In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Hotam Forum Director Rabbi Amital Bareli addresses the aggressive campaign his organization is waging against New Israel Fund operations within the ranks of religious Zionism.
"The important point we want to bring to the public's attention is the need to develop control mechanisms to filter messages of entities and agendas introduced to the national religious public. The NIF works not only in the national arena as in BDS and prosecuting IDF soldiers, but also in the arena of harming the Jewish identity of the State, with the common aim of both of them being to turn the country into a state of all its citizens and not a Jewish state."
"As part of this strategy," says Rabbi Bareli, "the Fund operates and finances bodies it sees as partners to its agenda that are part of religious Zionism." He said the need to remove the Fund's cloak stems from the understanding that the religious Zionist public has been identified by the fund as a target against which it acts through a struggle against the rabbis, against the Mechina in Eli, the 'religioization' campaign and more, with a goal to act from the inside.
"The Fund's former Director Rachel Liel marked their target and explicitly stated the goal is not only campaigns against the religious public, but a change in consciousness," says Rabbi Bareli, mentioning the Shacharit program as a Fund flagship program whose goal is to bring additional audiences to identify with the Fund's goals, while within the program there is a special unit whose purpose is to change the consciousness of the national religious public.
In Rabbi Bareli's opinion, focus on the religious public stems from understanding that public is capable of changing the face of the State. "It's not just an internal pat on the back. It's an understanding that this is a values-based public that's competent to lead the country on both the national and Jewish levels, and these two things are anathema to the Fund." For this reason, he said, they found it necessary to expose the matter and show the national public the whole picture.
Rabbi Bareli emphasized that the "donations" to religious Zionist organizations "is only the tip of the iceberg. In the end, we're talking about very broad cooperation," he says, stressing, "This isn't just about funding, but about strategic connections of action plans promoted jointly, the most tangible expression being the money issue. Everyone understands the NIF painstakingly chooses where to put the money. They aren't stupid and they choose who can promote their agenda. Money doesn't grow on trees, and the fact that they've been willing to invest huge amounts of money in awareness-raising organizations for years has to light up a few warning signals. This was the goal of our explanatory activity, which was based on an orderly report and very methodical research."
Hotam video explaining NIF operations within religious Zionism (Hebrew):
Regarding reactions he and his organization received following the campaign, Rabbi Bareli says it was presented in two stages: The first stage is when people watched the explanatory video who didn't know the facts and data; they were surprised and the subject was difficult for them. But in the second stage, the more people were exposed to the data, the more they understood it was not another video intended merely to provoke discussion. The call not to marry according to the law of Moses and Israel with a ring and witnesses is an actual example of one of the calls made by Fund heads and is not invented. "When people are exposed to these statements, it infuriates them. Those who are connected to the national religious public have a set of values and find it difficult to accept such statements from within the national religious public.
To those branding him and his organization extremist or haredi in an attempt to damage his credibility, Rabbi Bareli recommends anyone unfamiliar with the facts to check them out for themselves. "Beyond that, intelligent people have the ability to see things as they are, and when they're confronted with the information and examine it on the basis of straight and clear criteria, most of them open their eyes."
Rabbi Bareli notes the entire process is divided into two stages. The first stage, about three weeks ago, exposed the Fund's war against religious Zionist organizations such as the Torah core groups, and the second part focused on the Fund's activities within religious Zionism. Work on data collection was long and complex until finally the puzzle was assembled and presented to the general public.