Near-Complete Media Blackout on NIF-Judge Scandal
Israel press silences scoop on Judge Ruth Ronen, who made a political decision when she should have recused herself.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/12/2011, 9:09 AM / Last Update: 4/12/2011, 10:03 AM
Arutz Sheva graphic
The Israeli press is enforcing a self-imposed blackout on the case of Judge Ruth Ronen, who made a highly problematic political decision in a case without disclosing a personal conflict of interest connected to the New Israel Fund. Besides Maariv, which published the story on its front page Monday, no Hebrew publication seems to have picked it up.
Haaretz, Ynetnews and JPost all seem to be willfully ignoring the scandalous story. As far as we can tell, the only English-language news source on the Net to tell its readers about it is Arutz Sheva.
The media blackout on the case appears to be a startling indication of the New Israel Fund's influence on the Israeli press, in what is supposedly a democratic country with a free press.
Perhaps even more ominously, Knesset members, too, appear to be less-than-enthusiastic to touch the story. Only MK Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union acted upon it and wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, demanding Ronen's suspension.
Maariv journalist Ben-Dror Yemini revealed that Ronen ruled in favor of a motion by extreme-leftist group Gisha, and ordered the State to reveal an internal document that deals with the supply of food to Gaza, as well as the names of the people who authored it. The document spells out the minimal nutritional level of the residents of Gaza that needs to be maintained - despite the fact that Israel is not responsible for Gazans' level of nutrition. It could presumably be used to tarnish Israel's image abroad.
Ronen should have recused herself from the case from the outset, Yemini explained, because her husband, Ze'ev Bergman, is a member of the board of the New Israel Fund, which supported Gisha directly in the past and continues to support it through Shatil, the NIF's operative arm.
Judge Ronen accepted Gisha's motion based on the Freedom of Information Law even though it specifies that the State does not have to supply information that could "hurt the State's security, its foreign relations and the security of the public."
Critics of the New Israel Fund say it systematically assists Israel's enemies and note that it works in partnership with the Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation was founded by the son of Henry Ford, who was known for his anti-Jewish stances in the 1920s.