A U.S. organization has been receiving money from perhaps unsuspecting Jewish donors to support blatantly anti-Israel groups.
American Jews wishing to donate money to Israeli causes routinely utilize local city Jewish federations as a middleman. Hundreds of millions of dollars per year are sent to Jewish federations across the country with the expectation contributions will be used to aid worthy causes in Israel.
Many U.S. Jewish federations as well as individual Jewish donors give to the New Israel Fund, or NIF, a Washington, D.C.-based foundation dedicated to fostering social change and progressive causes in Israel.
The NIF budget comes from a combination of donors. These include the Ford Foundation, grant organizations such as the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, as well as various Jewish communal federations such as the Jewish Federation in New York, the Durham-Chapel Hill Federation and the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids.
However, while many of the programs run by the NIF are considered laudable in the pro-Israel community, such as work the group does with economically disadvantaged Ethiopian immigrants, the flagship grantees of the NIF are Israeli-Arab nongovernmental organizations that openly and unabashedly dedicate themselves to removing the Jewish character of the state of Israel.
The NIF disperses hundreds of thousands of dollars for the core budgets of such groups as Adalah: The Legal Center for Minority Arab Rights in Israel, Mossawa: The advocacy center for Arab citizens in Israel and I’lam media center for Arab Palestinians in Israel.
Supporting Iran’s nukes
I’lam was founded in the wake of the Palestinian intifada, or terrorist war, initiated in September 2000 after then-PLO Leader Yasser Arafat turned down an Israeli offer of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.
The first director of I’lam was Hanin Zoabi, recently elected as a member of the Israeli Arab Balad Party in the Knesset. Zoabi’s party spawned Azmi Bishara, the Israeli Arab Knesset member who fled Israel after he was threatened with prosecution for allegedly aiding the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Balad officials routinely condemn Israel and at times openly present themselves as representing the state of “Palestine.”
In April, in Zoabi’s maiden interview to the Jerusalem Post as a Knesset member, she declared her open support for Iranian nuclear weapons as a counterbalance to Israel.
Zoabi, in her capacity as the director of I’lam, helped draft and sign the Haifa Declaration, which called for the negation of Israel’s Jewish identity and for a “comprehensive change in Israeli policy, whereby Israel abandons its destructive role towards the peoples of the region. …”
In March, I’lam’s so-called empowerment coordinator, Zaher Boulos, issued a “cry of solidarity with the Palestinian people who hold strong to the establishment of a Palestinian state that is independent with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of the refugees to their homes” at the annual conference of the Forum of Journalists, an I’lam affiliate of which he is also coordinator.
The conference expressed “support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees.”
Also in March, I’lam issued a press release stating Israel cannot “liquidate the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Arab culture and will be the future capital of a Palestinian state, and tomorrow will be the focal point of the Arab and Islamic world and the progressive forces in the world.”
The terminology in I’lam’s media publications resounds with terms such as “massacre” and “ethnic cleansing,” as well as accusations of war crimes and the targeted murder of journalists.
Last year, the NIF-funded organization held a conference in Ramallah with journalists from the Palestinian Authority which “aimed to develop and facilitate working relationships between Palestinians journalists in Israel and in the West Bank, and to discuss the role of the Palestinian media on both sides of the Green Line” as well as “exploring strategies for Palestinian media practitioners in addressing Israeli, European and U.S.-American media.”
I’lam’s official statements are representative of the rhetoric employed by some of the NIF’s grantees.
I’lam posted on its website a statement declaring, “The (Israeli) soldiers are the grandchildren of the Nazis’ victims, the Nazis’ survivors. They have come here to consume food quickly and consume life quickly. This is the true image of Israel.”
The statement was made in the context of accusing Israeli soldiers of a “massacre” against Palestinian civilians.
The connection of I’lam to the PA is reflected by its current staff.
Sanaa Hammoud, the current director of I’lam, was a senior official of the PA’s Negotiations Support Unit in Ramallah and served in Jerusalem as a senior communications adviser for the Palestinian leadership.
Wadea Awawdy, who served on the founding board of directors of I’lam, worked as a correspondent for the official PA publication Al-Ayyam, which routinely prints anti-Israel propaganda.
I’lam’s international relations coordinator, Nasser Victor Rego, has issued numerous statements of support for Hamas, terming the Islamist group “The Palestinian resistance,” while providing a link on his blog to the website of Hamas’ armed wing, the Essedeen Al-Qassam Brigades.
Nasser also has called on the international community to boycott Israel.
Rego would not return calls to comment on the issue.
In addition to receiving funds from the NIF, I’lam is also a grantee of Al-Quds: Capital of Arab Culture, which works under the auspices of both the PA and the Arab League.
Among other charges laid against Israel in materials distributed by I’lam are allegations that the Hebrew media contains, “Encouragement for killing and destruction.”
Other anti-Israel groups
Also supported by the NIF is Adalah, which defines itself as a non-partisan human rights organization. However, its agenda differs significantly from its self-definition.
Jerusalem-based researcher Arlene Kushner, in her study of Adalah published by the Center for Near East Policy Research entitled “Inside Adalah,” finds that “in various venues – including the Durban U.N. conference on racism – Adalah has charged or participating in charging Israel with grave breeches of international humanitarian law, war crimes, willful killing, racism, apartheid [and] ethnic cleansing.”
Adalah takes the position that the Israeli government is a “junta which proves each day that it is the most fascist and racist in history.”
In 2007, Adalah proposed a constitution for Israel in which immigration of Jews would be banned except for “humanitarian reasons.” With its demand for the right of return for so-called Palestinian refugees, Adalah sees Israel’s future as one with an Arab majority, which would create another predominantly Arab-Muslim state.
Another group funded by the NIF is Mossawa. Last month, Mossawa and fellow NIF grantee Coalition of Women for Peace wrote to the Norwegian government and asked “the Norwegian people to join us in our efforts and to stop investing in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.”
Naomi Paiss, director of communications for the NIF, declined to comment for this report.
Sammy Sokol is a writer for the Israel Resource News Agency.
David Bedein is director of the Israel Resource News Agency.