June 18, 2014

Dear Ms. Paiss,

According to the NIF website, the NGO placements for fellows are both “approved” and “individually-selected.” Can you please clarify this?

– Does this mean that NIF pre-approves a list of NGOs, and Fellows select from the list?

– Alternatively, does NIF decide on each Fellow’s placement?

– Can Fellows choose an NGO, with NIF retroactively approving of the placement?

These questions are in reference to statements made by an NIF/Shatil Social Justice Fellow during a newscast on Social TV:

“We open this edition with a few words on the kidnapping of three Israeli Yeshiva students. Denying freedom to children is a terrible act, as is involving children in armed conflict. There is such a broad consensus on this that Israel and 190 other countries have signed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite some calls by Israelis to seek UN assistance in releasing the students, we suggest Israel also look inward at its own treatment of Palestinian minors in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.  For example, in 2013 alone, 350 minors from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan were arrested.  To these families, whose children are often taken from their beds at night, with no explanation, the experience is similar.  Israel is creating the conditions for a terrible reality and cannot wash its hands fully of the consequences.  No matter how you look at it, there is no justification for kidnapping children and we hope for their speedy and safe return to their grieving, sleepless families.”

….[After the segment on Breaking the Silence’s 10th anniversary event]: “The events of the last few days have shown us that unfortunately this public action by Breaking the Silence will probably not be their last.”

Does NIF agree with the sentiments expressed by the Fellow regarding the kidnappings?

Are these sentiments a reflection of NIF values?

Please provide your response by Friday, June 20, at 12pm Israel time.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Naftali Balanson


June 19, 2014

Dear Mr. Balanson:

A description of the Social Justice Fellowship program is on our website, here: http://www.nif.org/what-we-do/fellowships?id=1137.  We have a list of NIF-affiliated NGOs that are appropriate in terms of the work experience and infrastructure for internship they can offer a Fellow, and we work with the Fellows to match placements to their interests.

As we have told you many times, we are not in the business of scripting or restricting the opinions of our grantees, allies or Fellows, whether we agree with them or not.  The young people, in their early twenties for the most part, who receive our Fellowships are passionately dedicated to a free, democratic and just society in Israel, and have a wide range of opinions about how to accomplish that and about specific issues.  We do not endorse nor condemn their opinions, which are personal and not representative of NIF policy.

We profoundly disagree with NGO Monitor about the right to freedom of speech and conscience, and will never join you in attacking those whose opinions may differ from ours, from the mainstream, or from Israeli government policy.

If you use this statement, I do expect it to be run in its entirety.

Naomi Paiss
Vice President, Public Affairs
New Israel Fund