J.J. Goldberg

The Israel Project to N.Y. Times: Expose Anti-Israel NGOs, Too — Like the New Israel Fund

By J.J. Goldberg

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A little before midnight on Monday, July 5, the New York Times posted on its website its lengthy, deeply reported investigative piece on U.S. tax-exempt donations that go to fund settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the right-wing American charities that channel those donations, including some that seemed in the Times piece to flirt with or outright violate IRS rules.

At 7:55 a.m. Eastern time, an action alert was e-mailed out by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi of The Israel Project, the Washington-based non-profit that helps clarify Israel’s dilemmas to the world media, supposedly without taking sides in Israel’s internal politics. She complained that if the Times wants “to do a story on groups that use tax status to do work in Israel, they should show BOTH sides.” And she offered a list of “just SOME of the Anti-Israel groups that use the same tax status” but “were not mentioned in the NYT piece.” In a place of honor at the bottom of the list: the New Israel Fund.

I don’t recall Laszlo complaining when Maariv gave front page coverage to Im Tirtzu’s sliming of the New Israel Fund and other “anti-Israel” NGOs that they should have included Irving Moskowitz or the friends of Ateret Cohanim in order to give both sides.

In her memo Laszlo urged her network to contact “the expert on this topic,” Gerald Steinberg of the Israel-based NGO Monitor.

And sure enough, Gerald Steinberg put out a release at 10:28 a.m., reproducing Laszlo’s list of Anti-Israel NGOs but moving the New Israel Fund from the bottom of the list to a prominent place at the top.

Here’s Laszlo’s memo, followed by Steinberg’s release:

did you see NYT page 1, top of fold, 2 full pages inside? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/world/middleeast/06settle.html?_r=1&hp (her formatting mistake, not mine - jjg)

As a close contact wrote to me about it this 4,900 word piece:

1. It is clearly geared to encourage Administration pressure on Israel and stricter application of IRS regulations and is timed during Obama-Netanyahu visit.

2.Its limited reference to pro-Palestinian tax exempt organization is lip-service. No mention of those Jewish/Israeli organizations who reap tax exemptions to attack Israel. We’ll need NGO Monitor’s response.

No one is saying that facts should not be shown by reporters. But if the story is groups that have tax exempt status that play on core Middle East issues, below are just SOME of the Anti-Israel groups that use the same tax status. However, they were not mentioned in the NYT piece:

• ICAHD-US
• Friends of Sabeel
• Middle East Children’s Alliance
• AJ Muste (gives to ISM)
• Open Society Institute
• Deir Yassin Remembered
• Grassroots.org
• Advocacy Project
• Rachel Corrie Foundation
• Birthright Unplugged
• WESPAC (also gives to Adalah NY)
• Groundspring.org (gives to Electronic Intifada)
• Center for Constitutional Rights
• Friends of Peace and Justice in the Middle East
• Vanguard Foundation (passthrough org)
• Palestinian Right to Return Coalition
• Jewish Voices for Peace
• Ford Foundation (funds many anti-Israel NGOs)
• New Israel Fund (funds many anti-Israel NGOs)

BTW - THE expert on this topic is Gerald Steinberg - contact steinberg@ngo-monitor.org

Bottom line – if they want to do a story on groups that use tax status to do work in Israel, they should show BOTH sides. No one is asking for special US tax status for pro-Israel educational or humanitarian groups. They should have the same fair treatment as others. Inserted below that message in Mizrahi’s e-mail message was the full text of the New York Times piece, in case any of her contacts doesn’t get the Times and might not be able to click a hyperlink.

Here’s Steinberg’s press release:

July 6, 2010

Half the News That’s Fit to Print

New York Times article ignores funding for anti-Israel groups

New York Times article: “Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank”

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor commented: “The New York Times motto in this instance is ‘half the news that’s fit to print.’ There are as least as many organizations that use US tax-exempt status to demonize and wage political war against Israel. In addition, European governments provide tens of millions of dollars annually, and without transparency, to opposition groups in Israel, many of which are behind the Goldstone Report. All these factors should have been part of the Times investigation, and this report should not have been restricted to reflect a narrow and tendentious political position.”

Some of the relevant foundations and NGOs transferring funds to radical groups in Israel or with 501(c)(3) status are:

Ford Foundation
New Israel Fund
Open Society Institute

ICAHD-US
Friends of Sabeel
Middle East Children’s Alliance
AJ Muste
Deir Yassin Remembered
Grassroots.org
Advocacy Project
Rachel Corrie Foundation
Birthright Unplugged
WESPAC
Groundspring.org
Center for Constitutional Rights
Palestinian Right to Return Coalition
Jewish Voice for Peace


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