New Israel Fund Ejected from Birthright Program
The Algemeiner Journal and The Jerusalem Post reported today that New Israel Fund, a controversial foundation that supports dozens of Israel related causes, many of which are considered hostile to the Jewish State, was ejected earlier this month from participation in the Taglit Birthright program. Birthright is the centerpiece Jewish establishment outreach program to engage young Jewish adults in Israel and the Jewish world. While Taglit/Birthright has not provided a public explanation for NIF’s exclusion, there has long been tension between Taglit, a mainstream pro-Israel organization, and New Israel Fund, which engenders a more jaundiced view of Israel and Israeli policies, especially as it relates to the Arab Israeli conflict.
New Israel Fund claimed in an internal letter that their dismissal from Birthright was in part related to their agenda of influencing Israeli policy.
NIF actively supports organizations like Machsom Watch, which harass Israeli soldiers while on duty at checkpoints, Breaking The Silence which dispatches former Israeli soldiers on international tours accusing the IDF of human rights violations and war crimes, and +972 magazine, which offers a ready stream of anti-Israel articles and opinion pieces. During the recent Gaza war, New Israel Fund dispatched emergency grants to fund anti-Israel protests in Israel.
The Jerusalem Post quoted NGO Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg who noted that “members of the New Israel Fund’s NGO network, including Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and others use their budgets to bombard the UN, the European Union, journalists, academics and others with false allegations of ‘war crimes’ and ‘apartheid.’ In this context, the precedent set by Birthright is important and might encourage other Jewish and Israel-related organizations to examine New Israel Fund’s disproportionate impact.”
New Israel Fund activists are well integrated within the leadership structure of Seattle’s Jewish Federation and within the clergy of several Seattle area congregations.