It’s ironic that Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the witch-hunt over the funding of
Israeli human rights organizations, is himself accused by the police of taking
millions of dollars in bribes from foreign businessmen. (Which adds to
the irony of his being foreign minister. This guy is full of ironies.)
beyond this, I’ve been wondering what anybody could ask the NGOs about their
funding that isn’t already public knowledge.
Not only do they file annual
financial reports with the state, but you can just open one of their reports, or
go into their websites, and see who gives them money, or at least who the main
donors are. They’re all from the liberal West – European governments and Western
philanthropies, notably the New Israel Fund.
But now Im Tirtzu, a
right-wing outfit that distinguished itself by depicting NIF president Naomi
Chazan with a horn in her head, says B’Tselem, Hamoked, Breaking the Silence and
other left-wing NGOs are funded by our enemies. Im Tirtzu has a new Power Point
presentation called “Support from Arab funds and countries for organizations
working against IDF and Israeli state policies.”
The 38-page show is full
of colorful charts and diagrams; it’s got lines, arrows, names and numbers going
every which way, and it’s been reported and commented on, sometimes with deep
enthusiasm, by the local media.
“This study,” reads Im Tirtzu’s
disclaimer in small print, “was based on freely available materials. We believe
that a thorough search was conducted. Even so, it is always possible that there
are publications relevant to the topic of discussion that were not discovered
during the research. Any decision or action on your part should take such
uncertainty into consideration... In any case, this report shouldn’t be taken as
counseling or advice.”
Let me put it a different way – this “study” is a
spectacle of falsehoods. A crude slander dressed up with slick graphics. Once
you get past the scare words (“Arabs,” “terrorists,” “delegitimization,” etc.)
and actually trace the connections Im Tirtzu tries to make between the enemy and
the NGOs, you end up with nothing. There is no connection.
doesn’t show evidence that B’Tselem, Hamoked and the others got money from
terrorists. Neither does it show that they got money from any entity that funds
terrorists. It doesn’t even show that they got money from any entity that
funds any other entity that funds terrorists.
Instead, an online check of
some of these freely available materials shows that Im Tirtzu’s claim is that 13
left-wing NGOs got a small proportion of their money – a little less than $2
million all told – from a fund that, in turn, once got a tiny proportion of its
money from another fund that, in turn, once got a tiny proportion of its money
from yet another fund that, in turn, gave charity to Palestinians during the
And even that, say the major NGOs, is false – all of their
donations that were challenged in the report, they say, came from European
BUT FOR argument’s sake, let’s take Im Tirtzu at its word.
Using those freely available materials, let’s follow the money.
“tainted” $2 million, it says, comes from a Ramallah-based fund called NDCNGO
Development Center. Where does NDC get its money? Quoting from its website, Im
Tirtzu says NDC once got $412,000 from an international fund for Palestinians
called the Welfare Association.
Before looking at the Welfare
Association, though, let me point out that this $412,000 amounts to less than 2
percent of NDC’s income. The other roughly $24 million in donations comes from
the World Bank, France and a fund run jointly by Switzerland, Denmark, Holland
B’Tselem and a couple of other NGOs accused by Im Tirtzu say
all of the money they got through NDC came from the joint European fund, that
none of it came from the Welfare Association. But again, taking Im Tirtzu at its
word, let’s see what the dreaded Welfare Association is all about.
Welfare Association is a fund for Palestinian development that gets nearly $30
million from Muslim governments and institutions – as well as from the US Agency
for International Development, the World Bank, Europe, Canada, the Ford
Foundation and the Princess Diana Memorial Fund.
But Im Tirtzu, quoting
from the Welfare Association’s website, notes that nearly $800,000 came in a
grant from the Islamic Development Bank. Quoting from the IDB website, Im Tirtzu
points out that the bank set up the Al Kuds Intifada Fund and Al Aksa Fund to
aid “the families of the martyrs, the injured, handicapped and persons
imprisoned in Israeli jails, as well as the Palestinians whose houses were
demolished and farms destroyed by Israeli soldiers.”
Is there anything
wrong with Muslims giving charity to the Palestinians during the intifada, even
to the “families of martyrs”? To Im Tirtzu, however, this is “proof of the
involvement of the Al Kuds and Al Aksa funds in support of terror.”
so ends the money trail. That’s all there is, according to this Power Point
presentation. Tell me – where’s the smoking gun? Where do we see Israeli
human rights organizations being funded by the enemy? If you want to play “A got
a dollar from B, who got a dollar from C, who got a dollar from D, therefore A
is being bankrolled by D,” you could probably run it on most universities,
synagogues and day care centers and come up with juicier stuff than Im Tirtzu
thinks it found.
In short, this “study” is junk. Cybertrash.
HERE’S another perfect irony about the witch-hunt against the left-wing NGOs:
Guess which right-wing NGO refuses to make public the identity of even a single
one of its donors?
That’s right: Im Tirtzu.
I asked Ronen Shoval, the
group’s leader, for some names of contributors. Forget it. “I can promise you
they aren’t Arab funds or unfriendly governments,” he said. “Most of our money
comes from small donations, from university students, from Am
That’s what patriotism’s all about, right? You gotta walk it
like you talk it.
To Im Tirtzu and Avigdor Lieberman, patriotism also
means making up falsehoods about left-wing dissenters, smearing them as enemies
of the people. Jews have been victims of such patriotism for
centuries. The final irony in this freak show we’re living through is
that Jews have become the inquisitors, too.