Flying Into the Future

13 March 2015

Those of us in the social change business know that elections, even elections as important as these may turn out to be, are a necessary but not sufficient condition for liberal democracy. We certainly hope for a high turnout of Israeli voters exercising their fundamental civic right and responsibility, and we hope that issues of democracy, equality, social justice, religious freedom and peace are uppermost in their minds.

However, we are also aware that elections bring out both the best and worst trends in Israel. While we are heartened by the polls showing that many more Israelis are focused on issues of social and economic equity, we are also concerned by the increase in inflammatory rhetoric and polarizing tactics we’ve seen from various campaigns. The increase in overt racism, incitement and de-legitimization of different points of view are of great concern to us and to everyone who cares about a cohesive and healthy Israeli society.

Of course, the New Israel Fund has also been used as an election buzzword, particularly by candidates representing the hardline ultra-nationalist camp. We do not engage in partisan political activity, and I am saddened, but also proud, that the anti-democracy camp sees our social justice, civil and human rights and shared society work as such a threat.

There is ugliness in the US too. That we are targeted by the infamous Islamaphobe Pamela Geller, and by Ronn Torossian, whom Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg called “the most disreputable flack in New York,” is more than a bit ridiculous, although not particularly surprising. It is hard to imagine how anyone, including those paying for these attacks, could think that they would have even a shred of credibility in the larger American Jewish community. And we are heartened, as we always are, by the outpouring of love and support that we have experienced from across the political spectrum and from all points of the Jewish community (and beyond).

In the long run, which is also the timeline for social change, these kinds of smear campaigns don’t really matter much. Our investments in a better Israel, including the New Initiatives For Democracy program launched last year, are made strategically, with an eye towards success in three years, or five, or even twenty.

That’s why we know that this election is a moment in time – an important moment, but one that will not alter the values we stand for and the changes we seek. For your understanding of that long horizon, for your patience, and for your support of NIF even when, or especially when, we are under attack – thank you.


  1. Congratulations in leading the NIF’s standing up for respectful dialogue, human rights and civil rights and democracy. May the winds of change that seem to be happening in Israel these days blow the NIF into more and more successes.
    Good Luck,
    irle Goldman

  2. Interesting that the 4 main targeted NIF supporters are WOMEN, which shows what cowards they are – would they have targeted some prominent male Jewish leader? They didn’t and there’s certainly plenty of candidates… am NOT diminishing the status or honor of the women, but surmising the values of Geller and Tourossian…

  3. In the long run, individual smear campaigns don’t matter because they are forgotten as soon as the next smear campaign begins, It is a perpetual series of smear campaigns, and they cause perpetual pain to one group after another. They should never be dismissed as of no consequence. They are terrorists.
    Muslims are always criticized for not standing up against their extremists and preachers of hated. Jews should also take a loud, vocal stand against their own hate mongers, and Pamela Geller is one of the worst examples. Jews should be shouting that her vicious bigotry does not speak for them.

Comments are closed.