So too, are the charities to which these donors give generously to across the political spectrum – from yeshivas to community centers, settlements to healthcare organizations. They do very important philanthropic work.

Yet, buried in the tax-returns of the JCF, one finds that they funneled millions of dollars to NIF in the last few years. That is not OK. By reviewing the website of NIF, one sees that “NIF will thus not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.”

How many JCF donors support the viewpoints of Alma Biblash, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) an organization whom the NIF authorized grants worth $332,625 to from 2011-2013, and has called Israel “racist,” and “murderous,” and described the country as a “temporary Jewish apartheid state.” Biblash promotes the Palestinian ‘right of return.’ NIF is regularly accused of “lobbying and funding activities that are all part of a campaign to destabilize the IDF” – how can the JCF send NIF money?

In their policies handbook, The Jewish Communal Fund notes they are “committed to supporting causes that promote the welfare and security of the Jewish community here and abroad. Consequently, as part of the grant review process, the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Communal Fund retains the right to deny any grant request where the purposes and activities of the recommended charitable organization are deemed to be adverse to the interests of the Jewish community.”

Surely, the JCF will agree that BDS does not promote the welfare and security of the Jewish community. There is a clear conflict of interest for the President of JCF, Karen R. Adler and UJA Federation President Alisa Doctoroff, a JCF board member who personally support NIF with major money. One cannot donate to NIF and be a decision maker in the mainstream Jewish community.

Those of us who stand against BDS must demand that all Jewish organizations who support New Israel Fund stop providing them funds. The New Israel Fund must be ostracized by the Jewish community. As Sheinkopf said, “We must not allow the annual Israel Day Parade to be maligned by traitors whose activities prove they stand against Israel.” Similarly, the Jewish Communal Fund, UJA and others must no longer provide funds to the New Israel Fund.

If you care for Israel, walk away from the New Israel Fund. There is no other choice.

(Author’s note: For full disclosure The Jewish Communal Fund provides funds to organizations of which the author is a board member.)

NYC Israel Parade Exec Cries Foul Over Jewish Press Article

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

On Friday, an article ran on this site: “For NYC Israel Day Parade, BDS Banned Only in Words.” There was a mistake in it, which we take this opportunity to correct.

The focus of that article was on what at first seemed to be a big change for this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade. In the registration packet for this year’s marchers was a set of guidelines which, on the face of it, clearly prohibited any group from marching that supports economic warfare against Israel.

The new guidelines’ language was quoted in that article: “All Groups must oppose, not fund, nor advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by not recognizing it as a Jewish state.”

In the past, the parade organizers had permitted groups to march which explicitly advocate (or fund groups which explicitly advocate) boycotts of companies located beyond the so-called “Green Line.” For this reason, a reporter from The Jewish Press contacted parade officials. That reporter’s conversation with Michael Mittelman, Celebrate Israel director and the associate general counsel of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, was recounted in the Feb. 13 article.

The article stated that Mittelman refused to answer questions about whether or not the parade organizers will permit groups to march which support boycotts of Israeli products over the “Green Line.”

The reporter finally asked Mittelman point blank: would groups that advocate boycotts against SodaStream and Ahava be permitted to march? SodaStream used to be located outside of “Green Line” Israel and some people claim the Dead Sea is part of “Palestinian” territory. Mittelman refused to answer.

Mittelman repeatedly stated that the only further words the parade organizers would say on the topic were contained in a statement, which he promised to send.

The Feb. 13 article stated that Mittelman never sent that statement.

IN FACT, Mittelman did send the promised statement. Unfortunately, that email went to this reporter’s SPAM mailbox and remained there until Monday, Feb. 16, when she was informed that Mittelman had complained about several things in the Feb. 13 article.

The other complaints about the article in Mittelman’s letter concerned how he was portrayed and the functionality of the links on his site, about which disagreement remains, but it is absolutely true that he had, as promised, emailed the statement and one of the two linked-to articles.

However, one point in the article – the main point – was not disputed by Mittelman. He did not assert that the article falsely suggested the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade would permit groups to march that advocate boycotts of Israeli products made by Israeli companies located beyond the Green Line. In a legal arena, one could claim that such an omission constitutes a form of admission.

And Mittelman did not claim that the article was wrong in stating that the New Israel Fund, an entity which has funded and supports groups that boycott “beyond Green Line” Israeli companies, would be marching in this year’s parade because the new guidelines do not bar it, as an NIF official told another reporter.

The statement Mittelman was so exercised about — and which he repeatedly invoked as the JCRC’s final word about which groups could march in this year’s parade — simply repeats the new language in the Guidelines which was quoted in the Feb. 13 article.

There you have it. This reporter was wrong – albeit inadvertently – when she asserted that Michael Mittelman did not send the JCRC statement as promised.

She appears not to have been wrong about something much more important: the new language in this year’s guidelines for the 2015 Celebrate Israel Parade which appears to ban from marching those who advocate economic warfare against Israel is, in fact, no change at all.

For NYC Israel Day Parade, BDS Banned Only in Words

Friday, February 13th, 2015

This year New York’s annual parade to celebrate Israel will, despite blatant efforts by New York Jewish “leadership” to fool those concerned, once again include groups supporting economic sanctions against Israel.

You see, the New York Jewish leadership apparently thinks boycotting some Jews in Israel is acceptable, so long as their companies are located beyond where the Palestinian Authority wants them.

For all pro-Israel Jews, Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people, but for most American Jews, New York City is the undisputed Diaspora capital of the Jewish people.

That’s at least one good reason why battle lines were drawn over who and what should be permitted to march in New York City’s Annual Israel Day Parade (it’s officially known as the Celebrate Israel Parade, but people who have marched in or watched it for years and years still automatically call it the Israel Day Parade).

There has been an extremely vocal group of pro-Israel advocates desperately trying to ensure that the people who march in the Israel Day Parade  are actually pro-Israel in deed, and not just in slogan. They haven’t set the bar high – just high enough to keep out those whose actions seek to harm Israel, or those who fund those who do – from participating,

That band of warriors has been led by Richard Allen, a New York City businessman and founder of JCC Watch.

The primary target of the “keep the Celebrate Israel Parade pro-Israel” coalition has been groups, such as the New Israel Fund, which financially supports organizations which advocate economic warfare against Israel, and Partners for a Progressive Israel, which itself proudly advocates boycotting such iconic Israeli companies as SodaStream and Ahava.

In January, when the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York released its 2015 registration packet for the parade, people like Richard Allen and others in the coalition to keep the Israel Day Parade pro-Israel initially rejoiced.

But only momentarily.

The 2015 Marching Group Rules contained in the packet states clearly that all groups participating must identify with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and the homeland of the Jewish People.

The third rule states clearly that BDS groups may not participate. It states:

“All Groups must oppose, not fund, nor advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by not recognizing it as a Jewish state.”

Just below that rule, the packet links to further information. Unfortunately, neither of the links work, and only one could be found on the web. That one did not provide any further enlightenment than did the ostensibly clear rule.

When The Jewish Press contacted the JCRC of NY, Michael Mittleman, director of  the “Celebrate Israel” department, refused to explain what was meant by barring groups from participating in the parade if they do “not fund, nor advocate for” BDS.

Mittleman would only say that the JCRC had a statement it had released, which he promised to forward, on the topic and it was the last word he or any of them would say about the topic.

The conversation went from cordial to less so, as the reporter attempted to get Mittleman to expand on any specifics. The reporter asked, point blank, whether groups which advocate boycotts of such companies as SodaStream and Ahava would be permitted to march in the parade.

Mittleman would not answer other than say the only information the JCRC would provide on the topic was in the statement which he would forward.

Uh oh.

The “Celebrate Israel” director acknowledged, when pressed, that a decision about whether a specific group would be permitted or wouldn’t be permitted to march would have to be made, but he simply would not state what criterion would be used, beyond what was already in the 2015 parade rules and what was in the statement he promised to forward.

V15 – Look Who is Behind the New US Democratic-Style Campaign in Israel

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

There’s a new grassroots, door-to-door knocking, community organizing style campaign effort that just landed in Israel. It’s focused on hoping for change and changing for hope and taking-the-street-to-the-street style shake it up electioneering.

Flying in to run the show is none other than Jeremy Bird. The same Bird who was the deputy national campaign director and then national campaign director for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, respectively.

The new outfit is called V15 (as in Victory 2015), and it is a project of something called OneVoice, which is itself a program of the PeaceWorks Network, a non-profit, tax-exempt entity. Really. Funding this political campaign effort.

V15 sent out a press release in which it described itself as a “a non-partisan movement founded by young adults just as the 2015 Israeli elections were announced, V15 members have set aside party affiliation to disrupt the status quo.” But just about everybody else is calling it the “Anybody but Bibi” campaign.

So who is behind this V15, in addition to Obama’s former campaigns director? Well, as we learn from J.E Dyer, over at Liberty Unyielding, when OneVoice was formed in 2003, its inaugural board of advisers included Gary Gladstein. And who is Gladstein? He used to be the chief operations officer of Soros Fund Management. As in George Soros. Doesn’t it feel as if everything really, really awful has Soros’ fingerprints somehow, someway?

OneVoice explains in its 2014 Annual Report that it is dedicated to peaceful solutions in the Middle East. This is how it describes the actions it takes to bring about change:

promoting popular resistance, state-building, and the Arab Peace Initiative, while advocating for an end to the conflict and a two-state solution along the 1967 borders.

Hmm. Something is missing there. Nothing about ending terrorism or violence or incitement.

And it’s pretty much the same view of how to “resolve” the Middle East conflict that flows out of the White House and Foggy Bottom. In Secretary of State John Kerry’s requiem for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, he cited as one of the king’s greatest contributions, that the “courageous Arab Peace Initiative that he sponsored remains a critical document for the goal we shared of two states, Israel and Palestine.” 

Making cameo appearances in the OneVoice 2014 Annual Report are both Tzippi Livni and J Street. Not quite so apolitical as it claims.

Here’s another problematic aspect of this whole V15/OneVoice/PeaceWorks Network Foundation campaign effort. What does the PeaceWorks Foundation have to say about its OneVoice project on its tax return? It describes this project as an organization which “aims to amplify the voice of the silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity. These efforts are known as the OneVoice movement.”

And on its tax form, where it is required to state the purpose of grants it makes to entities or organizations outside of the U.S., including the grants it makes to the “Middle East and Africa,” the purpose it states is “educate peace and condemn violence.”  Nothing about running a campaign field office. And how could it, given it is a 501(c)(3) entity. Where is Lois Lerner when you need her?

Finally, there is another source of information about the kinds of bedfellows the V15/OneVoice/PeaceWorks Network keeps. It is the listing it provides of its partners. Along with at least half a dozen “peace” organizations and even the UK Conservative Party, it has lots of questionable listings. Those include: Association of British Muslims, the Christian Muslim Forum, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the New Israel Fund, Yachad (the “British J Street”), Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East, the UK Labour Party and Labour Friends of Israel.

"partner" of V15's parent organization

“partner” of V15’s parent organization

Their partners also include the European Commission and the U.S. Department of State.

There will be much more to come on V15.

NIF Slams Bennett for Honoring the Dead

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

The New Israel Fund has slammed Economy Minister Naftali Bennett for his strong stance in favor of Jewish tradition, and particularly to Jewish attitudes towards the respect due to human remains.

The Free Israel movement, a member of the New Israel Fund, had applied for permission to bring an exhibition of plastinated dead bodies to Israel. The individuals in question had reportedly donated their bodies to science before their deaths.

Bennett rejected the request, saying the exhibition violated basic Jewish standards of honoring the dead.

These exhibits are considered very controversial, starting with the basic concept of displaying dead bodies, to the question of where the bodies actually came from.

For years, there have been reports that bodies for some of these exhibits were harvested from Chinese prisoners. In 2012, France prohibited the exhibit for a while, and various US states and countries have strict regulations and even prohibitions against the exhibit.

While it is unclear whether NIF wants to host the exhibition for its scientific or artistic value, the group launched a particularly inane question at Bennett in a statement, asking whether his objection to the exhibition of dead bodies would also lead him to prohibit the appearance by popular music star Lady Gaza next month.

“Minister Bennett, like his friends in the Haredi political parties (apparently the NIF is unaware that Bennett and the Haredi parties are rather fierce political enemies – MHS) believes that he should determine (the appropriate border between Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish democracy).

“We say clearly that every individual should choose what exhibition to go to and what things to avoid. If there is enough interest in this exhibit, then apparently it would measure up to the Jewish democratic standards of the public. IN short – let us decide what is appropriate and what is not. Don’t force your Orthodox beliefs on us,” the NIF said.

NGO Monitor: B’Tselem’s Immoral Exploitation of the Kidnapping

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

On June 22, 2014, B’Tselem initiated a campaign in response to Israel’s military operation to locate the three kidnapped teenagers and weaken the Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank. In it, B’Tselem accuses Israel of “cynically exploiting the deep concern for the abducted teens” to “implement sweeping actions which intensify harm to the human rights of Palestinians.”

The title of the campaign,”Hitching a ride,” is itself an immoral and cynical exploitation of the circumstances of the kidnapping, which apparently occurred while the teens were hitchhiking.  B’Tselem also created a poster to accompany the campaign, featuring pictures of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon – reflecting the NGO’s partisan, political agenda.

B’Tselem’s donors include the European UnionNorway, DenmarkSweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UKChristian AidTrocaireDiakonia, and the New Israel Fund.  These funders share responsibility for enabling this immoral campaign.

In addition to its own campaign, B’Tselem joined 10 other Israeli political advocacy NGOs in a public letter falsely accusing Israel of “unnecessary violation of basic rights and collective punishment.”

The campaign has been met with strong criticism in Israeli mainstream and social media for B’Tselem’s profound insensitivity to the victims’ families, its refusal to recognize the inherent legitimacy and legality of Israel’s military operation and tactics, and its apparent disregard for Israeli public opinion.

Political advocacy NGOs often deliver unpopular messages to governments and the public at large. However, rarely do they do so in the most offensive way possible, with posters and slogans that more closely resemble political attack ads than human rights campaigns. Given B’Tselem’s politicized claims and campaigns, which do not adhere to universal human rights principles, it is no surprise the Israeli public questions B’Tselem’s credibility.

New Israel Fund Tries to Explain its Way Around BDS Ban

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

New Israel Fund (NIF) executive vice president Rabbi David Rosenn took disingenuousness to new heights during a talk held Wednesday evening, June 18, at the Jewish Center of Princeton, when he told the audience he refrained from using the term “occupied” territory to avoid “the hot button.”

In fact, Rosenn admitted that areas beyond the ‘green (1949 Armistice) line’—or Judea and Samaria, more accurate Biblical references he refused to use—are not considered Israel proper by him or NIF and therefore the NIF does not sponsor organizations which operate or are headquartered there. Yet NIF continues to be one of the largest funders of B’Tselem—the Israeli Information Center of the Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Either Rosenn missed B’Tselem’s actual name (it includes ‘in the Occupied Territories’) or he simply omitted the distinction between Jewish organizations in the territories – which they don’t fund – and non- or even anti-Jewish organizations, which they do fund.

B’Tselem is also the organization responsible for giving Arab Palestinians video cameras to record IDF responses (but only the IDF responses) to disrespectful and sometimes violent instigation. The number of recorded alleged IDF ‘violations’ dropped dramatically once the IDF armed soldiers with cameras to capture entire (rather than partial) incidents.

Despite a polite, restrained albeit particularly well informed line of questioning—this is Princeton, after all—Rosenn resorted to semantics, suggesting a distinction exists between organizations supporting the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel (BDS) movement—a clear violation of NIF’s stated policy—and organizations located in Israel calling for the boycott of “Settlement” products.

Really? After fielding several questions to clarify the NIF position, Rosenn, who had earlier claimed that the NIF needed to be “vigilant” in deciding which organizations to fund, attempted to dismiss concerns saying “if [NIF] focused on BDS, we wouldn’t be able to realize our mission.”

Perhaps it would surprise Rabbi Rosenn to know that NIF-grantee Adalah provides legal representation for several Arab organizations that promote BDS in Europe as well as in Israel. Perhaps not.

The NIF is also a “proud sponsor” of Breaking the Silence (BtS), an organization of former IDF soldiers apparently so damaged by the effects of war that they were unable to go through chain-of-command to report abuses and IDF policy violations, but found themselves more than capable of confiding in the UN commission that produced the fraudulent and now-debunked Goldstone Report.

Even HaAretz, Israel’s widely read left leaning daily, discredited the group in 2009 citing the BtS agenda as “purely political.”  How a political agenda, particularly one based on fictional events, “supports issues that are in the public good”—the primary definition of an NGO—is anyone’s guess.

There’s no doubt that some NIF grantees are doing respectable, perhaps even good work.  The problem is NIF is funded from outside of Israel and some of the sources are sketchy at best.  This concern precipitated new legislation in Israel that has forced the NIF to be more diligent in adhering to its own guidelines.  Even so, the relationship between NIF and the historically anti-Semitic Ford Foundation drew the attention of investigative reporter Edwin Black who follows NIF money in “Financing the Flames.”

How NIF funding decisions are made remained elusive, with Rosenn saying only that a professional grant department was responsible.

The biggest surprise of the night came when Rosenn asserted that all criticism of the NIF emanated from reports in NGO Monitor, a respected watchdog group that was instrumental in bringing the NIF funding to the Israeli public, and from JCC Watch founder Richard Allen. Allen’s gripe, according to Rosenn, with NYC Federation’s John Ruskay is what led to his attacks on the NIF.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/new-israel-fund-tries-to-explain-its-way-around-bds-ban/2014/06/19/

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