July 25, 2005
For more information, see NGO Monitor’s previous analyses of the New Israel Fund.
Sir, – Gerald Steinberg and his NGO Monitor never miss an opportunity to lambaste the New Israel Fund. In ‘Terror and the divestment campaign’ (July 17) Mr. Steinberg claims that NIF grantees support divestment. Of the 170 organizations mentioned not one receives direct support from NIF, and just one is a donor-advised grantee. While NIF does not share the Arab Association for Human Rights’ (Nazareth-HRA) view regarding divestment, we do believe that the organization represents an important and responsible voice for the human rights of the Arab minority in Israel.
The NGO Monitor’s implicit premise is that any criticism of Israel, particularly regarding its treatment of the Arab minority, invalidates the critic’s legitimacy. This is clear from the blanket declaration that NIF’s long- standing support for human rights, institution-building, humanitarian aid and peace are a ‘facade.’ Since Israel was founded as a democracy embodying Jewish values, we reject the Monitor’s premise and will continue to act on behalf of the long-term interest of Israeli democracy and civil society. This support includes organizations such as the Ayala Center, which is based at Bar-Ilan University, Mr. Steinberg’s home base, and which promotes constructive contacts between the Israeli religious community and Palestinians.
Israelis and Diaspora Jews need to work together to lower the rhetorical temperature and find ways to communicate on key issues.
New Israel Fund
Gerald Steinberg responds:
My analysis of the role of the anti-Israel NGO network in the divestment campaign and terrorism mentioned NIF in passing, and was not part of a nefarious conspiracy. Mr. Garber acknowledges the fact that an NIF ‘donor-advised grantee’ is an active participant in promoting the demonization of Israel. And the contributions that NIF makes in the ‘interest of Israeli democracy and civil society’ do not excuse funding for extremists such as Shamai Leibowitz, or for groups such as HRA that promote conflict through divestment and boycotts. Instead of trying to censure the public debate, NIF would do well to set its own house in order.