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April 24, 2015 3:21 pm

American Jews Must Stop Funding Israel Boycotts Via New Israel Fund

avatar by Ronn Torossian, Hank Sheinkopf, and George Birnbaum

BDS supporters. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled last week that the Finance Minister can “impose fines and withhold funding from Israeli NGOs calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel and the power to file lawsuits against those NGOs.” Justice Hanan Meltzer described boycotts as “political terrorism” –  clarifying that the State of Israel has a right to defend itself from them. Saying that BDS is akin to screaming “fire in a crowded theatre,” the Court rightfully declared that there are limits to free speech.

The petitioners in court who sought permission to overturn the law against boycotting Israel were New Israel Fund (NIF) sponsored organizations – including Gush Shalom, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

The Likud – the ruling party of Israel – recently called the NIF an “anti-Zionist organization,” noting they were largely responsible for the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead.

Similarly, Israel’s economy minister, MK Naftali Bennett noted, “Yes, New Israel Fund, I will boycott whoever persecutes Israeli soldiers. I will not apologize for it. Members of the New Israel Fund, listen carefully: Whoever harms, slanders and persecutes Israeli soldiers are not my brothers. The NIF works methodically and consistently to attack our Israeli soldiers, accuse them of war crimes of torturing Palestinians and intentionally attacking women and children. They turn to the UN and to the committees that are most hostile to Israel and try their best to convince them that Israel is a war criminal. I repeat: They say that our soldiers- you, I, your friends and your families, your children and their friends – that we are all war criminals. The New Israel Fund invests large amounts of money through its organizations with one purpose- to harm IDF soldiers who are physically protecting us with their bodies.”

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The New Israel Fund is as radically left as it comes – and they are opposed across the political spectrum in Israel. From the Orthodox Sephardic Shas party, which boycotts NIF, to a military organization, Consensus, that represents some 3,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) which recently said, “The New Israel Fund acts against Israel — against the soldiers of our country. It is supported by foreign governments and organizations so that Israeli soldiers will be weakened.” Knesset Deputy Speaker Yoni Chetboun added that the NIF was bent on “erasing the Jewish identity from the Jewish State.”

Against this backdrop, it is clear that the boycotts of the New Israel Fund are simply anti-Israel.

As the Israeli public, courts, government, and military stand against the New Israel Fund, their web site and annual report still proclaim that NIF will “not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from [West Bank] settlements.”

The Scarlett Johansson-Soda­Stream debacle centered on this exact issue – and the Jewish world at the time applauded Johansson for supporting Israel.

Against this backdrop it is heinous and unacceptable that Jewish organizations fund the New Israel Fund.  It must stop.

The heads of UJA-Federation of New York,  The Jewish Communal Fund, The Jim Joseph Foundation, The Leichtag Foundation, and others must stop funding this organization. The JCRC must not allow the New Israel Fund to march in the upcoming Israel Day Parade.

There is no other way to say it then to say it again and again and again – Supporting The New Israel Fund is standing against the State of Israel.

George Birnbaum is an international political consultant, who formerly served as chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications is aleading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents.  His clients have included former President Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR Agency, and author of “For Immediate Release.”

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