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April 7, 2015 5:48 pm

UJA and Jewish Communal Fund Must Reject the New Israel Fund

avatar by Ronn Torossian

The Temple Mount. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The State of Israel is under assault by a campaign that is partially financed by Jewish-American donors. There are a number of organizations supported by the New Israel Fund (NIF) that play an active role in promoting the delegitimization of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.

While the NIF may also be active in legitimate civil-related issues, any good they do is marred by their constant support for anti-Israel activities – and all donors must distance themselves from this heinous organization.

The NIF has drawn harsh public criticism from Knesset ministers across the political spectrum, senior IDF officials (including Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror), and has been called an anti-Zionist organization by the ruling Likud Party. One of the largest – and most effective – American Jewish organizations, Taglit-Birthright Israel, which held joint activities with the NIF for many years, has also cancelled its partnership with them.

Despite this, there remain American Jewish leaders and organizations that proudly fund the New Israel Fund. The community cannot ignore the fact that the President of the UJA-Federation, Alisa Doctoroff, and the President of Jewish Communal Fund, Karen R. Adler, donate funds to an organization that is deemed anti-Israel by Birthright and many others.

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Are the IDF, Government of Israel, Birthright, and others wrong – or are Doctoroff and Adler?

Some of the NIF’s organizations receive funding from the European Union and foreign governments, and a few NIF organizations also receive indirect grants from Arab countries and Palestinian funds. Do these sound like organizations good for Israel?

Recently, the NIF has been endeavoring to improve its image by offering interviews with senior NIF officials, who portray the fund’s activities in a positive light. Yet, their statements on several major issues are inaccurate at best, and are sometimes blatant lies.

For example, NIF-Israel Executive Director Rachel Liel declared in a March 2015 interview that NIF organizations did not actively provide information to the Goldstone Committee, but rather that the information was gleaned from the organizations’ publications on their websites.This is not true. Unfortunately for Liel, the organizations themselves admitted they had relayed the information.

While American Jewish leaders like Doctoroff and Adler claim to support the Israel Defense Forces, the reality is that their funds help support the involvement of NIF organizations and senior NIF figures in three main areas against Israel.  NIF funded organizations are active in war crimes and international law violations accusations against Israel and the IDF, the international prosecution of senior Israeli and IDF officials, and the encouragement of draft dodging and refusal to serve in the IDF. These activities continue even after NIF President Brian Lurie claimed in 2012 that he felt “really uncomfortable with touching the Israel Defense Forces,” and that he would “continue to monitor grantees to make sure certain ‘red lines’ are not crossed.

Yet, these red lines are crossed, and the NIF cover themselves by saying the organizations they donate to make their own decisions.

Last summer, during Operation Protective Edge, NIF organizations continued their activities against the IDF. For example:

1. NIF organizations submitted a joint letter to the UN Human Rights Council: “A coalition of 14 leading Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations in Israel, including Adalah, submitted a written statement to a special session of the UN Human Council. The NGOs urged the UN HR Council to call for an immediate end to the war and the targeting of civilian populations by all the parties, to condemn the deliberate, systematic and widespread targeting of Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, and to establish an independent international commission of inquiry be established to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

At the end of the petition, Israeli Palestinian-Arab civil society organizations called on the UN Human Rights Council to take the following steps: condemn Israel’s policy of striking at civilian targets, establish an independent international commission of inquiry with the authority to investigate and identify all the human rights violations perpetrated during Operation Protective Edge, etc.

2. NIF organizations called on the international community to intervene in events in the Gaza Strip. “We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn Israel’s unlawful targeting…We call on the international community to monitor closely the recent escalation of attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip, and to raise concerns of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity… We also urge the UN to initiate a fact-finding mission to investigate these events…

3. B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad gave an interview to Sky News during Operation Protective Edge and claimed, “Israel is illegally targeting the homes of Hamas commanders. These attacks, in and of themselves are inconsistent with international humanitarian law, and what makes the situation worse, is that in many of these attacks, you see a growing number of civilian casualties.

During Operation Protective Edge the mayors of the southern cities called on human rights organizations and the NIF to condemn the Hamas terror: “We, heads of Israeli local councils that are under missile attack call… on the New Israel Fund, headed by Brian Lurie, to prevent any partnership of organizations supported by the fund with blood libels accusing the IDF of alleged war crimes, and to condemn the lies that have been spread over the past days against IDF combat soldiers…

One can complain it is not nice to challenge donors directly. One can complain that it is wrong to challenge donors on their gifts to the New Israel Fund.  The reality is that these donors to New Israel Fund – which include senior American Jewish leaders – are harming Israel and the IDF.

We cannot be silent in the face of these facts. Donors – including the President of UJA-Federation Alisa Doctoroff, Karen R. Adler, Joan & Irwin Jacobs, and the Jewish Communal Fund – should stop funding the New Israel Fund and stand with Israel.

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