Ford Foundation

Introduction

From 2003-2013, the Ford Foundation granted $40 million to civil society NGOs in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, distributed via the New Israel Fund. In 2013, the Ford Foundation announced that funding to Israeli NGOs would end, citing changing priorities and a need to reevaluate “how best to contribute toward democracy and development in the region.”

Profile

Country/TerritoryUnited States

Activity

Funding

  • In 2018, total income was $25.4 million; total expenses were $659 million.

Ford Foundation/NIF Grantees (2003-2013)

  • The Ford Foundation was among the main funders for extremist NGOs involved in the 2001 UN sponsored Durban conference, which crystallized the strategy of delegitimizing Israel as “an apartheid regime” through international isolation.
  • As a result of the Durban conference, in October 2003, Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Rick Santorum, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, launched a campaign to investigate the Ford Foundation’s funding of anti-Semitic and highly political anti-Israel NGOs. As part of the campaign, twenty members of Congress sent a letter to Ford Foundation President Susan Berresford asking her to “cease funding subversive groups.” In response, Berresford initiated a review in December 2003 and pledged that Ford would act to ensure that funds no longer went to “groups that promote or condone bigotry or violence, or that challenge the very existence of legitimate, sovereign states like Israel.”
  • Following these new guidelines, from 2003-2013, the Ford Foundation managed the Ford Israel Fund which provided $40 million to Israeli civil society NGOs in partnership with the New Israel Fund. These funds came in the form of two $20 million grants; distributed to the NIF in 2003 and 2007.
  • The Ford Israel Fund was shut down in 2013 due to changing organizational priorities and changing leadership among the Ford Foundation board.
  • Ford Israel Fund grantees included Breaking the Silence, Adalah, B’Tselem, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Mossawa Center, HaMoked, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I), and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

Funding to Politicized NGOs

  • The Ford Foundation has also provided grants to a number of highly biased and politicized NGOs active in the Arab-Israel conflict, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), Center for Constitutional Rights, Oxfam, and Christian Aid. (See table below for further funding information.)
  • While Ford Foundation states that it no longer grants funding to Israeli NGOs, Adalah has reported receiving NIS 1,630,263 in 2012-2017 from the Ford Foundation. In correspondence with the Ford Foundation, NGO Monitor was told that Ford has not funded Adalah since 2004.
    • Adalah publishes an online “Discriminatory Laws Database” that claims to collect “text, analyses, and legal action for present and proposed discriminatory laws in Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories].” This deceptive list does not distinguish between laws and legislative proposals and refers to Zionism pejoratively. Furthermore, laws regarding the historic Jewish connection to Israel are labeled as discriminatory, including the use of symbols and the Hebrew calendar.
    • In May 2018, Adalah and other Palestinian and American NGOs sent a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “Investigate Israel’s Use of Lethal Force in Gaza.” The letter accused Israel of using American weapons against Palestinian demonstrators and called to “halt any further assistance to all Israeli military units involved in these shootings.”
    • In 2014, Adalah created the “Adalah Justice Project” (AJP), based in Boston, with the goal of transforming “American perception, policy and practice in Palestine/Israel into a human rights approach that guarantees historical justice and equality for all.” AJP is fiscally sponsored by the Tides Center (which is a Ford Foundation grant recipient).
  • In 2015-2018, Ford Foundation granted $4.5 million to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
    • HRW disproportionately focuses on condemnations of Israel and publications related to Israel often lack credibility. HRW has also been a leader in BDS campaigns, beginning with the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN Durban conference.
    • On November 20, 2018, HRW published the 65-page “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land: Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements” (in partnership with Israeli NGO Kerem Navot), alleging that Airbnb (and Booking.com) “facilitat[e] Israel’s unlawful transfer of its citizens to the settlements.”
    • Omar Shakir, HRW’s Israel and Palestine Director, is a consistent supporter of a one-state framework and advocate for BDS campaigns against Israel. In May 2018, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior decided not to renew his work permit because of his involvement in anti-Israeli campaigns. HRW and Shakir are appealing the Ministry’s decision.
  • In 2015-2019, Ford Foundation granted $6.9 million to Amnesty International.
    • Amnesty disproportionately singles out Israel for condemnation, focusing solely on the conflict with the Palestinians, misrepresenting the complexity of the conflict, and ignoring more severe human rights violations in the region.
    • In violation of its policy of “impartiality,” Amnesty employs numerous anti-Israel activists and BDS campaigners with well-documented histories of radical activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
    • Amnesty regularly campaigns for an arms embargo against Israel, while ignoring the massive flow of offensive weapons and explosives from Iran and Syria into Gaza.
  • In 2015-2017, Ford Foundation granted $1.4 million to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
  • In 2016-2018, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was granted $1 million.
    • CCR is active in lawfare suits against Israel and Israeli officials, promotes anti-Israel BDS campaigns; urges the U.S. government to stop providing military aid to Israel; presents an entirely biased and distorted view of the conflict and utilizes highly politicized rhetoric, accusing Israel of  “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and other such allegations.
    • CCR has endorsed Congresswoman McCollum’s proposed legislation “to prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” The entirety of the proposed bill is premised on factually inaccurate claims from anti-Israel advocacy NGOs, including direct quotes from Defense for Children International -Palestine’s “No Way to Treat a Child” 2016 report and website.
    • In April-May 2018, CCR led a “Justice Delegation” to Israel and the West Bank claiming to provide a “better understand[ing of] the human rights situation in Israel and Palestine.” However, the trip met with Israeli and Palestinian organizations that promote a one-sided Palestinian narrative of the conflict, BDS, lawfare, and antisemitism, and some with alleged ties to terrorism.
      • On May 14, 2018, the Justice Delegation released a statement accusing Israel of “settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing on Palestinian communities through blatantly obtrusive policies” as well as “structural racism and apartheid.
  • In 2015-2019, various branches of Oxfam, including Oxfam America and Oxfam Mexico, received $4.9 million from the Ford Foundation.
    • Oxfam consistently paints a highly misleading picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict, departing from its humanitarian mission focused on poverty. Most Oxfam statements erase all complexity and blame Israel exclusively for the situation, and these distortions and their impacts contribute significantly to the conflict.
    • While Oxfam states that it does not “support a boycott of Israel,” it states that it “oppose[s] trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank because they are illegally built on occupied land, increase poverty among Palestinians, and threaten the chances of a two-state solution.”
  • In 2015, Christian Aid received $150,000 from the Ford Foundation.

2015-2018 Funding to NGOs (amounts based on Ford Foundation’s “Grants Database”)

NGO20192018201720162015
Human Rights Watch (HRW)1,200,000190,0001,400,0001,710,000
Amnesty International450,0004,465,000700,0001,650,000
International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)400,0001,000,000
Christian Aid150,000
Oxfam200,0001,070,0001,300,0002,300,000430,000
Center for Constitutional Rights100,000900,000
Cordaid165,000
Save the Children547,381
Tides Center1,254,5009,350,0004,880,0004,563,1591,975,646
Catholic Relief Services210,000
Front Line – International Foundation for the Protection of Rights Defenders600,000200,000

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