IAM editor's notes:
1. Large number of anti-Israel organizations receive funding from 'New Israel Fund' and were founded and are run by anti-Israel Israeli academics.
2. Im Tirzu calls to bring Zionism back to the center. It is not extreme right-wing organization. However, we think if it tried, it could not receive any NIF funding since it has Zionist agenda.
Published on the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency
Peace Now condemns attacks on New Israel Fund
Published Monday 01/02/2010 (updated) 02/02/2010 14:56
Washington – Ma'an – Israel's Peace Now movement and Americans for Peace Now on Monday condemned attacks on the New Israel Fund, which has come under fire for funding human rights organizations whose reports appeared in South African jurist Richard Goldstone's UN report on Gaza.
In recent days, a right-wing Israeli organization, Im Tirzu, launched a campaign to discredit the fund, its chair, Naomi Chazan, and some of its grantee organizations, including attacks against Chazan in newspaper ads that show the former Knesset Member with a horn on her forehead.
The controversy apparently began after the Hebrew-language daily Maariv ran an article over the weekend accusing the US-based progressive fund of supporting human rights groups whose findings appeared in the final report of Goldstone's fact-finding mission.
Peace Now and Americans for Peace Now said in a joint statement that they "are deeply disturbed by the content of this campaign and shocked by its style, which is reminiscent of dark times in our people's history."
The groups added: "The NIF grantees that are quoted in the UN report on Operation Cast Lead were performing their duty as Israeli human rights organizations by monitoring and reporting on controversial policies of their government and their military. Such human rights organizations are an integral part of any vibrant democracy and as such, they are an integral – and vital – part of Israel's civil society."
Peace Now is Israel's leading peace movement. APN is America's leading Jewish peace organization.
The groups further stated that the fund is an asset to Israel's democracy, including its grantee organizations. "Attempts to silence them should not be tolerated by the Israeli public and by friends of a free and democratic Israel worldwide," the movements said.
"We call on all Israelis and on American friends of Israel to join us in denouncing and rejecting these contemptuous attempts to muzzle Israel's civil society groups, to quell dissenting voices in Israeli society and to demonstrate civility when discussing and debating issues of public policy," the joint statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the pro-Israel group J Street said it was "gravely concerned about escalating threats to the character of Israel's democracy," according to a statement, which condemned the "new attacks on organizations defending its democratic values and on individuals exercising their basic democratic rights."
"Im Tirtzu’s political leanings are clear," J Street added. "This is a pro-settler group, with $100,000 of funding from Christians United For Israel, a conservative Christian Zionist organization run by Pastor John Hagee, who once stated that God sent Hitler to drive Jews to Israel.
J Street called on Im Tirtzu to immediately pull the ads that are part of "this shameful new campaign."
The US lobby group added that the campaign is just the latest example "of a perfect storm brewing" that threatens the core of what it called Israel’s democratic character.
"Pro-Israel Americans should stand up for Israeli democracy, not work to actively undermine it. We call on Americans who care about the character and quality of Israel’s democracy and civil society to join us in calling on Im Tirtzu to cease their despicable campaign," the statement concluded.
Melbourne Jews cancel Chazan visit after NIF blasted
By ABE SELIG , JPOST
NIF chairwoman disinvited after Im Tirtzu charges NGO with responsibility for Goldstone allegations.
Talkbacks (0) In light of allegations contained in a report by the Zionist student organization Im Tirtzu, which accused the New Israel Fund of direct responsibility for the UN’s Goldstone Report on the IDF’s Gaza offensive last winter, The Jerusalem Post has learned that an invitation for NIF chairwoman
Prof. Naomi Chazan to speak at a synagogue and Jewish community center in Melbourne, Australia, this month has been canceled.
According to a former member of the Melbourne Jewish community now living in Israel, Chazan had been invited to speak as part of a United Israel Appeal fund-raiser at Temple Beth Israel and the Beth Weizmann Community Center in Melbourne next weekend, but the allegations raised by the Im Tirtzu report had “sparked an enormous backlash” among community members there and the invitation had been rescinded.
Among the claims contained in the report, Im Tirtzu has alleged that 16 Israeli NGOs that received more than $7 million from the New Israel Fund in 2008-2009 provided 92 percent of the Goldstone document’s allegations criticizing the IDF’s conduct during Operation Cast Lead.
While the NIF and its supporters have criticized Im Tirtzu’s report as “slanderous” and “an attack on freedom of speech in Israel,” it appeared on Tuesday that the uproar the report has generated in Israel had not yet subsided, and might in fact be spreading abroad.
“People were shocked when they learned about [the report],” the Melbourne Jewish community member, who asked to remain unnamed, told the Post. “From what I understand, there was a huge public upheaval with regards to Chazan’s visit after the report was made public.”
The invitation to bring Chazan to Melbourne had been extended by the Union of Progressive Judaism – the Australian equivalent of the Reform Movement – which is one of 51 organizations that belong to the Zionist Council of Victoria.
According to ZCV President Dr. Danny Lamm, news of the report, and the Hebrew copy of it found on Im Tirtzu’s Web site, had generated angry responses throughout the Melbourne Jewish community and the decision was made to withdraw Chazan’s invite.
“The activities of the NIF are anathema to Zionist groups such as ours, and frankly, we’re just not interested in having anything to with it,” Dr. Lamm told the
Post by telephone from Melbourne on Tuesday.
“It’s not new to me, or many of us, that the NIF has supported groups that have damaged Israel and will continue to do damage to Israel, but others were surprised by this,” he added.
Lamm made it clear that the Zionist Council of Victoria represented all branches of Jewish political and religious affiliation, “from Likud to Meretz” and that they would “never bar anybody from the left just as they wouldn’t bar anyone from the right.
“But the sort of stuff the NIF supports is so far removed from the community here,” Lamm added, saying “it was decided that Chazan’s public appearances be canceled.”
The NIF however, responded with disappointment to the decision on Tuesday, and CEO Daniel Sokatch told the Post that it was a reaction to “baseless allegations” and “the worst kind of vicious hate speech... It’s very sad given the warm relationship we have with the [Union of Reform Judaism] in America,” Sokatch said of the decision.
Moreover, Chazan also expressed her disappointment with the decision as well, telling the Post, “I’m very disappointed that the [Union of Progressive Judaism] has decided to bow to extreme and unfounded right-wing accusations... They are capitulating to ideas that are antithetical to the essential world view of their movements.”
New Israel Fund comes out swinging against Im Tirtzu report
By ABE SELIG, JPOST
Zionist student group accuses NIF of direct responsibility for the UN’s Goldstone Report.
Talkbacks (14) A soon-to-be-released report by the Zionist student group Im Tirtzu, which accuses the New Israel Fund of direct responsibility for the UN’s Goldstone Report on the IDF’s Gaza offensive last winter, is “just another in a series of attempts to quash freedom of speech in the human rights and civil rights community in Israel,” the NIF’s CEO Daniel Sokatch told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
According to the Im Tirtzu report, 92 percent of the Goldstone document’s allegations criticizing the IDF’s conduct came from 16 Israeli NGOs that received some $7.8 million from the NIF in 2008-2009 alone.
Im Tirtzu members have begun a protest campaign to coincide with the release of the report, and on Saturday night they staged a mock rally of Hamas members outside the Jerusalem home of NIF chairwoman Naomi Chazan, a former Meretz MK.
Im Tirtzu has also sparked outrage – both in Israel and the US – with a full-page ad it took out in the Post’s Sunday edition that featured a caricature of Chazan with a rhinoceros horn bearing the letters “NIF” tied to her forehead.
“It’s an attack on the fiber of Israeli democracy,” Sokatch said of the report and the accompanying campaign. “And part of an increasing drumbeat of incredibly heavy-handed tactics being used by authorities and others to silence human rights and civil rights organizations in Israel.”
He pointed to the interrogation by police in early January of Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman, who is also director of the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), as a recent example of such tactics.
Hoffman was questioned by police after taking part in an all-female prayer session at the Western Wall in December, and was subsequently fingerprinted before being released to go home.
“A week later, Hagai El-Ad [director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel] was arrested while monitoring a protest in [the east Jerusalem neighborhood of] Sheikh Jarrah,” Sokatch continued. “So first it was IRAC, then it was ACRI and now they’re going after the NIF.
“The kinds of societies and countries that try to intimidate and quash freedom of speech are not the kinds of countries we want to emulate or that I think Israelis want to emulate,” he said. “And while we’re quite cognizant of the fact that people who don’t have Israel’s best interests in mind could use the material provided by human rights and civil rights organizations to damage Israel, the democratic identity of Israel and the values we stand for are far more important than what our enemies might do with these reports.”
NIF supporters also began to speak out about the Im Tirtzu report on Monday, taking their fight online, where a slew of blogs and social media sites became outlets for their anger over what many have labeled a “smear campaign” against the NIF and Chazan.
Some of the most heated responses to the report – which was leaked last week to Ma’ariv and published in that newspaper’s weekend edition – were found on a Facebook group started on Monday called “Im Tirtzu is a Fascist Movement.” The group had more than 200 members by Sunday evening, hours after its inception.
“Im Tirtzu is a group that through its fight against human rights groups, intellectuals and artists, has established itself as a fascist movement that is strangling public discourse through empty slogans,” the group’s description read.
Members’ comments reflected similar sentiments, with some calling to “Oust Im Tirtzu from Tel Aviv University!” and others labeling the movement “racist.” Members posted links to a report from the Walla! Hebrew-language news site – which belongs to Haaretz – that revealed one of Im Tirtzu’s donors to be the Christians United For Israel group, which is led by Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas.
“An investigation by Walla! found that some of the funding for Im Tirtzu itself comes from parties who are not regarded with fondness or agreement by the Jewish public,” the article read.
“Donors to the movement include the Christian American lobby CUFI – Christians United for Israel, headed by evangelist preacher John Hagee. The organization’s Web site specifies the sum it gave Im Tirtzu – $100,000.”
Other vocal outlets on Monday included the English-language blog “Coteret,” where contributor Didi Remez also posted the Pastor Hagee story, under the headline, “The anti-Semite who finances Zionist self-righteousness,” along with other pieces decrying the Im Tirtzu report as “incitement” against left-wing organizations in Israel.
The American Jewish blogosphere was also alive with comment and criticism on Monday, with well-known writers such as J.J. Goldberg, editorial director of The Forward, Richard Silverstein and Michael Plitnick, director of education and policy for the Jewish Voice for Peace, chiming in on the Im Tirtzu report and coming to the NIF’s defense.
“I do not have a problem with anyone, whether Right or Left, expressing their views on the issues,” Silverstein wrote on his blog “Tikun Olam.”
“It is good to criticize Goldstone or New Israel Fund if you feel they’ve got things wrong. But it is dead wrong to call your opponent ‘evil’ or use Der Sturmer tactics to turn your opponent into a subhuman,” he continued, referring to the full-page caricature of Chazan.
Im Tirtzu members called such responses “hollow attempts to change the subject,” and accused the NIF and its supporters of “hiding behind freedom of speech to attack the IDF and its soldiers.”
“Human rights also apply on the other side of Gaza, like in Sderot for example,” a spokesman from the group told the Post. “But you won’t find these groups there. They’re not interested.
“Our goal is to defend the IDF, and not get into ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’ politics. We’re not trying to undermine the government and we’re certainly not taking money from European countries to do so,” the Im Tirtzu spokesman continued. “We simply want the public to know who the NIF is, and trying to change the subject away from that is not going to work.”