Jennifer Gurevich, VP for Operations and Administration for the New Israel Fund (NIF) was detained Wednesday night by officials from the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority. Gurevich complained to Ha’aretz that she underwent three questioning sessions in which she was asked to provide details regarding the fund’s activities, including the funding it give Israeli anti-Zionist NGOs. Gurevich, the former CEO of the San Francisco Jewish Federation, is in charge of the NIF budget.
Since its founding in 1979, in response to the 1977 Israeli elections that brought Likud to power, NIF has provided more than $300 million to more than 900 Israeli organizations, according to NGO Monitor. NIF believes that the Israeli government and public have strayed from the vision of Israel as a “Jewish homeland and a democracy.” The NIF says it “brings the broad range of civil rights, social justice and religious tolerance issues to the attention” of individuals and institutions, including the media and the Knesset.
NIF publishes a list of donors in its annual reports, but some appear as “anonymous.” NIF is not registered with the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, despite the fact that its grants are awarded to organizations based in Israel.
Although NIF claims that it “will not fund global BDS activities against Israel nor support organizations that have global BDS programs,” it funds Adalah, Breaking the Silence, +972 Magazine, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, who are primarily active in campaigns that contribute to BDS and delegitimization. In press releases, conferences, UN sessions, and submissions to the International Criminal Court, these NIF-funded NGOs emphasize unsupported allegations of “deliberate, systematic, and widespread targeting of Palestinian civilians;” “war crimes and crimes against humanity;” and “grave violations of international humanitarian law.”
According to Gurevich, a Border Control Officer asked her if she works with Palestinian NGOs, to which she responded that her groups works with all the citizens of Israel. “I told him I’m Jewish and Zionist, but he responded cynically, ‘Sure, Zionist.'” The officer directed her to an interrogation room nearby. There Gurevich was interviewed by a security woman who took down her personal details, including phone, email, and the names of her father and grandfather.
Gurevich told Ha’aretz that she spotted the word BDS that appeared in several spots on the paper before the security woman. “She asked me what the NIF does and I told her we fund organizations in Israel’s civic society and object to BDS,” Gurevich said.
Talia Sasson, President of the New Israel Fund, member of the Meretz party, and the attorney who single-handedly fashioned the Sharon government’s vehement anti-settlements policy, in preparation for the unilateral evacuation of the Jews of Judea and Samaria, called the Gurevich detention “A serious act of intimidation against a social activist because of her activity on behalf of Israel and Israeli society.” She accused the Netanyahu government of turning their anti-civil rights campaign against diaspora Jews.
It should be noted in this context that Gurevich should be able to make Aliyah whenever she so desires, based on her being Jewish, and act to her heart’s content to better Israeli society. Pouring millions from abroad into anti-Israeli organizations, however, is legitimate grounds for questioning.
The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority released a statement saying Gurevich raised the suspicion of border control officers and was thus detained for an hour or so. Despite the insinuation, the Authority continued, the NIF official was not questioned regarding her pro-BDS activities, which were not the reason for the interrogation.