The “Zionism” of the New Israel Fund

By Akiva Bigman

The New Israel Fund takes pride in adhering to a vision of the State of Israel as a sovereign expression of the Jewish People’s right to self-determination, and as such it sees itself as an inseparable part of the Zionist project • As such, the Fund tries every year to be included in the annual Israel Day Parade alongside other lovers of the country • There’s only one problem: the NIF goes against everything Zionism stands for • The balance sheet for the prosecution


The New Israel Fund (NIF) often bills itself as a critical friend of Zionism which has its best interests at heart. However, given that the NIF’s true agenda is well-known, and since by definition “Zionism” as it is generally understood does not include this agenda, the Fund’s claim of Zionist fealty is little more than a cynical ploy. As we will demonstrate below, the lion’s share of NIF activity is meant to undermine the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, all the while harming the security of its citizens and its economic stability. With these actions, the NIF shows itself to be not a friend and ally of Israel, even if a critical one, but rather a foreign and hostile entity aimed at undermining the very foundation of its existence.

Zionism = Boycotting Israel?

The NIF declares that “it objects to the Global BDS Movement)” and that it will not support activity encouraging an international boycott of the State of Israel and will not support organizations who do so. But the truth is far different: the NIF is in fact deeply involved in the BDS campaign through direct funding of boycott-supporting organizations, the granting a platform to speakers and films calling for a worlwide boycott and the open admission of heads of NIF-funded organizations. The total NIF support for boycott-supporting organizations came to 10 million dollars between 2015 and 2012.

As NIF spokesperson Naomi Paiss admitted, the NIF will:

not avoid supporting organizations who encourage non-consumption or purchase of products made [in the settlements], or non-use of service provided by companies operating there.

One of the organizations supporting a worldwide boycott is Sheikh Jarrakh Solidarity, which published an online petition in 2010 calling for:

joining the Palestinian boycott of settler products; to boycott companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem and profit from the occupation, to avoid investing in them and from deals with them and buying their products.

This organization, curiously named ‘The Fund For Protecting Democracy Ltd.” in NIF financial reports, continues to be supported generously by the NIF to the tune of $160,436 in 2012.

The ‘Israel Social TV’ network, with $202,980 from the NIF between 2005 and 2012, went even further and launched a special boycott app called ‘BUYCOTT‘, which allows consumers to ‘consume socially’ by scanning product barcodes:

app users can define their consumer preferences such as: supporting certain companies, buying blue and white, boycotting or avoiding buying products made in the settlements…until today there were only a few isolated cases of a successful consumer boycott in the country. Perhaps this app, which allows us to vote with our wallet, will succeed in promoting the values we believe in.

Another activist organization backed by the NIF – $60,000 in 2012 – is the radical ‘+972 Magazine’ which consistently publishes pro-boycott articles as well as pieces following the campaign’s progress. Thus, last June +972 published an article explaining ‘Why Boycotts Against Israel are Fair Game‘, which argued that the boycott is critical to put the horrors of Israeli rule on the international agenda. The mag also published a position paper of the NIF-backed Women’s Coalition for Peace openly promoting boycotting Dead Sea products entitled ‘Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products.’ Perhaps the worst such instance of this is the article of radical activist Hagai Matar ‘Hiding from the Boycott: An Industry of Settlement Deceit’, which includes plenty of practical guidelines for ‘ratting out’ companies based in Judaea and Samaria trying to bypass detection as such, including ‘Soda-Stream’.

972 and Israel Social TV go far in pushing a boycott – but not quite as far as the aforementioned ‘Women’s Coalition for Peace’, funded by the NIF until 2011. This groups started the ‘Who Profits‘ [from the Occupation] project in 2007, whose purpose is to directly promote the boycott of Israeli products, as well as follow the boycott campaign’s progress throughout the world. The site is now one of the most detailed information centers promoting the boycott on the net today.

As part of the project, a number of organizations including the Mossawa Center, Machsom Watch an Israel Social TV – all NIF-funded operations – signed a letter to the Norwegian government demanding it divest itself of its holdings in Elbit Systems because of the latter’s involvement in building the Separation Fence. The Norwegian Government duly complied.

The Coalition’s homepage is also dedicated to promoting the boycott, every so often publishing articles and public appeals to support a boycott. A particularly egregious case was an article justifying the boycott at length, explaining that:

If people of the Humanities and the Sciences are up to their necks in a racist discourse, in the blood of innocents, in injustices not seen in years, do not condemn and do not demand the indictment of an agitating leader, who do not demand he retract his racist words, who accept his words as obvious, and even somewhat agree with them, such people are deserving of all denunciations and all boycotts which the enlightened world can bring upon them.

The article has since been taken down from the Coalition site, but can be read in full here.

The above-mentioned organizations manage to include in their boycott list companies whose connection to settlements and “the occupation” is tenuous at best. Last month, the coalition published an extensive study entitled ‘A Special Kit – The Occupation Economy and Economic Activism‘, which includes a survey of Israeli companies which are rather indirectly connected to areas over the Green Line. These include ‘Teva’ which ‘profits from the occupation’ by being able to sell cheap medicine on the Palestinian market (!); The ‘G4S Israel’ security company which provides security services in Israeli prisons throughout the country, because they also include Palestinian prisoners, and unsurprisingly all global producers of bulldozers such as Caterpillar and Hyundai, because their purchased equipment is used to demolish illegal homes.

Senior NIF Members Support BDS

These activities are not a coincidence or the errant activities of one or another rogue organization. In fact, senior members of NIF organizations are open in their support of boycott campaigns. Thus, Prof. Emmanuel Farjoun of the Public Committee Against Torture, Emily Shafir, legal advisor for ‘Yesh Din’, Dr. Ruhama Marton of ‘Physicians for Human Rights’ and many others signed a petition in favor of BDS in 2009, which stated that:

The global campaign by Palestinian civil society for the boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel…offers the possibility of joining the common effort to achieve a just solution for the Palestinian people.

As part of this support, the signatories called on activists and governments throughout the world to boycott “Israeli products, Israeli companies, Israeli academic and cultural institutions and Israeli sports lists,” make the effort to ensure “local and international companies bear responsibility and face sanctions for profiting from the Israeli occupation,” to strive “to annul free trade agreements [with Israel] and other agreements which grant Israel a privileged position,” and pressure governments around the world to impose “a direct and indirect weapons embargo” on the State of Israel.

So much for not supporting BDS.

Internatinal peace activists holds posters calling to boycott Israel during a protest outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem

Zionism = Attacking the IDF?

As usual, boycott endorsement goes hand in hand with widespread delegitimization of Israel and denouncing of its military activities.

In December 2008, the IDF began Operation Cast Lead with the aim of stopping the incessant rocket fire aimed at Israeli civilians in the south of the country as well as destroy terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. None of this interested the NIF. Not the suffering of the Israeli citizens in the south or the misdeeds of the Hamas government in Gaza. Not even 24 hours had passed since the operation began, and already NIF President Naomi Chazan signed a petition of the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian–Israeli Peace which demanded “demands an immediate cessation of the aggression by the Israeli military forces in Gaza, which has already cost hundreds of lives. This slaughter can only further fuel the conflict…”

This was the signal for an unprecedented attack on the IDF by the NIF and its organizations both during the operation and afterwards. Close to the operation’s end, 11 NIF-funded organizations including Rabbis for Human Rights and B’tselem established a website called ‘GazaHeb’ which accused the IDF of committing war crimes during the operation.

This hate campaign reached a peak when the infamous Goldstone Commission was established. Once they learned of it, the NIF did everything it could to convince the Commission that the IDF was guilty as charged. They toured with the commission to the war-torn areas and provided them with plenty of information meant to convince them of Israel’s guilt. In a study done by Im Tirtzu, it turned out that no less than ninety percent of information damning the IDF came from Israeli sources, taken from the testimony of 16 NIF-backed organizations.

The investment paid off – many of their arguments were adopted by the commission, which in turn was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, an unprecedented intervention by the international community in IDF operations. The degree of NIF-sponsored deception was so great, that Goldstone himself eventually understood that he’d been had, and that the information he was given was false.In a Washington Post article published in 2011, Goldstone backtracked from his report and said that “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document..”

The NIF followed a similar pattern during operation Pillar of Defense last year. Not only did some NIF organizations oppose the operations themselves, they also tried to arrange a special convention of the UN Human Rights Council with the backing of human rights organizations from Syria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.

This struggle also went personal; in order to force Israeli decision makers to pay a personal price and deter them from further military operations, NIF organizations initiated legal proceedings in Europe against IDF senior officers and Israeli government ministers, including Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Avi Dichter, Moshe Yaalon, Dan Halutz and Doron Almog.

Left wings demonstrators protest outside the Israeli President Shimon Peres house  during his meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos  in Jerusalem


Zionism = Funding from Arab states?

When you examine the NIF’s sources of funding, it’s not surprising that the NIF pursues these radical goals. Im Tirtzu revealed in a recent study how a number of NIF-backed organizations including Adala, B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights receive funding from Palestinian and Arab organizations: the Ramallah-based NDC, the Welfare Association, funded by the Islamic Bank, hostile Arab countries and the al-Aqsa association.

These organizations make their funding conditional on the supported organization maintain “activity to follow human rights violations of the ‘Israeli occupation army’, documenting them and engaging in propaganda and legal activity regarding these violations. These funds gave 2 million dollars in 2008-2009, with the Center for Defending the Individual ($450,000) and B’Tselem ($400,000) received the highest sums.

If you will it, the dream will end

This, then, is the “contribution” of the NIF to Zionism and the state of Israel: harm to the state’s economy, damaging its international standing and placing lethal limitations on its ability to defend its citizens. All of this done in the name of founding a utopian Human Rights Kingdom with a Jewish minority.

Zionist indeed.

Translated to English by Avi Woolf.

April 28, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. Hypocrites!! Can they be banned? In Canada there was a church banned from attending the funeral of someone who had been brutally murdered by a member of the church.