Blogging the New Israel Fund flap
02/03/2010 - 16:11
James Besser

The reaction against attempts by the political right in Israel to portray the New Israel Fund as a  kind of anti-Israel fifth column is intensifying.

If you missed it, the Jewish Week's own Stewart Ain has an account of the controversy surrounding Im Tirtzu's claim that the NIF “is behind 90 percent of the Goldstone war crimes allegations from non-official Israeli sources,” whatever that means.

In the Jewish Week story,  Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman, not exactly a Peace Now guy, called the Im Tirtzu attacks an “an outrageous broadside.” Others speculated just how the group determined that 90 percent of the critical information came from NIF-funded agencies. 

In an interesting blog item, JTA's Ron Kampeas terms the anti-NIF ad that stirred the controversy “grotesque. There's no skimming around its yuck factor.”  Kampeas also takes apart the 90 percent claim and concludes it is “crap.”

Kampeas also has good things to say about the response of Ori Nir, spokesman for Americans for Peace Now. 

APN attacked the attackers, saying that “The NIF grantees that are quoted in the UN report on Operation Cast Lead were performing their duty as Israeli human rights organizations by monitoring and reporting on controversial policies of their government and their military. Such human rights organizations are an integral part of any vibrant democracy and as such, they are an integral - and vital - part of Israel's civil society.”

And today the Reform movement got into the act.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, expressed “alarm at the recent attacks in the Israeli media against the New Israel Fund (NIF). ..In their twisted attribution of blame for the Goldstone Report to the NIF, these attackers are trying to delegitimize the New Israel Fund in much the same way that the Goldstone Report is being used to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world.  It is ironic, to say the least, that those pointing to the danger of the Goldstone Report are using the same tactics of half-truths, hyperbole and sweeping generalizations they criticize in it to delegitimize the New Israel Fund.”

In a sharply worded blog on the issue, Rabbi Brant Rosen, a Reconstructionist rabbi in the Chicago area, wrote this: “Yesterday, I received an email from a congregant that read 'what the hell is going on in Israel?'  I’m asking the very same question.”

I'd quote some from the other side of the debate – but, curiously, not a single defense of Im Tirtzu has come my way. 

 

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