Opinion

Why Does The State Department Fund An Anti-Israel Organization With Communist Leadership?

Ronn Torossian CEO, 5W Public Relations

One of the most radical left-wing American Jewish organizations, which actively supports the boycott against Israel, The New Israel Fund (NIF) raises $30 million dollars annually from American Jews. Accordingly, NIF is shunned by both the right and left in Israel – and has drawn harsh public criticism from Israeli government ministers, Knesset members, senior Israel Defense Force officials (such as Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror), and others.

In a recent document NIF circulated to their donors intended to respond to criticism, they highlight the fact that their leadership board includes a former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. What NIF does not mention is that “former Deputy Speaker” is Avraham Burg, who recently joined the Israeli communist party, and has declared that “Zionism is over.”

Just last month, NIF organized a speaking tour for Burg in Palo Alto touting him as a leader of their International Council.

Yet, Burg is as radical as they come – In September 2003 as buses were exploding all over Israel,  he wrote an op-ed entitled “The end of Zionism” in The Guardian, and in French daily Le Monde which justified Palestinian terrorism. To quote:

“Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centers of Israeli escapism. They spill their own blood in our restaurants in order to ruin our appetites, because they have children and parents at home who are hungry and humiliated.”

And as he continues to justify terrorists who kill, in 2015 Burg proclaimed that “Zionism is Over.”

Even the New York Times noted, “he said that Israel should not be a Jewish state, that its law of return granting citizenship to any Jew should be radically altered, that Israeli Arabs were like German Jews during the Second Reich and that the entire society felt eerily like Germany just before the rise of Hitler.” Burg supports a boycott of all products from the settlements, says the law of return is similar to Nazi rule, and says that Israel dismantle the memorial of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem.

Ari Shavit, a writer for the left-wing Israel newspaper Haaretz, said of Burg that his “book is anti-Israel in the deepest sense. It is a book from which loathing of Israeliness emanates.”  Shavit sees the book as “an unempathetic attack on the Israeli experience.”

Yet, the New Israel Fund has “received more than $1 million from the State Department under a program designed to create political change, reform, and activism in the Middle East. The government program, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), has extended more than $600 million in grants to political and social activists and reformers in 18 Middle East countries, mainly with unstable or challenged political environments in need of democratic improvement. “

It also notable that some of the closest advisors to President Obama have been supporters of NIF. David Axelrod is a longtime donor, and Martin Indyk who most recently served Obama as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations from 2013 to 2014 served on the board of the New Israel Fund.

A communist who says that Zionism is over must not receive funding from the State Department.

Similarly, American Jews who fund NIF, including Sally Gottesman, the Leichtag Foundation, Karen R. Adler of The Jewish Communal Fund, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Alisa Doctoroff, President of UJA-Federation, Edith Everett and others must not continue funding an organization whose leadership includes a communist.