The Facts about NIF and Divestment
A number of New Israel Fund’s (NIF) factual claims regarding the activities of the NGOs it funds are not at all consistent with the evidence. For example, contrary to NIF’s latest press release (May 28, 2010) in response to NGO Monitor’s research, the facts plainly show that NIF funding goes to groups that are active in BDS campaigns and to NGO projects devoted to divestment.
Alluding to the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) and its “Who Profits” divestment website, NIF claims, “an organization that provides a list of companies profiting from their business dealings in the occupied territories, and which itself does not call for divestment, is illuminating the economic effects of the occupation, and is within our guidelines” (emphasis added).
The problem is: CWP does call for divestment. And boycotts and sanctions. This NGO is a key player.
According to CWP’s newsletter, “CWP has decided in its General Assembly in November 2009 to support the Palestinian call for BDS and we see ourselves as part of this international movement.”
Even before the formal endorsement, CWP played a leadership role in advancing BDS campaigns. On May 14, 2009 a group of 19 NGOs, headed by CWP, sent a letter to the Council on Ethics of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, petitioning the Fund to divest from Israeli corporations that allegedly “provide specifically designed equipment for the surveillance and repression of Palestinian population through restrictions of movement and collective punishments….” The NGO petition was successful, and in September 2009, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced its decision “to exclude the Israeli company Elbit Systems Ltd. from the Government Pension Fund – Global.”
Additionally, in advance of “Global BDS Day” (March 30, 2010), CWP recommended various pro-divestment tactics, specifying corporations that should be targeted. CWP also supported the divestment attempts in UC-Berkeley and UC-San Diego, and a representative from the group spoke at a divestment rally in Brussels.
The “Who Profits” divestment website is a central element of CWP’s BDS activism: “CWP’s online database…[is] a leading source of information about corporate involvement in the occupation and a key asset to the global movement of economic activism and BDS.” CWP told its supporters that “You can search the WhoProfits website to find ideas for action on [Global BDS Day].”
NIF provided CWP with $285,509 between 2006 and 2008, and tax deductible donations (in the US, UK, and Switzerland) for the “Who Profits” project can be submitted via NIF. While NIF now admits support for CWP, in an April 15, 2010, NIF’s Twitter message, an NIF employee stated that the 2008 support for CWP was “a Ford grant.” (NIF’s 2008 Financial Statement lists a disbursement of $93,457) However, in correspondence with NGO Monitor, the Ford Foundation denied providing funds for CWP. And Coalition of Women for Peace is not listed among the Ford-Israel grantees in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010.
NGO Monitor welcomes a serious debate on principles and the red lines between criticism and delegtimization. But to conduct this debate, NIF should get the facts straight.