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(Emphasis in original)
CWP full response to NIF
Ms. Rachel Liel
Executive Director in Israel
New Israel Fund
via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Monday we have been informed of the NIF decision to stop acting as fiscal sponsor for the Coalition of Women for Peace. We find this decision and particularly its timing not only unfortunate, but rather dangerous for NIF and for the civil society in Israel, particularly the peace and human rights organisations.
NIF has the full right to decide on its grantees according to its own guidelines and considerations. It is important however to underline not only the decision taken in regard to the Coalition of Women for Peace, but also the conduct of NIF in this matter.
For the past two years, CWP staff members readily answered numerous questions posed to us by NIF regarding our projects, campaigns and positions. We have ensured our full cooperation to NIF and extended our assistance in explaining the legitimacy, the legality and the importance of our activities.
Ms. Ella Elkalay notified us to expect a two-month notice, if the decision to exclude CWP from NIF donor-advised organisations list will be made. The possibility of NIF assisting CWP in searching for an alternative fiscal sponsor was also discussed. However, Mr. Yuval Yavneh informed us that a “new decision” of the Board has taken place, by which we are to remove the name of NIF from our website immediately.
This notice came at the same day as NIF response to a “report” by NGO Monitor focusing on the Coalition of Women for Peace and its role in the ‘destruction’ of Israel. It seems particularly unfortunate that the exact timing of cutting off the relations of NIF and CWP has been dictated by NGO Monitor.
This misconduct is dangerous for the democratic and progressive forces in Israel, as it benefits and strengthens the extremist right wing groups acting to delegitimize civil society organisations such as CWP.
The public attitude of NIF in relation to CWP is a rather disgraceful example of following and accepting the right-wing discourse and its strategies. Please consider two examples:
1. NIF Press Release of May 12, 2010, “NGO Monitor attacks New Israel Fund based on information it knew to be wrong”
In this press release, NIF takes the position of accountability vis-à-vis NGO Monitor by accounting for an exchange which took place between NIF Executive Director in Israel and the director of NGO Monitor. Not only does NIF avoid a position of accountability towards CWP in particular and the Israeli civil society in general, the press release does not condemn, criticize or address in any way the vicious attack of NGO Monitor on CWP. Prior to releasing its statement, NIF did not contact CWP to inquire whether other details published in the report of NGO Monitor are false. In light of NIF expectation of solidarity from other civil society organisations, at a time when NIF itself was publicly attacked, the demonstration of this public attitude to CWP rather disappointing.
2. Statement by Robin Margo, head of NIF-Australia to J-Wire, May 19, 2010
The statement by Robin Margo contains numerous false facts, such as the removal of CWP from NIF DA list in the beginning of the year (the last donation via NIF entered our bank account on May 16, 2011). Margo accused CWP of not updating its website, in a manner that justifies a law suit, according to his words. This is outrageous, as CWP updated its website within four days from the date of this request. CWP is still waiting, however, to receive a formal notice from NIF providing the reason for excluding CWP from its donor-advised list. Moreover, Margo told J-Wire that “public allegations that NIF was continuing to fund CWP” made by NGO Monitor are “damaging”. This statement of NIFA is in itself publicly and financially damaging to CWP, as it sends a public message that funding CWP may in itself cause damage to our funders.
The most unfortunate outcome is that the text of Margo’s statement establishes NGO Monitor as NIF’s ally and as members of one community in the “big tent” of legitimate engagement with Israel. This strategic choice of NIF to legitimize NGO Monitor while excluding the Coalition of Women for Peace, is more than dangerous: it is tragic.
At any state, NIF did not see fit to mention that the activities of CWP are legal and legitimate, regardless of their compatibility with NIF guidelines. This is the minimal integrity one could expect from the New Israel Fund, in relation to a leading feminist peace organisation in Israel, that is being publicly attacked for its unconditional support for justice, accountability and international law.
It is our hope that this decision of NIF to exclude a feminist peace organisation has been the last one, in relation to peace and human rights NGOs.
This, however, requires a serious consideration of NIF policies and practices with regard to right-wing forces on the one hand, and the peace and human rights movement on the other
Eilat Maoz, General Coordinator
Inna Michaeli, Development Coordinator
On behalf of the Coalition of Women for Peace