My Stand Against the New Israel Fund

Ronn Torossian,

OpEds Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian
INN:RT

Never did I think I’d see my name on the homepage of the New Israel Fund (NIF) – yet, miracles do occur (they wrote a press release condemning me.) Along those lines, similarly, The Jewish Forward wrote an op-ed criticizing a supposed “smear” campaign against the NIF.

The Forward’s editor, Jane Eisner, who authored the op-ed, omitted the fact that she was a leader of NIF until she resigned to join the newspaper.

I am quite proud to stand up and speak the truth about this organization. The NIF, in its choice of organizations to support, acts against Israel, and the public – and their donors – must be educated about what the NIF does.  The fact that our criticism mentions the President of the UJA-Federation, Alisa Doctoroff, Karen R. Adler of JCRC and the Jewish Communal Fund, and other major donors is fair game.  Jewish leaders have a conflict of interest if they support the the NIF. (Imagine the rightful uproar if Orthodox UJA leader Eric Goldstein were to support Neturei Karta.)

Consensus against NIF comes from the right and left – all across the Pro-Israel political spectrum, it is acknowledged that support for BDS funding, hostility to Israeli soldiers and always painting Israel as the bad guy is simply out of bounds. 

They are wrong – and we are right. We will continue to tell the truth.

The New Israel Fund supports BDS.  On their own website, they note “NIF will thus not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.”  The high-profile SodaStream debacle, which saw actress Scarlett Johansson step down as “global ambassador” of Oxfam centered around this very issue.

Ms. Johansson resigned from Oxfam, noting she has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International because the charity opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, and noted that she and Oxfam “have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

Some more facts which should be shared:

NIF-grantees also often support the Palestinian BDS movement against Israel. The Supporting The Palestinian BDS Call From  Within website  was established by   Israelis who support joining the Palestinian BDS movement.  The site’s home page states, “We, Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, join the Palestinian  call  for  a  BDS  campaign  against  Israel,  inspired  by  the struggle of South Africans against apartheid. We also call on others to do the same.

…“We are deeply concerned about the potentially irreversible damage inflicted on Palestinians by Israel’s brutal occupation, systematic oppression of its Palestinian citizens and denial of the right of return of Palestinian refugees. We have come to the conclusion that these practices will end only when their cost for Israel – its elites in particular – outweighs the benefits”. The site publishes various calls for boycotts against Israel, such as the call for an immediate academic boycott of Israeli universities,  support for the Cairo Declaration that calls for a boycott against Israel, etc.

Among the names of supporters mentioned on the site are activists in NIF-funded organizations, such as: Dr. Ruhama Marton, founder and president of Physicians for Human Rights and cofounder of Public Committee against Torture in Israel; Ohad Shem Tov, founder and editor-in-chief of Social Television; Emily Schaeffer, legal advisor to Yesh Din; and Prof. Rachel Giora of Coalition of Women for Peace.

In addition, in 2009 the Supporting The Palestinian BDS Call From Within website issued a petition supporting Ben Gurion University lecturer Dr. Neve Gordon after he published an essay in the Los Angeles Times calling for a boycott against Israel on the grounds that Israel was an apartheid state: “BOYCOTT! would like to extend its support and appreciation to Dr. Neve Gordon… for publishing his position in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel…As citizens and residents of the State of Israel, we stand with Dr. Neve Gordon in echoing the Palestinian call for boycott, divestments, and sanctions, and in saying NO to the persecution of those who strive for freedom.” 

The signatories to this petition include major activists in NIF-funded organizations, such as Dr. Ruhama Marton, founder and president of Physicians for Human Rights and cofounder of Public Committee against Torture in Israel; Ohad Shem Tov, founder and editor-in-chief of Social Television; Emily Schaeffer, legal advisor to Yesh Din; Emmanuel Farjoun, a Public Committee against Torture in Israel board member; and Dalit Baum - a coordinator of Coalition of Women for Peace’s Who Profits from the Occupation project.

Israeli Committee against House Demolitions was the first Israeli organization to join the BDS movement, and this organization’s website even refers visitors to the Palestinian BDS website. ICAHD appears in the organization database of Shatil, the operational arm of the NIF, and was an NIF grantee in 2003-2006.

The Alternative Information Center, which promoted joining the Palestinian BDS campaign, is another organization that appears on Shatil’s website. Senior members of the center’s board of directors, of such as Dr. Joseph Schwartz and Henriette Dahan-Kalev, also serve in organizations funded by the NIF.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the Zionist leader once asked, “Everybody is wrong and you alone are right? No doubt this question springs by itself to the reader’s lips and mind. It is customary to answer this with apologetic phrases to the effect that I fully respect public opinion, that I bow to it, that I was glad to make concessions….All this is unnecessary, and all this is untrue. You cannot believe in anything in the world, if you admit even once that perhaps your opponents are right, and not you. This is not the way to do things. There is but one truth in the world, and it is all yours. If you are not sure of it, stay at home; but if you are sure, don’t look back, and it will be your way.”

Indeed, those of us who stand against the Jewish extreme liberal left know that we are right.  As Ze’ev Jabotinsky said: “We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmed agree with it or not.”

Today, we hold that the New Israel Fund must be challenged every step of the way. 

And no matter whether  Alisa Doctoroff, Karen R. Adler or the Ford Foundation agree with it or not.

The entire Jewish community must stand up and have their voices heard and stand against the New Israel Fund.




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