(January 29, 2016 / JNS)
It wasn’t too long ago when Israel had a reliable friend at the United Nations. The United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, helped keep enemies at bay and veto hateful resolutions against the Jewish state. But that might not be the case today, and Israel’s battles have become somewhat more solitary than they once were.
Beginning last November the European Commission—the European Union’s (EU) executive arm—decided that products from the territories obtained as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War can no longer be sold in the 28-country EU as having come from Israel. They must be labeled as being from an “occupied” area.
In late January, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon referred to Jewish towns and cities in Judea and Samaria as “provocative acts” and doubted Israel’s commitment to peace. “As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism,” he said, essentially blaming Israel for the months-long spate of Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings, and shootings of Israeli Jews.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retorted angrily that Ban’s comments “give a tailwind to terrorism.”
The U.N. opposing Israel is not surprising—nor is the usual rancor in the hall of nations in which Israel is routinely vilified and sanctioned, with more resolutions raised and passed than any other issue or nation.
Yet the one blow that is surprising is that the U.S. is joining the bandwagon by issuing an unusually stern criticism of Israel. President Barack Obama is continuing his legacy by suggesting that Israel will not have its friend anymore if it does not do exactly what the president wants.
Contributing to this American aggression is the steady work during the past decade of so-called leftist humanitarian groups—such as the American charity the New Israel Fund (NIF) and its hoard of grantees like Rabbis for Human Rights, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adalah, HaMoked, and others, to name a few. They have paved the way for this very point in time.
NIF has been clamoring against the State of Israel and has established itself as a funder of just about any group that has an axe to grind against Israel. Whether it is Adalah promoting lawfare, B’Tselem promoting Israel as an apartheid state, HaMoked providing flawed and erroneous data toward the damaging and now-debunked Goldstone report, and a host of other nonconstructive, even wounding ventures, NIF has been at the center.
While claiming to be against boycotts of Israel, NIF has provided plenty of fuel for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) fire that has been burning hotter lately. For example, Alon Liel, Israel’s former ambassador to South Africa, is a member of two organizations that receive significant funding by NIF: Ir Amin, which works against Jewish interests in Jerusalem, and B’Tselem.
Liel supports a cultural boycott of Israel and is a co-organizer of the campaign to call on European countries to undermine Israeli sovereignty by “recognizing” the “State of Palestine.” His wife is Rachel Liel, Israel director of the NIF.
NIF’s supporters are a steady stream of American leftist “Jewish leaders” who believe that these methods of shaming Israel and its people is helpful. Philanthropists—including UJA-Federation of New York President Alisa Doctoroff, Jewish Communal Fund President Karen R. Adler, a JCRC of New York board member, David Hochberg, Carole and Saul Zabar; Sally Gottesman, and others have made it so that Obama receives legitimacy from the Jewish community while openly opposing Israel and seeing it delegitimized on an international level.
It matters not that some of these very groups were recently exposed for being part of a scheme to kill Palestinians who sold land to Jews. When “humanitarian” Ezra Nawi was caught on record bragging about his role in the demise of Palestinian land owners and later arrested for it, the fact that he was on the payroll of Rabbis for Human Rights and getting money from Breaking the Silence did not jolt NIF’s supporters. Neither did the actions of Nawi’s partner in crime, a B’Tselem worker named Nasser Nawaj’ah, who was also implicated.
The truth falls on deaf ears and the damage they have done for years is having the impact they so desperately want.
When Zionist Organization of America National President Morton Klein is the only Jewish leader to publicly bare the hypocrisy of the U.N., the U.S. president, and other world leaders who criticize Israel, the NIF seems to have done its job.
When there is no one calling out Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas when he proclaims, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one [Jew] in it,” or calling of those who claim Israel is promoting apartheid, NIF has done its job.
The past several months have been difficult on Israeli citizens, as terrorists run amok stabbing and shooting people at random. Abbas calls these people “heroic,” and Ban Ki-Moon suggests the terrorism is Israel’s fault, while the leftist NGOs and their supporters continue to harangue Israel endlessly. That too is the NIF doing its job.
At the very least, those of us who stand with Israel must continue to insist that the NIF, its funders, and its leaders be considered non-kosher.
George Birnbaum is a former chief of staff to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications, is a political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents. His clients have included former president Bill Clinton.