Analysis of the Im Tirtzu Report on the New Israel Fund
Recently the New Israel Fund became the latest target of what appears to be a coordinated effort to stifle dissent and shut down the human rights community in Israel. A so-called research report, "The Influence of the New Israel Fund Organizations on the Goldstone Report," accused the NIF family of being "active partners in the formation of the Goldstone Report, which slandered the IDF and the State." Without NIF, claimed the study, there would be no Goldstone Report.
A complete, source-by-source analysis of the report demonstrates that it is a concoction of misrepresentations, sleight-of-hand with numbers, and outright lies. The problems with the report fall into three categories:
Im Tirtzu claimed that nearly all of the negative comments cited by the Goldstone report could be sourced to NIF-funded groups. Actually, only 1.3% of the citations in the Goldstone Report originated with reports by organizations supported by the New Israel Fund.
- Only by excluding the vast majority of the information submitted to the Goldstone commission can Im Tirtzu make its erroneous claim that NIF organizations are central to the Goldstone report. To come up with their outlandishly inflated figure, Im Tirtzu excluded official Israeli and all foreign Goldstone sources from the overall sum of sources, to make NIF organization sources seem much more weighty than they are.
- Out of 1377 quotes in the Goldstone report, the vast majority (67%) were from foreign, UN or Palestinian sources.
- Only 450 (33%) comments in the Goldstone report were from Israeli sources. Of these, most came from the news media, the Israeli government and organizations not affiliated with NIF in any way. Im Tirtzu targets 16 human rights groups supported by NIF because they are quoted in the Goldstone report. If these organizations were "responsible" for the Goldstone report because they are quoted, as Im Tirtzu has it, then so is the Israeli military and political leadership. Many of the most controversial sections of the Goldstone report, including the section on what it calls "disproportionate response," rely primarily or heavily on official Israeli sources to support its contentions, including the IDF's northern and southern commanders. Would Im Tirtzu hold them, too, responsible for the Goldstone report?
- The IT report authors blamed NIF-funded groups for "92 percent" of what they called negative citations in the Goldstone report. They came to this figure by counting footnotes attributed to these organizations. Had they actually read the footnoted texts, they would have realized that many of the original sources did not refer to Gaza. Two groups accused of providing negative information about Gaza, Yesh Din and Bimkom, do not work on Gaza-related issues at all.
- Some human rights groups' reports attacked by Im Tirtzu were used by the IDF itself in its post-war evaluation of its performance and conduct. (http://forward.com/articles/125416/)
- Im Tirtzu used methods that would be laughed out of a high school statistics class. If six organizations signed a letter mentioned in the Goldstone report, the IT report 'counted' the letter as six sources. If the letter is mentioned again in Goldstone, the IT "researchers" added another six sources, and so on.
Some organizations criticized in the Goldstone Report have never received support from the New Israel Fund. Others are members of coalitions that receive support for coalition work, not for the specific mission and tasks of the listed organization.
- New Profile is not and never has been a grantee of the New Israel Fund.
- Zochrot is not and has never been a grantee of the New Israel Fund.
- Im Tirtzu characterizes New Israel Fund grantees as "extreme leftist groups" operating in various sectors, despite the fact that NIF supports more than 300 Israeli nonprofit organizations, including groups that work with recent immigrants, disabled-rights groups, women's rights groups and pluralistic Orthodox organizations. The 16 human rights groups cited in their report received less than 10% of NIF's grants last year. These organizations, many of them internationally respected, are far from ideologically monolithic. Branding them as extreme-left organizations is a clumsy attempt to assert that all human rights organizations should be considered as outside the Israeli political mainstream.
Im Tirtzu accuses the New Israel Fund of sparing "hardly a word" for Sderot. The New Israel Fund and its action arm, SHATIL, have funded, sponsored and launched programs empowering the citizens of Sderot (and other underserved periphery communities) for many years.
- SHATIL is supporting "Kol Acher" (A Different Voice) in Sderot, a group that works to promote dialogue on both sides of the border between Sderot and Gaza. This is one of the 16 organizations that Im Tirtzu accuses of "harming Israel" – and the one that actually gave testimony to the Goldstone Commission on the suffering of Sderot residents during the war!
- SHATIL consultants work with immigrant/activist groups from both the former Soviet Union and the Ethiopian community in Sderot.
- NIF launched its own "Active Citizenship" education program in Sderot schools, providing a pilot program on civics education that has been praised by Israel's Education Ministry.
- Several Sderot activists are now participating in SHATIL's Young Leaders Forum and a leader of Sderot's young Kavkazi (Caucasus immigrant) community is also participating in the SHATIL-led Negev Forum for Multi-Sector Leadership.
- NIF/SHATIL invested millions of dollars building civil society in the North after the Second Lebanon war and we are now coordinating our many Negev programs into a long-term initiative. Very few organizations work with as many underserved, periphery populations as does NIF/SHATIL, and our work in Sderot exemplifies that.
- We challenge Im Tirtzu, NGO Monitor and other NIF critics to demonstrate the value of their contributions to Sderot.
The New Israel Fund has a thirty-year record of solid accomplishment building civil society in Israel – in human and civil rights, social justice, and religious pluralism. These accomplishments are proudly and correctly cited by defenders of Israel as primary evidence of Israeli democracy.
NIF supports Israel's most reputable and internationally-respected human rights groups. These groups fulfilled their mission by carefully monitoring and reporting on the Gaza operation – and provided reports that have been utilized by the IDF, the Goldstone Commission, and others. In turn, it is the task of an independent inquiry to assess these reports and put them in context. Indeed, these human rights groups were also among the first to declare the need for an independent Israeli inquiry into the events of Gaza.