Misnomer: New Israel Fund Worries About Israel’s Democracy

The reality is that Israel’s healthy democracy continues to thwart the efforts of subversive groups like the New Israel Fund

By Tsvi Sadan | | Topics: New Israel Fund, Benjamin Netanyahu, Elections
New Israel Fund office in Jerusalem
Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90

The New Israel Fund, established in 1979, was the brain child of an American administration that didn’t like the fact that Israel’s political right headed by Menachem Begin had, just two years earlier, won the elections and for the first time taken control of the Jewish state’s government. 

The NIF is a classic subversive front disguised as a Jewish non-profit organization working for a more just and pluralistic society. And it nearly succeeded in transforming Israel into a wholly democratic (read: non-Jewish) state. For decades, the group was funded primarily by the Ford Foundation, which the NIF website discloses “provided over $300 million to Israel’s progressive civil society.”

Over the years, the NIF gained more backers among sympathetic European nations and American Jewish philanthropists, and successfully recruited influential Israelis to give it the appearance of being a genuine Jewish endeavor independent of its American puppeteers. But that ultimately couldn’t hide the fact that this is an American NGO operating in Israel in a subversive manner by pumping money into fringe human rights NGOs in order to advance its progressive agenda.

While the NIF insists it is a “Zionist” organization, its support of groups that call for Israel to cease being a “Jewish” state suggests otherwise. For instance, as reported by NGO Monitor, between 2006-2008, the NIF provided grants worth $450,000 to Mada al-Carmel, an organization that demands Israel no longer call itself a “Jewish” state, and that it open the gates to millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees,” thus demographically drowning the Jews of Israel.

That the NIF is well-connected in Israel’s halls of power is sufficiently documented. For the sake of space, I’ll provide one example, which is a September 17, 2007 photo showing then President of the Israel Supreme Court, Justice Dorit Beinisch, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the NIF’s operating arm in Israel, Shatil, along with members of the organization. 

Beinisch is seen hobnobbing with Susan Berresford, Ford Foundation president from 1996-2007; David Chiel, Ford Foundation Deputy Vice President from 2007-2011; former New Israel Fund Director Aaron Back; former NIF CEO Eliezer Yaari; former NIF Vice President Neta Ziv; and former NIF Chief Executive Officer Larry Garber.

All of this is to provide a backdrop to and article written by current-NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch and published in the daily newspaper Ha’aretz the day after Israel’s recent election. Now, remember, Sokatch heads and organization that wants for Israel something that the vast majority of Israelis reject. And yet, he has the audacity to suggest that it is the reelection of Benjamin Netanyahu that threatens to “lead Israel away from democracy.”

Whatever Sokatch’s ideology, one thing is certain, and that is that the very notion that a clear voting majority’s choice of right-wing government is somehow bringing about the end of democracy is a misnomer that defies logic.

In reality, what truly horrifies Sokatch is what a clear majority of Israelis stand for, and their demonstrated ability to democratically impose their will. It is this very success of democracy that continues to thwart the NIF in realizing its vision of dividing Israeli society to the point of crippling dysfunction, and thereby forcing it into the arms of the international community, which in turn will condition its aid on ending the “colonialist” Zionist project.

As such, it is the NIF’s vision for Israel that is decidedly undemocratic, as is Sokatch’s call for “Israel’s true friends, including the leaders of the American Jewish community” to do whatever necessary to reverse the outcome of Israel’s recent election. 

As it turns out, true democracy is the last thing on Sokatch’s mind, since it is the very thing denying the efforts of “Israel’s true friends” to bring about an end of the “Jewish” state.

PHOTO: Daniel Sokatch standing outside the New Israel Fund office in Jerusalem.

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