New Israel Fund Does Not Belong in the Jewish Community
If there were any doubts where the George Soros-sponsored New Israel Fund stood on Jewish lives, they were eviscerated in a Federal District Court in Manhattan on February 19. Ten American-Jewish families brought suit against the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority for inciting violence during the Second Intifada that maimed or killed their loved ones.
An all African-American jury agreed with Nitsana Darshan Leitner, the brilliant and heroic lawyer who represented the families and who argued that the Palestinian organizations had caused the terrorism that resulted in injury and death. The jury decided that Jewish blood is not cheap, and awarded the plaintiffs $655.5 million.
What was hailed as an important measure of justice and closure throughout Jewish communities long accustomed to seeing Palestinian terrorists shed Jewish blood with impunity was marred by the New Israel Fund’s support for the defendants.
Michael Sfard, a human rights attorney from Israel, testified as an expert witness for the PLO. Mr. Sfard has represented a number of organizations funded by the New Israel Fund.
As attorney Darshan-Leitner so well put it, “In a state of conflict, you can’t give both sides equal rights. Sometimes it comes to a situation of either them or us. If he comes to defend them, he certainly hurts us.”
Prior to the suit against the Palestinian organizations, the NIF was known for its contribution to the now discredited Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of “war crimes” during its 2009 attempt to defend its citizens from the rocket attacks fired from Gaza against Israel’s southern cities.
As we have graphically seen in the aftermath of both of Israel’s Gaza wars, 2009 and 2014, it was the terror organization Hamas that used human shields and ensconced its fighters in civilian centers.
Despite this, because of Israel’s attempts to avoid civilian casualties, the number of actual civilian casualties was proportionately low.
This was not good enough for the NIF, which perverts the language of human rights to defend terrorists. Rest assured that no NIF-sponsored organization has gone after Hamas for its attempts to burrow in tunnels like rodents and kidnap Israeli children from schools and nurseries. And we all know, none of them will.
Some years ago, I received an email solicitation from Daniel Sokatch, chief executive officer of the NIF. Sokatach wanted a financial contribution to help NIF save Israel from the ultra-orthodox and the settlers.
I immediately wondered who would save Israel and the Jewish people from Daniel Sokatch.
Sokatch also included a petition to pressure the Israeli government to call off its investigation of the NIF’s involvement with NGOs that helped fashion the lies that created the notorious Goldstone Report.
But contrary to what one might think, it was neither the ultra-orthodox nor settlers that were vociferously calling for an investigation into NIF’s distasteful activities; it was the centrist Kadima party.
As one-time CEO of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, Sokatch’s politics are well known in this community.
After fourteen months, however, he left. Whether it was because of more challenging opportunities is not known, but what appeared too many to have sealed his fate was an incident that occurred at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
The festival’s director, Peter Stein, a progressive, Israel-basher with a fiery agenda, presented the piece of agitprop posing as documentary Rachel, a paean to Rachel Corrie, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) militant who gave her life to protect homes that were the source of tunnels bringing in arms, supplies, and fighters mobilized to kill Jews.
Stein added insult to injury by inviting Rachel Corrie’s mother, Cindy, to speak at the festival. Cindy Corrie has devoted her life to beatifying her naïve daughter and bashing Israel.
Local Zionists demanded the Jewish federation, which financially supports the festival, do something about the outrage. In contrast, Sokatch, who was also on the festival’s board, defended all of it.
The NIF here also supports the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), which along with SJP hosted a lecture by Dalit Baum,who required that attendees sign a pledge to boycott Israeli goods and were given a glossy brochure to send money to CWP through NIF’s Washington Office. Baum says that violence against Israel is a natural reaction to Israeli oppression of Arabs.
Where there is NIF money there is Israel bashing and Jew hatred.
Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.
The episode in the Manhattan courtroom should forever remind of us of what NIF is.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for Truth & Accountability.