News & Media Articles

The Attack on NIF: Supporters Weigh In

09 February 2010 By New Israel Fund

"Particularly, I want to reach out to those parts of the Jewish community, especially the young American Jewish community, that have grown distant from Israel," Oren said. He made certain to mention his embrace of the New Israel Fund, a liberal American group attacked by some of the Israeli right last week.

"One of the first things I did when I took office is meet with New Israel Fund," he said. "They were in my office. I want to be as inclusive as possible. With that, I also have to uphold what I see as Israel's essential security interests. It's a bit of a balancing act." --Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States

"So the fight here isn't over funding.  It's about free speech.  For several decades, the brightest spot in Israeli democracy has been the growth of groups independent of the government and political parties that promote civil rights and social equality…The New Israel Fund has helped these and many other groups financially.  In the process, it has given liberal Diaspora Jews a way to contribute to Israel's future -- without schizophrenically acting as liberals at home and jingoists in Israel."  - Gershom Gorenberg

The Forward reported that the IDF has been working with Israel's human rights community for internal investigations: "Israel's January 29 report to the United Nations revealed that the military cooperated with an Israeli human rights group, [NIF grantee] B'Tselem, for the same purpose. The report stated that the army had interviewed more than 100 Palestinian witnesses as part of its ongoing Cast Lead-related investigations…The Forward has also confirmed that other human rights groups, including [NIF grantee] Adalah and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza, have been cooperating with the IDF."

 "In their twisted attribution of blame for the Goldstone Report to the NIF, these attackers are trying to delegitimize the New Israel Fund in much the same way that the Goldstone Report is being used to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world." -- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

"Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the Im Tirtzu charges "an outrageous broadside," telling The Jewish Week 'it is absurd to blame Goldstone on NIF." – New York Jewish Week.  Foxman later told Coteret that "the accusations of the right wing NGO were impudent.  "It's almost undemocratic," Foxman said."

"An investigation in Israel could harm other Jewish organizations.  Questions will be raised about political involvement in a foreign country, dual loyalty and tax offenses….[an Israeli MK]  received a phone call from a leader of one of the Jewish organizations.  "Have you gone mad?" the man lashed out at Rivlin.  "You're going to investigate us for funds we send to you?  You're out of your minds." - Israel's leading columnist, Nahum Barnea

 "Recently, a courageous group in Israel, the New Israel Fund, stood up and questioned the IDF's conduct during the Gaza war…It wasn't that the NIF criticized its government for moral lapses that angers its critics. That NIF criticized Israel at all is what has provoked the venom." – Ray Hanania, Jerusalem Post

"The more severe problem is that the discourse that that campaign represents has trickled down into the Israeli media, including this very newspaper in which this article has been published, as if this were a central and normative school of thought in Israeli society….The truth is that Shoval [leader of In Tirtzu] represents a nationalist organization with an extremist ideology that calls for an end to freedom of speech, in the event that the speaker belongs to a "subversive" organization, such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel."

"The New Israel Fund and the organizations that are cited by the report busy themselves every day protecting the rights of women, the unemployed, the handicapped, foreign workers, Arab citizens of Israel and also Palestinians... Israeli society cannot afford to remove them from public discourse." Merav David and Maya Bengal, Two senior Maariv reporters

"This same person [Im Tirtzu's founder and chairman, Ronen Shoval], who is completely devoid of all understanding of the essence of democracy, is now crudely going after the New Israel Fund, which since it was founded has distributed $140 million to dozens of NGOs that pursue peace, equality and social justice. Yes, these include charities that believe that Operation Cast Lead wreaked a moral disaster on Israel and acted accordingly. They took statements and published them - in other words they fulfilled their purpose, in a professional and credible manner. Even the Israel Defense Forces relied on their sources…" – Gideon Levy, Haaretz

"It will not be weaponry that decides this war, but courage. People who care about the direction that Israel is moving, and whose watchword is moderation, would do well to choose one facet of the fight, and join. One place to start, is to support the New Israel Fund and the groups it supports." - Bradley Burston, Haaretz

"Over the years, the NIF has worked to promote democracy and freedom and to build Israel's civil society by funding a variety of NGOs; its contributions to Israeli society are unquestionable.  Im Tirzu's scapegoating of this important organization is merely a lame attempt to distract from the real issue, the IDF's comportment during Cast Lead.  But this attempt to delegitimize the NIF is only the latest in a disturbing trend of attacks on Israel's civil society." -- Brad Rothschild

"Self-styled patriots set out on a malicious campaign against the New Israel Fund and its leader, Prof. Naomi Chazan. Ironically, their thuggish campaign draws its graphic inspiration from the worst anti-Semitic propagandists. And maybe it's not so surprising that both have a common denominator, since hatred is hatred, racism is racism, and fascism is fascism, whether it's directed against Jews by the haters of Israel, or whether it's directed by Jewish racists against the objects of their hatred." - Meretz chair Haim Oron

"Hounding humans because of their beliefs is McCarthyism, and is a danger to Israeli democracy," he said. "One of the most basic democratic rights is the right to voice criticism. The attempt to silence, to prevent protest, and to enforce a particular definition of nationalism and patriotism is a slippery slope that endangers us all." - Welfare Minister MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) on the attacks against the New Israel Fund

"This week, a right-wing movement, Im Tirtzu, has launched a campaign against the New Israel Fund, a 30-year-old organization that supports various human-rights groups in Israel…On Thursday, NIF president Naomi Chazan was told by The Jerusalem Post that it was dropping her weekly column.  One more critical voice is quieted, and the rest of the country goes back to planning its Passover vacation." – Patrick Martin, The Globe and  Mail

"Surprisingly – or perhaps not – Shoval managed to harp on the McCarthyist sentiment in Israel, which worked very effectively with MK Otniel Schneller, for example. That same afternoon, a stormy debate already took place in the Knesset plenum, following demands by MKs that the Knesset discuss reports about the new fund.  The speakers used tough words such as traitor, fifth column, and collaborator, which were aimed at Naomi Chazan, former MK and New Israel Fund president, as well as Meretz MKs Chaim (Jumes) Oron and Ilan Gilon.  The fund was attacked in the name of patriotism and defending IDF soldiers and Israel's durability." – Sima Kadmon, Yediot Achronot