The New Israel Fund will hold its annual young leaders fundraising event in New York on November 2nd. Here is how the website describes the goal of the event and NIF in general:
A new generation of voices is speaking up for social justice and equality in Israel! Celebrate these pioneering activists…fighting for a better Israel.
The New Generations Benefit is the premiere annual event for progressive supporters of Israel in their 20s and 30s, raising funds for the New Israel Fund’s work to strengthen Israel’s democracy and promote justice and equality for all members of Israeli society.
Well, at least they paid lip service to all Israeli citizens in that italicized phrase, because they sure didn’t pay lip service or any attention to over 20% of the Israeli population when they determined their honorees. They will be Zvi Benninga–Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, Idit Menashe–SHATIL, Gil Gan-Mor–Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Inna Zysskind and Pavel Kogan–Fiskha Club and Havaya-Life Cycle Ceremonies Religious Pluralism and Marriage Equality, and Noa Sattath–Religious Action Center.
Who’s missing from this list? Israeli Palestinians, that’s who. None will be recognized. Now, does this mean that no Israeli Palestinians are working for social justice in Israel? To read this list it would. But of course that’s a lie.
While NIF does offer funding to a number of Israeli Palestinian NGOs working for social justice and human rights, over the past year it has allowed itself to be buffeted by smears raised by NGO Monitor, that its grantees were anti-Semitic or anti-Israel. All the charges were fabrications and outright lies. But that hasn’t stopped NIF from running for the hills. It reworked its grantee guidelines in order to exclude Israeli Palestinian NGOs who “rejected Jewish sovereignty” (whatever that means). Presumably they weren’t sufficiently in tune with Bibi Netanyahu’s version of Israel as a Jewish state. Presumably, if you were anti-Zionist or supported anything other than a two-state solution, you stood to get your funding cut.
This is the same organization which has severed ties to a number of its Israeli fellows for stepping out of line, one of whom was Shamai Leibowitz, who made the mistake of speaking at a BDS rally in Cambridge. Even though he didn’t identify himself in any way with NIF, he was thrown out of the program. Similar treatment has been afforded others as well.
By the way, I’m not in any way demeaning the stellar social justice work performed by the Israeli NGOs honored at this event. I’m criticizing NIF. If you attend this event, be sure to ask NIF where the Israeli Palestinians are.