J.J. Goldberg

Rightists Target New Israel Fund Over Grantees' Goldstone Testimony

By J.J. Goldberg

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A right-wing Israeli activist group is waging a multi-pronged public campaign to discredit the New Israel Fund (NIF), which supports human-rights groups in Israel.

The activist group, Im Tirtzu (“If you will it” — from Theodor Herzl’s epigram “If you will it, it is no dream”), made the Friday (January 29) front page of Maariv, Israel’s second-largest daily. In a three-page article in its tabloid weekend supplement, Maariv reports on the group’s new 112-page study claiming that NIF-funded organizations were a major source of damaging information in the Goldstone Report, the United Nations fact-finding mission on last year’s Gaza conflict. The study focuses on footnotes in the Goldstone Report, calculating the percentage of negative testimony on Israel that is sourced to NIF grantees.

According to the Maariv story (Hebrew only), touted with a blaring front-page headline reading “The ‘New Fund’ and the Lie Industry,” Im Tirtzu — which describes itself as “centrist” — is planning an ongoing campaign that will include outdoor signs depicting NIF president Naomi Chazan, a political scientist and former Knesset deputy speaker, with a horn protruding from her forehead (a play on the Hebrew word keren, which means both “horn” and “fund”).

At the end of the lengthy Maariv story, reporter Ben Caspit writes briefly that the study is “the latest example” in a “wave of demonization flooding the media” in Israel against human-rights organizations, which he says “do not work against Israel” and “are an integral part of a democratic state” with “an important role as watchdogs” protecting “universal rights.”

The group kicked off its public campaign Saturday night with a demonstration outside Chazan’s home by protesters reportedly dressed as Hamas members carrying signs “thanking” Chazan and the NIF. An announcement on its Hebrew Web site calls for a demonstration against the New Israel Fund on Monday morning February 1 outside the Herzliya Conference, an annual conference of world leaders on Middle East security.

The English Web site makes no mention at all of the NIF or the Im Tirtzu campaign against it.

In response to the Im Tirtzu study, according to a Maariv follow-up story on Sunday, the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee will hold hearings in the near future on the activities of NIF grantees, following a request by Kadima lawmaker Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy director of the Shin Bet security service, to committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi. The story quotes Hasson saying, “We have to investigate the matter of activity by groups that promote arrest warrants against IDF officers and contribute to activities that support Hamas.”

The Im Tirtzu study combed through the 1,223 footnotes in the Goldstone Report — the United Nations fact-finding mission on last year’s Gaza conflict — and found that 191 footnotes referred to publications or testimony by 16 NIF-funded organizations. In all, the study calculates that 92% of footnotes sourcing negative information to Israeli sources come from the 16 NIF grantees, although the Maariv story noted several errors in the report, including one organization on the Im Tirtzu list that is not an NIF grantee.

In addition to the role of NIF grantees in the Goldstone Report, the study describes several partnership programs that link the NIF with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, including a joint program with the Ministry of Culture and Sport to discourage fan violence at sports events and a program with the Jewish Agency to work with Ethiopian immigrant parents living in absorption centers. According to a summary on the Im Tirtzu Hebrew Web site, “this positive activity by the Fund grants it public legitimization for its activity.”

The report also details the affiliations of Judge Richard Goldstone, the head of the U.N. fact-finding commission, “with organizations that have spoken out in the past against the policies of the state of Israel.” They include Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights and the International Center for Transitional Justice. Not mentioned: Goldstone’s honorary life membership on the board of governors of Hebrew University and his seven-year term, ending in 2004, as president of World ORT.

Im Tirtzu describes itself on its English-language Web site as “a centrist extra-parliamentary movement that strives to strengthen the values of Zionism in Israel and to renew and reinstate Zionist discourse,” and is “committed to leading and advancing a second Zionist revolution on all levels of the Israeli public discourse.” It claims it is “the only movement that engages in public advocacy on behalf of the State of Israel and of Zionism on Israeli campuses,” with a reported two to four key activists and a few dozen supporters on each of nine campuses.

In addition to lectures and workshops, it describes its activities as including on-campus protest demonstrations against on-campus lectures by critics of Israel and several rallies to support Israeli troops at Na’alin, a West Bank village where weekly protests against the security fence have led to the deaths of four Palestinian youths and a British activist from troops’ bullets and tear-gas canisters.

A “Help Us” page on its Web site directs would-be contributors to make earmarked tax-free American charitable donations through the veteran New York-based Central Fund of Israel, whose activity consists mainly of channeling funds to West Bank settlements and settler groups for various purposes, including security.

The English home page includes a link to a Haaretz article last June that profiles the organization at length, quoting critics who describe it “sowing hatred, factionalism and violence,” “terrorizing Arab students and lecturers,” its goal “to frighten and intimidate everyone who thinks differently from or dares to criticize them.”

Motic Sun. Jan 31, 2010

If the New Israel Fund commitment to encouraging Haredi women to object to mehadren buses is anything to judge by, they seem to be a waste of public money.

Norman Mon. Feb 1, 2010

Bill Pearlman, that is a libel against Phillip Weiss. It is up to The Forward whether they want to delete such messages.

You have nothing to say about the issue, so you are insulting people.

This is more serious than simply one reader of the Forward acting like this.

Bill Pearlman is part of a deliberate campaign, organized by the Israeli government, instructed by books like their "Hasbara Handbook," to avoid the issues and attack individuals personally. http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/sept_oct_09_goldberg_makdisi

And that's why these message boards are full of vicious personal attacks.

Norman Mon. Feb 1, 2010

Thanks to J.J. Goldberg for making us aware of this in the English-language media.

Michael Levin Mon. Feb 1, 2010

Also see "Hagee Funds Israeli Nationalist Group Attacking NIF and Hazan," Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, February 1st, 2010

[Excerpt] "Didi Remez [http://coteret.com/2010/02/01/breaking-hagee-and-cufi-fund-anti-nif-campaign-org\anizer/#more-1265 ] brings word today that the Israeli far-right nationalist group Im Tirtzu, which began a scurrilous campaign against Israeli NGO support for the Goldstone Report, receives major funding ($100,000) from Christian Zionist John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Didi translates an article by Danit Gottfried [ http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/3050/1638516 ] (Hebrew) from Walla, the popular Israeli internet news portal:

which notes:

"…An investigation by Walla! found that some of the funding for Im Tirtzu itself comes from parties that are not regarded with fondness or agreement by the Jewish public. Donors to the movement include the Christian American lobby CUFI – Christians United for Israel, headed by evangelist preacher John Hagee. The organization’s website specifies the sum it gave Im Tirtzu — $100,000. Hagee was in the headlines in 2008 during the US presidential campaign, when a recording circulated in which he claimed that “Hitler was fulfilling God’s will, to return the Jews to the land of Israel according to the biblical prophecy.” Right after the radical comment, Republican presidential contender John McCain had to repudiate Hagee’s public support. Additionally, in his book “Who Is a Jew?” Hagee claims that “Hitler was half Jewish, from the descendents of Esau,” and that “the Holocaust happened because the Jews rebelled and denied the real God.” He claimed that “Jewish rebelliousness is the reason for the anti-Semitism and persecution they suffered over the years.” About the economic crisis that hit the US and the world in 2008, Hagee said that “the U.S. Federal Reserve is under the control of a few shareholders, including the Jewish Rothschild family.” He added that “the Rothschild family is part of an extensive economic conspiracy by strong shareholders who reside in Europe.” Hagee is considered a controversial and extreme figure among the Jewish communities in America, after he called the Reform Jews “poisoned” and “spiritually blind.”

Im Tirtzu's tax-deductible donations via Central Fund for Israel pass-through . . . "


Dave Tue. Feb 2, 2010

"comes from parties that are not well regarded with fondness or agreement by the Jewish public"

You forgot to mention any.

Stephane MOT Tue. Feb 2, 2010

I love Israel as much as I love Palestine and the States, but when leaders deliberately fuel mutual hatred, the people has to stand and to voice its disagreement.

The people who are ruling Israel these days cannot even be called "nationalists" because they disgrace the nation and their own citizens.

Israel must not accept as true the choice between its security and its ideals, and cannot afford rejecting the lessons of History any longer


Bert Thu. Feb 4, 2010

I examined the web sites of NIF and Im Tirtzu. What a contrast! NIF is NOT concerned with addressing real issues to help Israel survive its many enemies both gentile and Jewish. NIF has no moral standard such as "Thou shall not bear false witness" and is willing to falsely accuse Israel of mistreating Arabs but ignores abuse of Jews by Arabs and even by the Israeli government. NIF is unconcerned by anti-Semitism, the Iran threat, Hamas, Hezbolla etc. NIF tries to dilute the Jewish population by pushing for more non-Jews into Israel. NIF is racist because it supports Saudi, Jordanian apartheid/anti-Semitism by its revealing silence. The Jewish fifth column has existed since biblical times. In every generation these Jewish anti-Semites came to destroy Judaism and they operate by stealth and deception as double agents who destroy from within. Jewish anti-Semites will always target any Jewish group that seeks to build a genuine Jewish nation within our biblical homeland.

Boris Thu. Feb 4, 2010

Israeli tragedy of Israely paid International slander indictment of war crimes is sneeze for American author may be.Israel`s existance is a question of the same category?

Michael Levin Thu. Feb 4, 2010

Also see: Rabbi Arik Ascherman: "Im Tirtzu Campaign," 2/4/10 [Excerpt] "In light of the smear campaign being run by a group called "Im Tirtzu," it should be clear to all that we are engaged in a struggle for Israeli democracy. That is not an exaggeration. This is also a not to be missed opportunity, because many people are waking up and realizing the just how dangerous the situation has become." / http://www.rhr.org.il/page.php?name=article&id=32&language=en / Rabbi Brant Rosen: "The Sick Slandering of NIF," 2/3/10 http://rabbibrant.com/2010/02/03/the-sick-slandering-of-nif/

tarshisha Thu. Feb 4, 2010

Betzelem and Shovrei shtika - this is real Zionism

Rabbi Tony Jutner Fri. Feb 5, 2010

So whats wrong with NIF providing testimony to Goldstone and the UN? I think it is perfectly appropriate. I applaud NIF for promoting a New Israel based upon universal social justice than Old Israel, based upon territorial acquision and antiquated tribal rites. NIF, dont back down. I personally would love to see the NIF take on the International Solidarity Movement under its belt. This would give ziothugs a heart attack

Yisrael Medad Tue. Feb 9, 2010

Here, read the full report in English.

Yisrael Medad Tue. Feb 9, 2010

The full English language report:



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