Although it has received little public attention, recently the U.S. State Department granted the New Israel Fund and its social change and political lobbying organization, known as SHATIL, $1 million under a program designed to promote political change and reform in the Middle East.
This government program, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), gives $600 million in grants to “social activists and reformers” in 18 Middle East nations. The list of nations includes Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, and Yemen among others. MEPI’s sphere of engagement curiously includes Israel, the only stable democracy in the region.
Since the New Israel Fund is devoted to the BDS movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions), the grant from the State Department presupposes sanctioning efforts to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel.
Knesset Deputy Speaker Yoni Chetboun said the New Israel Fund (NIF) is bent on “erasing the Jewish identity from the Jewish state.” He added that NIF represents “the biggest left-wing lobby in Israel.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party both derided NIF as “anti-Zionist.”
NIF denies the accusations, noting it is only interested in “internal change.” However, the State Department grant vouchsafes NIF legitimacy for its political actions and seemingly approves of its interference in Israel’s upcoming election.
However one describes this State Department program, it is an attempt to interfere with the politics of Israel through strikes, protests, and other forms of activism. While there may be justification for assisting grass-roots organizations in their efforts to destabilize dictatorships like Iran, using American taxpayer money to influence Israeli politics is clearly unjustified.
The BDS movement against Israel, which NIF embodies, is an ideological war to demonize Israel as a racist, “Apartheid state.” It has applied lies, misunderstanding, and Orwellian logic as instruments in this war whose sole purpose is to ostracize and isolate Israel as a state bereft of “social justice.”
For those in this movement, social justice translates into a Palestinian state with Israel retreating behind 1967 borders. Yet the movement goes beyond this point. For BDS, Zionism is the essential evil, only dismantling the Jewish state can address it.
Many in this movement and in the NIF are idealists, dedicated radicals, either unaware or uncaring that they are being manipulated by Islamists and their sympathizers in the West. But the leaders of BDS know precisely what they are doing. In eliciting support from around the globe, they hope to make Israel into a state without allies, an outlier in the international community.
Unfortunately, the American citizen most probably does not know how his tax money is being used. Some might contend the State Department grant to SHATIL is the continuation of President Obama’s anti-Israel campaign, perhaps financial retaliation for Netanyahu’s speech to the Congress.
Even if this isn’t the case, it is odd that the State Department would apply grants to an organization that wants to disrupt a democratic nation. Isn’t a stable democracy in the vicinity of a nest of vipers what we should be supporting?
NIF has confused many youthful Jews with its dissimulation. It is too bad these young people are unaware of Voltaire’s admonition, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.
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