by Ben Caspit
Maariv daily Israeli newspaper, Jan 29 2010
Meet Ron Shuval. He is 29, married plus two, lives in Ramat Hasharon, secular, served in the Armored Corps, works in high-tech. He has a BA in international relations and philosophy, an MA in Jewish thought from Hebrew University. He is also the chairman and founder of Im Tirtzu which defines itself as a “centrist extra-parliamentary movement that strives to strengthen the values of Zionism in Israel and to renew and reinstate Zionist discourse, thinking and ideology in order to secure the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and strengthen Israeli society in the challenges it faces.” A young organization, not big, but active and feisty. That is one side.
What is the other side? One of the largest, most established, most active and well known philanthropic funds in Israel. The New Israel Fund. It is registered in the United States, it fosters and supporters Israeli non-profit organizations and other organizations. Since beginning to work in Israel, it has distributed USD 140 million to various organizations, which is over NIS 0.5 billion. An enormous sum. This is how the fund defines itself on its web site: “The New Israel Fund (NIF) is the leading organization committed to democratic change within Israel. Since 1979, NIF has fought for social justice and equality for all Israelis. We believe that Israel can live up to its founders' vision of a state that ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, without regard to religion, race or gender.
Widely credited with building Israel's progressive civil society from scratch, we have provided more than $200 million to more than 800 cutting-edge organizations since our inception. What's more, through our action arm, SHATIL, we mentor, train and lead Israeli civil society in an ongoing struggle to empower the underprivileged.
We fight inequality, injustice and extremism because we understand that justice is the precondition for a successful democracy - and the only lasting road to peace. [...]”
In the next few days, Im Tirtzu will launch a harsh billboard campaign against the New Israel Fund and against its president, former MK Prof. Naomi Chazan, from the bastions of Meretz and a veteran social activist. “Naomi Chazan-Goldstone,” she will be called, with a large horn coming out of her forehead. The headline: according to a special report that Im Tirtzu will release in the next few days, the New Israel Fund supports a great many of the Israeli organizations that provided the Goldstone commission with the materials that incriminated the IDF. The Goldstone report contains 1,208 footnotes, with 1,377 citations of various sources of information. Im Tirtzu checked all of them and reached an amazing conclusion: nearly half (42%) of the quotes in the Goldstone report from Israeli sources come from organizations that are supported by the New Israel Fund. When each of these negative quotes are isolated, with various allegations against the IDF and its commanders, this figure is even more amazing: 92% of them come from the same organizations. In other words: the New Israel Fund, according to Im Tirtzu, basically pumped up and financed, indirectly, the Goldstone commission and its vicious report. Goldstone maligned, and these organizations provided him with the references. This relates both to advocating the establishment of a UN investigative committee before it was established, providing incriminating material during its work, and praising it and fanning the flames afterwards. All this, as said, with the help of millions of dollars, money that the New Israel Fund gives to these Israeli post-Zionism organizations every year. You could call them, “thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth from thee [Isaiah, 49, 17].
And that’s not all. The Im Tirtzu’s report details other influences of the organizations supported by the New Israel Fund: Adalah, for example, asked the UN to force Israel to stop Operation Cast Lead and accused it of war crimes. Major web sites shared by a number of organizations joined together in PR work and accused the IDF and the State of Israel of war crimes, called for a boycott and sanctions and demanded an international commission of inquiry.
The New Israel Fund’s response: the New Israel Fund is proud of its role in supporting domestic critical organizations in Israel. This is a patriotic role of the first order, because these organizations are important to the continued existence of Israeli democracy, and for shoring its international standing at a time it is under strong attack.