26 thoughts on “New Israel Fund Will Refuse Funding Palestinian NGOs Rejecting Jewish ‘Sovereignty’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. This isn’t going to make anybody happy..

    Im Tirzu and NGO Monitor will say (rightly) that the NIF can still fund projects that want to change the character of the Jewish state. The left will say (rightly) that they have caved into the Im Tirzu crowd.

    This is what McCarthyism does.

  2. Richard, it would have been civil to have waited a few hours for me to respond to you, since you contacted me in the middle of the night and I answered you by email at 6:00 AM eastern time.

    This post has it wrong. And there will be a longer story next week that will make that clear.

    Ron is an excellent reporter who got something wrong. Daniel made clear what we all know — these funding guidelines express what has always been the funding philosophy of the New Israel Fund. He did not say we would not fund a group contributing to a conversation about a constitution — any kind of constitution. He specifically said, more than once, that we will not defund any group, Palestinian or otherwise, that disagrees with us on a matter of principle. We are a pro-democracy organization. We specifically codified and clarified our priinciples and guidelines to ensure that it would be understood that we do not demand lockstep agreement — but we do ask for mutual respect for principles and values.

    We will not fund groups that actively work to undermine our principles, which most certainly does not include Adalah.
    Daniel went out of his way to praise Adalah, which won a noteworthy victory in the High Court just two days ago. They are exactly the kind of grantee and partner we want, he said.

    As I made clear to Richard in earlier communications, espousing Israel as the Jewish homeland, and as the sovereign expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people, has always been a principle of the New Israel Fund. So has our insistence on absolute equality for all Israel’s citizens and communities. We do support Palestinian national self-determination within a Palestinian state — that’s the two-state solution and hardly controversial.

    So, yet again, more heat than light about an organization that for 32 years has taken on the causes and supported the organizations that have created Israel’s civil society, and that are now the last line of defense against ultra-nationalism and extremism. Rather than jumping to conclusions and attacking NIF for things we have not done, it would be more useful to work with us in a broad-based coalition for a better Israel. We will not all agree on the theoretical parameters of Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state. But we can certainly listen to each other and facilitate the space in which to have the conversations….which NIF has been doing for many, many years.

    1. Naomi, I think NIF is being a bit too cagey in all these denials and clarifications. The JTA is reporting the same as this blog — that all organizations have to essentially take the loyalty oath:


      If NIF starts being an “enforcer” for the state of Israel — and it is now clear that it has tasked itself with this role — I have no choice, in fact an obligation, to support the newly blacklisted organizations. And that means as a matter of finances I will stop sending checks to NIF.

      1. This is just silly.

        There is no blacklist. There is no loyalty oath. We will continue to fund the organizations we have always funded conditional on their continuing to do the excellent work they do. I’m sure our adversaries on the right would roll with laughter at the idea that we are an enforcer for the state of Israel. All we have done is spell out, clearly and transparently, our values, principles and funding standards.

        And people wonder why the left is fragmented and difficult to unite….

        We’ve spoken to Ron at JTA and clarified the confusion.

        And frankly, I think that in places like this we deserve the benefit of the doubt before assuming the worst.

    2. “Espousing Israel as the Jewish homeland and as a free sovereign expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people, has always been a principle of the New Israel Fund. So has our insistance on absolute equality for all Israel’s citizen and communities”

      That’s completely Chinese to me.

      Israel: Jewish homeland, sovereign, self-determination & equality for all Israel’s citizens.

      To me, those two statements are simply not compatible, but as I don’t live in Israel, there might be some linguistic subtleties that I’ve missed!

      To me, this is the definition of a ‘moderate’ or maybe more precisely a ‘hypocrite’ ethnocracy.

      Thank’s God, that I’m not a Palestinian, citizen of Israel, in this imbroglio

    3. The problem lies entirely on NIF’s side, not mine. The article specifically and entirely erroneously uses the example of Adalah’s Democratic Constitution as an example of an NGO that NIF would no longer fund. It makes the bogus claim that the Constitution advocates a binational state, which it does not. Have you or Sokatch or Ron read the Constitution? If not, how can any of you characterize it the way you did? So in this article Sokatch specifically said (unless Ron mischaracterized him) that you would not fund a group which took on the project Adalah did & here you’re saying Adalah is kosher. Which is it? Well, clearly YOU are saying Adalah is OK. But the article disagrees. And that’s precisely the slippery slope down which this new formulation of the guidelines takes you.

      Further, according to what you’re saying here there are virtually no groups you’re currently funding that you wouldn’t continue funding. Can you give us an example of a specific group you’re funding or even not currently funding that you wouldn’t support? And if not, why change the guidelines? I simply don’t understand what you’ve done & why.

      Might I also remind you that YOU have called Israel a “Jewish state” above, which is precisely the language used by Im Tirzu. Again, you’re buying into the language of your opponents. Israel can be a Jewish AND Palestinian state, but it can’t be a Jewish state alone. And again, for the pro Israelists among us, I’m not talking about a binational state. I’m talking about a unitary state in which every citizen is treated the same and all ethnic groups have guaranteed rights.

    4. WOW … Naomi Paiss (in your statement) who exactly are “Israel’s citizens and communities” today. do you accept that there are NOW in israel israeli citizens who are not jews (but muslims)? also what is this MumboJumbo about two state solution? Is israel planning to mass transfer all of its present non-jewish citizens to a palestinian state that may never come into being? I hope you agree that the state of Palestine if it ever came into being will not be an expanded Jordan to include a border-undefined WestBank/Yesha that may be gobbled up by israel in the next two or three decades. when we talk of the palestinian state perhaps we should all call it the “not-Jordan Palestine” or the “WestBank Palestine,” i.e.that it is not Jordan in disguise. Most true zionists i encountered adamantly refuse this naming … i wonder why? perhaps you could tell me.

      MaomiPaiss’ statement follows:
      “As I made clear to Richard in earlier communications, espousing Israel as the Jewish homeland, and as the sovereign expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people, has always been a principle of the New Israel Fund. So has our insistence on absolute equality for all Israel’s citizens and communities. We do support Palestinian national self-determination within a Palestinian state — that’s the two-state solution and hardly controversial.”

  3. Darn, I just gave them money the other day for the very first time. I’ve been getting brochures in the mail and they sounded good. They don’t sound quite so good anymore.

  4. First of all, Richard, as I said in my original post, Ron made a mistake. Daniel emphatically did not say we would not fund a group that contributed to what are generally called the “Future Vision” papers, which were a series of theoretical papers about the constitution, the character of Israel, how it might evolve into something different (bi-national, unitary — it doesn’t matter, these were all theoretical papers.) We defended the Future Vision process when it occurred, taking a lot of criticism for it, because we thought it was important that Arab voices be included in debates from which they are generally excluded. We didn’t agree with a lot of the conclusions and recommendations in those papers — but no-one has done more to insist that when these conversations are held, everyone should participate.

    Daniel was not with NIF four years ago when those papers were written, which may have contributed to the mild conclusion in Ron’s brief. What he did say, and what he did mean, is also in the article clear as day. We fund groups with whom we have philosophical disagreements as long as they are furthering our objectives — civil and human rights, social justice, religious pluralism. Adalah does that admirably and we have stood by them, and the other Palestinian-Israeli groups we fund, for the serious and important work they do. We will continue to do so. We fund liberal Orthodox groups who bring pluralistic views to that community, and I suspect we may not agree with them about issues having to do with women’s rights, or LBGT rights, and so on…we will fund their work as well as long as they are not actively working to undermine NIF principles.

    I am, personally, as chilonit as it gets, but I find this, on the eve of the chag, somewhat unseemly. If I didn’t make it clear earlier, I’m the NIF communications director in Washington DC, and it would seem that my “sin” is not being awake in the middle of the night to read my email before your original post, Richard, despite my offer to be available to you on matters concerning NIF. We’re not debating the nature of the state of Israel, you think one thing and we — a collection of thinkers who nonetheless are in the social change business, not the abstract-thought business — think other things, organizationally-speaking. That’s not the issue.

    The issue is whether we are changing our funding philosophy to exclude those with whom we disagree, even on matters of serious principle. We are not. We will continue to work with organizations out of mutual respect for the serious issues that arise in Israel, if they meet our technical criteria, and apply for funding to do work we think we should be done. We will never discuss our individual grant decisions publicly, no responsible funder does that. (And would you want us to tell you precisely why we turned someone down? Maybe they screwed up what they were supposed to do with the last grant. Maybe we don’t have the funding for that specific area anymore. And so on. Betraying that information utterly compromises the grantmaking process.)

    We will apply these funding guidelines going forward. They are clear, they are transparent and they will be on our website on Monday, after the holiday. We have communicated these things to all our grantees, listened to them during the process of formulating them, and will continue to regard those relationships as partnerships.

    We are not here to abide by your ideas of proper nomenclature. We invite people to look at our record, understand that we are now the stand-in for everything the ultra-nationalist right hates and would eradicate, and join us in a broad-based movement to fix the many things that are wrong in Israel. Out of love for Israel, and a belief in liberal democratic values. It’s as simple as that.

    1. So you’re saying that Kampeas erred when he characterized the Democratic Constitution as a document proposing a binational state which NIF couldn’t fund? If so, I wish you’d made that clearer fr the get go. You said Ron erred but didn’t say the error was so I was left to guess. I’d like Sokatch to clarify this very explicitly in the next article which will come out.

      Naomi, I did send you an e mail at 8:30PM your time about the article when I first read it. It wasn’t the middle of the night unless you go to sleep early. But I write my blog posts in close proximity to reading the articles which I critique & don’t usually wait 12 hours before publishing since that would give another blogger a chance to scoop me. I based my post on what was in the article. I also conceded in my post that JTA might’ve gotten its characterization of Sokatch’s views wrong. When the next article comes out I’ll be happy to write about it & correct any misimpressions that might have arisen fr. the first one.

      We are not here to abide by your ideas of proper nomenclature.

      In that case, just continue right along using terms like “Jewish state” and “Jewish sovereignty” and you’ll be received with the suspicion those terms deserve by Israeli Palestinians whose rights have been & will be harmed by such notions.

  5. RE: Can anyone genuinely tell me what Israel “as a sovereign vehicle for self-determination for the Jewish people” means? – R.S.

    Definition of SOVEREIGN (adjective)
    a : superlative in quality : excellent
    b : of the most exalted kind : supreme
    c : having generalized curative powers
    d : of an unqualified nature : unmitigated
    e : having undisputed ascendancy : paramount
    a : possessed of supreme power

    b : unlimited in extent : absolute
    c : enjoying autonomy : independent
    : relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a sovereign

    DEFINITION SOURCE – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereign?show=1&t=1284770360

  6. though I dont receive any feedback here, i will comment on NIF for the sake of other readers.

    The correct term “enforcer” of the state, is a contribution, imho, to the discussions on NIF. It has been and will continue to serve that role.
    I commented in many previous posts that this blog is engaged in free PR for an organization that has no backbone, plays the victim while it victimizes continuously, activitsts , workers and people who misplaced their trust in the slogans.
    Clearly, an organization that has such a big LEG in the government, cannot be anything but an enforcer and a honey pot for naive followers who seek proper outlet and actualization of their values.
    this organization should be dismantled, even if it will make Im tirzu happy for a while.

      1. Richard, I was hoping for a factual response, not sure whether I am out of the board on the left, I am speaking about good old standards, regardless of political affiliation. Why do you consider Makhoul or Zoabi less “out of the board” ? coz they are not Jewish ?

        The NIF has already made those decisions when it dumped Shamai Leibowitz for instancde and many other Jewish-Israeli (or former Israeli) activists, and I think your integrity is called here as well. If I were Arab Balad MK would that only make me visible for you ? so are you also an enforcer ?
        the methods your blog follows is the same as the NIF, namely, marking the “kosher” boundaries for JEWISH activists, those outside those boundaries are “out of the board” as you say, and are under the “HEREM” regime.
        The problem with that method, as you already know, is that eventually everyone is policing and enforcing…

        my lesson from other cases, such as Ariel Sharon, if we take the obvious, is that betrayal is indivisible. Sharon treated some israelis as “outside the board” (while his right wing followers cheered) eventually they ended up receiving the same treatment, and nobody really cared. Corruption, dishonesty in management, luring dupes and dumping them, is always expanding, always in need of new “outcasts”.
        that’s the NIF’s way (not always, there was a shift when Armoni replaced that American woman, whose name I forgot just now as director in Israel.)

        You can call me left to center or an alien, that doesnt change the fact that as I wrote here, your position is changing, but you still want to defend yourself, and its always cozy to have wide margins, while pushing others to the ditches.

        Shana tova
        but I get the gist, and will stay out of here, so as not to make life easier for you as I serve the role of illegitimate “margins”.
        I suppose Rotter crowd are mainstream now, because with them you are willing to play ball.

        1. just a brief ps.
          In my book, it is no more acceptable to mark the boundaries of Jewish Israeli politics from the USA. this is very Ashkenazi and very outdated, in my book. I live here in Israel, I am in the game, you can make suggestions but not enforce boundaries.

          Secondly, I was an NIF civil rights fellow, I worked for them, a few years, I did fundraising in the USA for the NIF, I speak from experience, and you ?

          1. Ah, so you from the extreme left express precisely the same position as the extreme Israeli right, which denies the validity of what non-Israelis have to say about Israeli politics. I could care less what you think, really. There are many, many Israelis who disagree with you, thank God. But you’re welcome to holding the same views as your far right Israeli colleagues. It doesn’t do you have honor though to share the same views.

            You think because you were an NIF fellow that you know more about the NIF than I? I’ll challenge my knowledge of NIF with yours any day. With views such as yours I can’t see how you’d raise a dime for NIF, unless they sent you to do fundraising at Al Awda events.

        2. marking the “kosher” boundaries for JEWISH activists

          You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. I hardly ever edit or discipline anyone commenting here w. an extreme left pt of view. There are 100 comments with a rightist perspective here to every one w. an extreme left perspective. I’m not marking the boundaries of what is kosher. I’m merely observing that yr view are among the most extreme left of any commenter here. And I find them bizarre. You’re welcome to them of course. But I can’t take them seriously, nor, I would imagine, can many others than those who are yr close friends & political allies.

          I DO do a lot of policing & enforcing here, but those are right-wing commenters to whom I do this.

          Frankly, I think you’re a provocateur. Yr comments hardly make any sense unless you’re quite conspiratorial.

  7. May I add that the issue here is neither nomenclature nor differences of opinion between Zionists and non- or anti-Zionists (although both are important).. The issue is why NIF is now changing its guidelines and what the effect of that will be for activists in Israel.
    If the NIF responds to threats and defamation against specific positions held by some of its grantees by saying ‘it’s not me’ or ‘But I do support the Jewish state; But I’m against BDS; But I’m against prosecution of Israelis abroad’ – then it is betraying the principles it professes to represent.
    The correct response should be ‘irrespective of my own positions, Israelis must be allowed full freedom of expression, even of unpopular views. We will support our grantees against intimidation and we will fight for their right to act and speak’. The more organisations retreat behind the ‘red lines’ of ‘legitimate criticism’ as defined by the Reut Institute, the more they are betraying those who stand outside those line, who insist on their opinions or who have no choice but to be a minority.
    Those who are betrayed will be in prison one day, because NIF and other established NGOs failed to stand up for their right to be what they are.
    Once again, you don’t have to support boycott, UJ or a binational state to support the right of Israelis to support those ideas and tactics. In the US or the UK the price of such positions is nasty words from those who disagree. In Israel – the price is rapidly becoming criminalisation, state violence, interrogations, imprisonment. Don’t collaborate with that.

  8. So Richard is joining forces with Im Tirtzu to defund NIF? They’re not so taken by the guidelines:

    “We see the Fund’s statement as proof of the justice of our struggle,” Im Tirtzu co-founder Erez Tadmor said. “However, no public relations trick will hide the fact that in his statement, the Fund’s spokesman said that it would continue funding groups like Adalah and Mossawa that act against Israel’s Jewish identity. We call upon the Fund to stop playing games and immediately change its policy of support for anti-Zionist organizations.”


    1. Not quite. I want NIF to become truly progressive. I don’t want to destroy NIF which is what the Shovalniks want. I’ve withdrawn my support until they clarify their guidelines. I would like them to acknowledge that Israel is a homeland for its Jewish AND Palestinian communities, which it does not yet concede.

  9. Reading the “new” NIF guide line, the articles about it and Ms. Naomi Paissand on this site, it’s difficult to understand how some got it so wrong.
    It is a typical double talk and deception of the NIF: “Grantees must not actively oppose Israel’s Jewish character”, note the word “actively” and “character”, its farther explained in an NIF fashion of deception, “

    “If we had an organization that made part of its project, part of its mission an effort to really, genuinely organize on behalf of creating a constitution that denied Israel as a sovereign vehicle for self-determination for the Jewish people, a Jewish homeland, if that became the focus of one of our organizations, we would not support that organization,” note, “it that become the focus” another words, if it’s not more than 49% of the money we give you it’s ok?. Why Mr. Sokatch do not state simply, – if you deny the self-determination for the Jewish people, and/or Jewish homeland, no money period! Mr. Sokatch quoted as saying “Pressed on the new language, Sokatch said it would prohibit proposals for a binational constitution of the kind that two NIF grantees submitted several years ago”. Why Mr. Sokatch do not state simply, – no binational constitution of any kind, period!
    And to finish in a typical NIF fraudulent way, “Sokatch added, however, that NIF would not deny funds to grantees that had philosophical disagreements. The difference, he suggested, was in a grantee’s activism, not in the views of its directors”, another words, do it a little quieter now, a little more confusing, we (NIF) share the same view.

    Some are rejoicing prematurely, In the leading weeks to the high holidays the NIF HQ received many phone calls from liberal temples rabbis, complaining that the communities concern about the NIF action in Israel and they do not want the money raised in the holiday, to go to the NIF grantees that they reading in Israeli papers and they are concern about the allegations of Im Tirtzu. In response the NIF post on their web a talking points to their rabbis, literally, how to con their communities out of their money, its cause even greater uproar.
    So now Mr. Sokaktch face a situation that on one hand he cannot afford to lose its big donors, the radical anti Zionism cabal, and on the other hand, some in the conservative and reform movements, for the first time, questioning the NIF. So the master double+ talker, Mr. Sokatch, come up with a pathetic release on Sep 16th and 3 clarifications since, hoping to relieve some pressure. Did not work (as I read here, from the anti zionists either). The new NIF reality in the feature is that substantially amount of the money and energy will go to combat the growing anger in Israel, yesterday is gone.
    Today, the NIF is the greatest danger to Zionism, 96% of Israelis Jews oppose the NIF and growing numbers see the NIF as a greater threat then Israel’s neighbors. The NIF did not change its radical post Zionism views AT ALL, just the tactic.
    The impotency of NIF release and clarifications is the fact that with all of Mr. Sokatch bravado, the organization is in a retreat to a point that they ask there Israel’s operative to do the dirty PR work, something that was a no no before, there are few but some dissenting voices within the NIF for the first time. Bottom line, the NIF must be attack 24/7 and relentlessly expose their evils.
    I assume that to many readers here, this comment may not be palatable, however take a note; there is match to improve in Israel but we love our Israel and will give our life to secure her, we will not except any “New Israel”, we are awaken now.
    Shana tova.

    1. I flat out don’t agree with you & you are a right-wing troll. YOu’re really attempting to present yrself as a leftist. But you have a big problem in that you’re trying to pretend to be on the left but simply don’t have the lingo down well enough. Thus you betray yr real views.

      NIF the “greatest danger to Zionism?” What are you smokin’? The NIF is “radical post ZIonist?” Again, those drugs you’re takin’ must be pretty powerful stuff. How ’bout sharin’? (Just kiddin’)

      You are so damn lame & pathetic. Go peddle your hate & nonsense elsewhere. The more stupidity you puke here the more I’ll support NIF, capiche?

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