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NGO Monitor Analysis (Vol. 2 No. 12) 15 August 2004

NIF - Some Improvements, but Funding of Anti-Israel NGOs Continues

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Founded in 1979, the New Israel Fund claims to fight for civil and human rights, to promote religious tolerance and pluralism, and to close the social and economic gaps in Israeli society. NIF has granted over $120 million to more than 700 organizations in Israel. In 2003, the Ford Foundation announced a $20 million peace and social justice fund in partnership with NIF. However, as previous NGO Monitor analyses have noted, some of NIF's funding goes to highly politicized NGOs that are active in the anti-Israel demonization campaign at the UN and elsewhere. These political NGOs systematically exploit the rhetoric of civil society, democracy and human rights to isolate and delegitimate Israel and Israeli policies.

In reviewing NIF policy since the previous report (October 2003), there is little evidence of significant change. According to its website, NIF continues provides funding for Adalah, I'lam, Mossawa, Hamoked, and the Arab Association for Human Rights - all of which have a clear record of anti-Israeli propaganda.

  1. Adalah defines itself an "independent human rights organization…and … non-partisan legal center …to protect human rights in general, and the rights of the Arab minority (in Israel) in particular", this NGO is very active in international political advocacy. For example, in a July 22, 2004 press release, Adalah claimed that Israeli actions have "been executed on an extensive scale, and is therefore considered a war crime under international law," while failing to mention the context behind Israeli counter-terror operations. The organization was also prominent in drafting many of the accusations of Israeli 'apartheid' and 'institutional racism' for the NGO Declaration that was issued in parallel to the World Conference against Racism in Durban in September 2001. Nevertheless, NIF continues to provide funding for this blatantly anti-Israel NGO.
  2. I'lam is another highly visible political NGO funded by the NIF, and a leader of the demonization campaign against Israel. I'lam is a major source of media distortions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through its criticism of the professionalism of Israeli journalism and the promotion of one-sided Palestinian narratives. The dominance of I'lam's political objectives and use of standard Palestinian rhetoric are demonstrated in its December 2000 report "The Israeli Media and the Intifada" which states: "the war is taking place on the territories of the party, who is completely under siege and possesses mere rocks and rifles, whereas, the other party possesses the largest military arsenal in the Middle East." Ironically, I'lam condemns the Israeli media for taking what I'lam sees as a one-sided approach to reporting on the conflict.
  3. Mossawa, also funded by NIF, was founded in 1997, "to promote equality for Arab/Palestinians within the borders of Israel." Officially, Mossawa claims to focus on changing "the social and political status of Arab/Palestinians in Israel in an attempt to gain minority recognition and rights, without sacrificing their national and cultural rights as Palestinians." In reality, Mossawa's main focus is political, and designed to delegitimize Israel on the basis of blanket charges of "racism" and similar pejoratives, as highlighted in a tendentious June 2004 report entitled "Racism in Israel." Similar to I' lam, the Mossawa report criticized the media and legal system in Israel claiming that "The legal system expands its use of consideration and criticism of the freedom of speech, while it talked about inciting for racism against the Arab citizens." The report also condemns Israeli political leaders for "inciting and racist expressions against the Arab citizens." Arab hostility towards Israel and involvement in terror is ignored by this NIF-supported group.
  4. HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual also has a highly politicized anti-Israel agenda, including indifference to Israeli civil and human rights, and empathy for Palestinian terrorists in its distorted and unbalanced reports. NIF funding for this NGO continues.
  5. The Arab Association of Human Rights, with the aid of NIF funding, produces a regular weekly review of the Arab press, often presenting a distorted and superficial perspective. As this activity clearly demonstrates, HRA's goal is not to implement universal human rights principles, but rather to further its own political agenda.

    However, based on the information on NIF's website, in the past year, this organization has stopped direct assistance for some Israeli Arab NGOs that were active in the Durban conference and other demonization activities. For example, Ittijah which also backed the campaign of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) against USAID's anti-terrorism clause is no longer listed as a recipient of NIF funding.

    Another politicized NGO that no longer appears on the NIF grant list is Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I) an organization that has consistently abused human rights in pursuit of its political agenda. PHR-I's website continues to list NIF as a funding source, apparently indicating an arrangement whereby NIF serves as a conduit for third-party support.

    In summary, while it appears that NIF has responded to some of the NGOs who have misused funding to pursue an anti-Israel agenda by removing their donations, NIF still continues to fund many others. A full-scale professional review of the New Israel Fund's support for political NGOs is long overdue.

    Elisheva Krausz
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