NIF jumps on, then off, B'Tselem arson bandwagon

The New Israel Fund was quick to blame the government and 'ultranationalists' after the arson that wasn't.

Gil Ronen,

NIF's CEO, Daniel Sokatch
NIF's CEO, Daniel Sokatch
Hadas Parush, Flash 90

The highly controversial New Israel Fund was quick to point at the government and "ultranationalists" as being responsible for what it believed was an arson attack on the offices of their grantee, B'Tselem.

According to the Israellycool blog, a Facebook post by the NIF went up for 40 minutes before being pulled back down, when it turned out that the police investigation pointed to an electrical malfunction rather than arson.

The text, which Israellycool managed to copy, addressed potential donors and accused "ultranationalist groups" of "creating a climate where terrible things can happen":

The offices of B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights group, were burned down in Jerusalem tonight. One person, who was not a B’Tselem staff member, was evacuated from another floor in the building with light injuries from smoke inhalation. Police are still investigating, but arson seems to be the likely cause.

We’ve been in close touch with B’Tselem’s leadership. True to their character, they have repeatedly told us that they will not allow this incident to deter them from their work exposing the realities of the occupation.

[…]

As you and I know, it’s been getting harder and harder to be a champion for human rights in Israel. Ultranationalist groups who claim to “monitor” NGOs or to “defend Zionism” are creating a climate where terrible things can happen. Government officials at the highest levels have not simply refused to condemn this incitement, they have joined the fray.

The post was signed by Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ripped into far-left and Arab MKs, and activists from NGOs like Peace Now, who accused him and his government of being responsible for the fire. 

Speaking at a Likud party faction meeting Monday afternoon, Netanyahu quipped: "According to all the evidence there was an electrical short-circuit, but it could be they will blame me for a short-circuit as well; I wouldn't be surprised if that happened."




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