New Israel Fund Issues Tortured Condemnation in Wake of Terror Attack
In a whiplash inducing three paragraphs, Naomi Paiss, Vice President of Public Affairs at the New Israel Fund (NIF) issued a statement in response to the brutal killing of an Israeli-Arab police officer, three American citizens and one citizen of the UK. Several others were injured, many of them seriously.
NIF, known for their highly critical view of the Jewish state, funds dozens of projects and initiatives in Israel, some, like Machshom Watch and Breaking the Silence, have been described as dishonest and harmful to the Jewish state. During the recent Gaza war, the New Israel Fund rushed an emergency grant to fund protests against Israel. More recently NIF joined J Street and the Seattle Jewish Federation in sponsoring a lecture by boycott proponent Peter Beinart at UW Hillel this past October.
The first paragraph of the NIF Press release issued this afternoon expressed the group’s “outrage” at the terror attacks in a Jerusalem house of worship. “We at the New Israel Fund are appalled and outraged by the terrorist attack on the Har Nof synagogue this morning. We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the murdered and refuah shlema to the wounded.“
The until that point laudable NIF declaration quickly changes course, meting out equal culpability between the Israeli victims and their Arab tormentors, blaming the rash of murderous attacks on “the most extreme voices on both sides.” Paiss then calls upon Israel (together with the Palestinian Authority) to “act in moderation, to emphasize respect for the rights of their neighbors, and to abjure incendiary rhetoric and incitement“. The implication being that Israel is equally and egregiously lacking in those areas.
The final paragraph calls on “both sides” to “retreat from religious and nationalist extremism“, placing Israel on the same moral plain as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas with their rash of civilian targeting attacks, honor killings, persecution of sexual minorities, payouts to terrorists and restriction of religious freedom.
The closing sentence of the NIF press release discards any semblance of evenhandedness, calling upon Israel and Israel alone to renew “the values of equality, justice, and democracy“, a remarkable criticism when one considers the neighborhood in which Israel lives.
Paiss draws a moral equivalence between those who murder worshippers in cold blood and a democratic, peace-loving citizenry fighting for its very survival.
Rabbi Ron-Ami Meyers of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seattle was appalled by the NIF press release telling The Mike Report that “Naomi Paiss’ response on behalf of the New Israel Fund is a horribly immoral one. Her words are crafted in a very clever fashion, in a similar fashion to PA spokesmen throughout the years. First, a disarming, unequivocal condemnation, followed quickly by moral confusion. In her statement Paiss cynically capitalizes on today’s horrific attacks to further NIF’s political ends. In what I can only describe as an obscene move, Paiss draws a moral equivalence between those who murder worshippers in cold blood and a democratic, peace-loving citizenry fighting for its very survival.”
Rabbi Ben Hassan of Seattle’s Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation was equally taken aback by the NIF press release, telling The Mike Report “I am deeply troubled by the murder of innocent Jews in prayer. There is absolutely no justification for this heinous act. I am dismayed by the New Israel Fund’s apparent attempt to exploit this terrible murder of Jews in tefillah to further their agenda”.
In contrast to the NIF statement came an unequivocal and unqualified condemnation of terrorism issued by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle earlier today. The statement read in part “Terrorist attacks anywhere are abominable, but the deliberate targeting of worshipers in a synagogue is beyond barbaric. The senseless brutality of this attack, coming after recent murderous outrages in Jerusalem, and the summer of rocket attacks that deliberately targeted Israeli civilians, make it all the more urgent for the entire global community to condemn this wanton, vicious attack on the innocent immediately and in unequivocal terms.“
Local Jewish activist, Nachshon Ben-Ami told the Mike Report “I think the New Israel Fund has much to learn from the Federation statement. If you wish to condemn terror, condemn terror, if you wish to make a political statement than go ahead and do that, but it is offensive when one tries to mix the two, especially in the time of our grief”
Rabbi Hassan closed his observations with a prayer that “May God grant all of the Jewish People comfort at this most difficult time. I continue my sincere prayers for peace in Israel.”
The New Israel Fund has developed a strong presence in Seattle under the leadership of Ben Murane, NIF Director of Outreach. We reached out to Mr. Murane to provide a statement on behalf of NIF but by press time we had not received his response.