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      Knesset Subcommittee will Investigate New Israel Fund

      Subcommittee will look into funding of Israeli NGOs by foreign governments and organizations. Im Tirtzu: cash trail leads to Ford Foundation.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 2/3/2010, 6:53 PM / Last Update: 2/3/2010, 6:41 PM

      The Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee voted Wednesday to appoint a special subcommittee to inquire into the matter of contributions to Israeli NGOs from foreign governments and organizations. The decision comes after  research by the Im Tirtzu movement, which found that the New Israel Fund finances most of the Israeli NGOs which testified against Israel in the Goldstone Committee.

      The nationalist members in the committee voted in favor of Committee Chairman David Rotem's motion for establishing the subcommittee. MKs Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotobeli and Carmel Shama of Likud were joined by Michael Ben Ari (National Union) and Uri Makleb (United Torah Judaism). Shlomo Mula and Yisrael Hasson of Kadima voted against the motion, as did Dov Chenin (Hadash) and Taleb A-Sana (Raam-Taal).

      MK Danny Danon said that “the committee will have to act swiftly in order to remove the strategic threat that the New Israel Fund poses to Israel.”

      MK Zevulun Orlev, who is usually moderate in his choice of words, reacted angrily to claims by left-wing MKs that the committee was an act of persecution, saying: “Where are all the Zionist movements of yore? Where is HaShomer HaTzair? From a movement of settlers, of exalted commanders, you have turned into informers, snitchers.”

      The New Israel Fund's Israel office is headed by former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan.

      Im Tirtzu is jubilant
      The Im Tirtzu movement, which initiated the campaign which led to the inquiry, was jubilant. It said it would now end its advertising and media campaign. “Today is a day of rejoicing for all of the IDF's officers and soldiers who were hounded by the New Israel Fund,” the group stated.

      "We express our support for the dramatic decision by the Constitution Committee to establish a committee that will investigate the New Israel Fund's organizations,” it added. “We proved after a tough David vs. Goliath battle that sometimes David wins, too. In Israel of 2010, it turns out that a small group of students and reservists can successfully remove the mask from a fund with an annual turnover of dozens of millions of dollars, which wound up in the hands that are the living spirit behind the Goldstone report.” 

      Ronen Shoval, Chairman of Im Tirtzu, told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service that further research has revealed that Judge Richard Goldstone was patently unsuited to head the UN investigation against Israel in the first place, because he himself is a member of virulently anti-Israeli organizations.

      "To our great surprise,” Shoval said, “we found that three organizations that Goldstone is a member of are patently anti-Israeli ones.”

      All roads lead to Ford Foundation
      One such organization is the International Center for Transitional Justice, which accuses Israel in its website of grave violations of international law, including 'extrajudicial executions, prolonged administrative detention, torture, forced displacement (often repeated), extensive property confiscation and destruction, movement restrictions, and collective punishment, much of this within the framework of a four-decade-long occupation.'” 
      "To our great surprise, we found that three organizations that Goldstone is a member of are patently anti-Israeli ones.”

      Goldstone has been a member of the ICTJ's Board of Directors since 2004. Shoval added that Goldstone is a signatory on a document issued by ICTJ six months before he was appointed to head the famous UN committee of inquiry, in which the ICTJ expresses “shock at the crimes against civilians” in Operation Cast Lead. The group received $7.5 million from the Ford Foundation in 2006-7. 

      In addition, Shoval charged, Goldstone is a member of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights, which accused Israel of war crimes before the Goldstone Report was issued. It, too, is funded by the Ford Foundation.

      As exposed by Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, Goldstone was also a member of the Board of Directors of a third group, Human Rights Watch as late as July 2008. The organization accused Israel of war crimes well before the Goldstone Commission was appointed. HRW also receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the Ford Foundation.

      Shoval explained that the research shows that Goldstone has been working for organizations funded by the Ford Foundation, as is the New Israel Fund, but this did not prevent him from extensively quoting, in his report,  organizations funded by the same Ford Foundation.