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March 27, 2015 1:15 am

Why Does New Israel Fund Continue to Support Anti-Israel Activities?

avatar by Ronn Torossian, Hank Sheinkopf, and George Birnbaum

BDS supporters. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

Count the Jewish establishment in the U.K. among those who stand against the New Israel Fund (NIF), and the organizations they support.

On April 17-19, 2015, the University of Southampton in the U.K. will play host to an academic conference, “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” which will explore “the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel” and will question the legality of the “foundation and protection of a state of such nature.”

Topics to be discussed include a plan to “diagnose the legal position” of Israel to enable “scholarly debate and disagreement” on the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. Various speakers for this event support and promote a “one-state” solution (the end of Israel as a Jewish State), endorse BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns targeting Israel, and practice lawfare against Israel.

To put it simply: this is major anti-Israel activism.

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Among those who will speak at the conference is Sawsan Zaher, Senior Attorney at Adalah. Adalah maintains a “Discriminatory Laws in Israel” database on its website, and has previously supported a 2008 “lawfare” case against Israeli officials. Zaher has stated that Israel’s alleged discriminatory laws constitute “apartheid.”

This organization has received (at least) $1,673,634 in funding from the NIF between 2008-2013.

Others speaking alongside this NIF grantee include Oren Ben-Dror, who supports academic boycotts of Israeli universities, Ilan Pappe who has said  “I support Hamas in its resistance against the Israeli occupation,” Nadim Rouhana – Professor of International Negotiation and Conflict Studies at Tufts University, who has said “recognition of Israel as a Jewish state” is “morally wrong,” and others.

As has been widely reported, Jewish leaders in the U.K. including the Board of Deputies of British Jews and U.K. Zionist Federation have urged a cancellation of this event.

A letter written late last year by  Jewish communal leaders in the U.K. defended free speech, yet noted that this conference is a case where it appears “to surpass the acceptable,” and that based on the title and advertised speakers, “it sets out explicitly to question the very legitimacy of a member state of the UN.”

Allowing the conference, they note, would be “a perverse, existential attack on a state.” They accused Southampton’s Law School of “being used as an academic platform to advance not just legitimate Palestinian national rights, to which we have no objection, but rather to blacken, demonize and delegitimize the very right of existence of the State of Israel.”

“What other state in the global community of nations – democratic or tyrannical – is ever subjected to such a critique? The Conference causes us great concern and distress. It will undoubtedly trouble greatly the members of the UK Jewish community,” they wrote.

The Jewish community of the U.K. opposes this conference. The ruling party of Israel, the Likud, calls New Israel Fund an “Anti-Zionist organization.” Yet, $30 million is given annually by American Jews to the New Israel Fund. They are guilty of aiding, abetting, and supporting these activities.

New Israel Fund consistently participates in, and organizes events that are harmful to the Jewish community, and Israel’s interests. Donors who care about Israel must stop giving.

NIF’s spokesperson, Naomi Paiss, recently noted that NIF-funded organizations have the right to make their own decisions. Indeed, everyone has the right to make decisions – which is why anyone who cares about Israel must stop donating funds to the New Israel Fund.

Rosa Luxemburg, a prominent Bolshevik once said, “I have no room in my heart for Jewish suffering – Why do you pester me with Jewish troubles?” Clearly New Israel Fund donors share these sentiments.

George Birnbaum is an international political consultant, who is partners with Arthur Finkelstein. Birnbaum formerly served as chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications is a leading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents.  His clients have included former President Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is a New York based entrepreneur and author of “For Immediate Release.”

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