NGO Monitor has analyzed New Israel Fund (NIF) 2019 financial reports (latest available), which detail grants to 273 Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and 60 American NGOs. We focus specifically on the approximately 10% of NIF’s funding that is distributed to 32 political advocacy NGOs claiming to promote human rights in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
NIF’s financial reports show:
- NIF’s 2019 expenses were $34.9 million, a nearly 11% increase from 2018. Total revenue was $33.4 million, a 2.2% increase from 2018 ($32.7 million).
- Total authorized grants to all 333 NGOs supported by NIF were $17.4 million in 2019, compared with $15.6 million in 2018 (see Table 1).
In analyzing NIF’s financial documents, NGO Monitor found that:
- The NIF continues to fund a number of NGOs centrally involved in political advocacy activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, as documented by NGO Monitor.
- In 2019, the NIF authorized $3,529,759 million in grants to 32 such groups. This represents a 13% increase in funding for these types of organizations (see Table 2). These funds constitute 10% of the grants authorized by the NIF.
- NIF increased its grants to Breaking the Silence, Human Rights Defenders Fund, +972, Standing Together, and Zazim. It is unclear if these changes in annual grants to individual NGOs reflect a policy change or a pattern of multi-annual grants in which the amounts vary through the cycle.
- Breaking the Silence makes sweeping accusations based on anecdotal, anonymous, and unverifiable accounts of often low-ranked soldiers. These “testimonies” lack context, are politically biased, and erase the complicated reality in the West Bank. In addition, they reflect a distorted interpretation of the conflict in order to advance the political agendas of Breaking the Silence activists, thereby fueling the international campaigns against Israel.
- Human Rights Defenders Fund has funded “legal aid and defense to HRDs who face different forms of legal persecution” including “Israeli and Palestinian HRDs who participate in nonviolent protests against the Israeli occupation in the West-Bank; [and] HRDs fighting for the rights of indigenous Bedouins in the Negev/Naqab desert in Israel.” HRDF Executive Director Alma Biblash has referred to Israel as “racist” and “murderous,” as well as a “temporary Jewish apartheid state.”
- 972 Magazine is a “blog-based magazine” that publishes English-language articles for an international audience. 972’s articles promote a marginal agenda from the fringes of Israeli discourse, thus presenting a distorted sense of the debate in Israel.
- Standing Together, a group founded to lead political activism, has been involved in a number of protests in Israel and the West Bank. The organization also organizes “alternative Memorial Day” commemorations, alongside Combatants for Peace. In April 2018, one of the group’s founders, Ye’ela Ra’anan, advocated for “eliminating the fascist regime in Israel.”
- Zazim leads protests and campaigns alleging Israeli human rights violations.
- In 2019, NIF began funding Zulat, an “activist think tank” founded in 2019 by former Israeli politicians and diplomats – including Zehava Galon, who led the Meretz Party, and Ilan Baruch. The organization aims to create a “complete overhaul of the public and media discourse” around the issues of human rights and civil liberties, “which have been dominated by the right wing for too long.” The basis for this claim and the ostensible need for another organization dealing with human rights and civil liberties are unclear. Zulat does not list funders on its website.1
- NIF did not provide funding to SISO-Save Israel, Stop the Occupation in 2019. Financial documents from previous years show significant amounts from NIF to the NGO in 2016 (year SISO was founded) and 2017, but none in 2018 and 2019 – suggesting that this NGO was a failed experiment. This is confirmed by SISO’s defunct website and social media accounts.
- According to its founders, “SISO unites Jewish progressive forces in the Diaspora with Israeli initiatives for coordinated action and collective impact to end the occupation.” SISO’s first (and only?) executive director was Jessica Montell, currently executive director at HaMoked and formerly executive director at B’Tselem.
- The amounts listed in the annual financial statements comprise “core grants” made directly by the NIF, “donor-advised” grants, and Progressive Jewish Fund Grants. NIF details the division between the “core” and “donor-advised” formats in a separate online report (see Table 3).
Launch of the Progressive Jewish Fund
The Progressive Jewish Fund was launched by NIF in October 2019, as a donor-advised “national progressive Jewish platform from which to make both US and Israel-based grants… to give to organizations – Jewish or non-Jewish – whose values are consistent with NIF’s principles and policies.” In part, this appears to be an attempt by NIF to capture Jewish donors seeking an alternative to mainstream policies of local federations, some of which had refused to transfer donations to radical anti-Israel groups.
Seventy-three NGOs (12 of which are also grantees under the existing NIF donor-advised framework) received funds through NIF’s Progressive Jewish Fund in 2019, including:
- IfNotNow is a US-based fringe group that uses highly polarizing tactics in attacking American Jewish institutions, citing supposed “support for occupation.” IfNotNow has been widely criticized for refusing to engage in dialogue with the Jewish community, indicating that publicity, not influencing the community, is the main goal.
- The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) engages in lobbying, approaching “opinion makers, elected representatives, government officials, American and international funders, and the international community about the critical opportunities and needs of people-to-people efforts.” ALLMEP lists 118 member. While claiming goals of working toward “peace” and “coexistence,” its members include a number of NGOs that promote agendas based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization and completely omit Israeli perspectives.
Table 1: Overview of NIF Finances 2015-2019 (amounts in USD)
Table 2: Multiyear Review of Authorized Grants to Political NGOs (2013 – 2019, USD)
|Breaking the Silence||629,926||510,942||359,219||438,766||104,304||138,882||83,993|
|Combatants for Peace||37,636||25,449||21,180||22,862||20,243||5,000||-|
|Gisha: Legal Center for the Protection of Freedom of Movement||97,790||82,516||37,803||6,687||29,150||44,491||22,771|
|HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual||78,189||104,119||83,375||1,300||37,450||31,400||14,800|
|Haqel: Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights||305||60,590||140,972||78,375||-||-||-|
|Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF)||200,550||116,892||175,984||21,7695||199,000||91,300||75,920|
|Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Democracy||25,000||47,206||68,857||101,196||417,694||61,6000||736,000|
|Kerem Navot (Naboth's Vineyard)||5,000||5,000||12,610||40,902||-||-||-|
|Negev Coexistence Forum||59,766||82,000||73,406||61,672||49,888||69,861||49,339|
|Nine Seven Two: Advancement of Citizen Journalism||313,219||151,540||127,531||17,332||38,117||54,120||31,378|
|Parents' Circle: Bereaved Parents||2,666||13,456||73,406||4,972||16,902||2,807||14,225|
|Physicians for Human Rights - Israel||274,997||317,174||86,894||102,906||91,679||185,262||71,380|
|Rabbis for Human Rights||43,985||37,120||42,775||107,648||296,420||243,464||295,493|
|Reut Sadaka Jewish-Arab Youth Movement||4,050||4,049||11,050||6,844||38,430||27,564||13,691|
|SISO - Save Israel. Stop the Occupation.||-||-||101,242||120,100||-||-||-|
|The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel||45,800||35,550||38,450||36,000||41,643||5,015||1,670|
|Women's Fund for Human Rights (Machsom Watch)||117,171||112,234||129,397||87,077||243,535||69,968||118,788|
|Zazim - Community Action||327,793||190,948||314,022||182,013||-||-||-|
Table 3: Breakdown of 2019 Funding (amounts in USD)
|NGO||2019 Financial Doc||Core funding||Donor Advised|
|Breaking the Silence||629,926||45,000||584,926|
|Combatants for Peace||37,636||-||37,636|
|Gisha: Legal Center for the Protection of Freedom of Movement||97,790||35,000||62,790|
|HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual||78,189||-||78,189|
|Haqel: Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights||305||-||305|
|Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF)||200,550||108,000||92,550|
|Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Democracy||25,000||-||25,000|
|Kerem Navot (Naboth's Vineyard)||5,000||-||5,000|
|Negev Coexistence Forum||59,766||16,000||43,766|
|Nine Seven Two: Advancement of Citizen Journalism||313,219||-||313,219|
|Parents' Circle: Bereaved Parents||2,666||12,000||-|
|Physicians for Human Rights - Israel||274,997||45,000||229,997|
|Rabbis for Human Rights||43,985||-||43,985|
|Reut Sadaka Jewish-Arab Youth Movement||4,050||-||4,050|
|The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel||45,800||30,000||15,800|
|Women's Fund for Human Rights (Machsom Watch)||117,171||25,000||92,171|
|Zazim - Community Action||327,793||100,000||227,793|