Soccer star withdraws from project over New Israel Fund backing

Menashe Zalka withdrew from the All Star Team Initiative after learning of the NIF's involvement.

Menashe Zalka (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Menashe Zalka
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Israeli soccer star Menashe Zalka has withdrawn his participation in the Israeli Football Association's 'Social Responsibility All-Star Team,' over the initiative's involvement with the New Israel Fund, Israel Hayom has reported.
A joint project between The Israel Football Association, the Israel Football Players' Association and the New Israel Fund, the All Star Team initiative states its aim as to promote integration and co-existence within Israeli society.
Zalka, an Ethiopian-Israeli and captain of the Hapoel Hadera soccer club, was initially pleased to take part in the program, alongside 13 other top football players, until he learned of the New Israel Fund's backing.
"The Players's Association and Football Association contacted me to take part in the All Stars' Team, and of course I gladly accepted," Zalka wrote on his Facebook page, adding: "An important detail that was not brought to my attention was that the New Israel Fund is involved in the project. Once I found out, I decided to withdraw."
"There is no chance that I will cooperate with the 'New Israel Fund.' If in the future there will be projects that the New Israel Fund is not involved in, I will be happy to participate," he added.
A former Paratrooper with the IDF, Zalka still serves as an active reservist. Last May he was chosen in this capacity to light a beacon on Independence Day.
The New Israel Fund, one of the largest financiers of left-wing Israeli society, has caused controversy through its backing of NGOs such as Breaking the Silence, Adalah and B'Tselem.
Its websites lists its values as including "equality for all the citizens of the state regardless of religion, national origin, race, gender or sexual orientation"; to "recognize and reinforce the essential pluralism of Israeli society and tolerance for diversity"; and to "protect the access of minorities to democratic channels for the expression of their interests and identities and the promotion of their rights."
The New Israel Fund said: "The team consists of players who are social role models struggling with racism and violence, and promote tolerance and acceptance of the other. We have worked for years with players from all of Israeli society, and will continue to do so for sports and Israeli society."
The Zionist watchdog Im Tirtzu, however, was critical. "Despite the claims of the New Israel Fund to be working on behalf of Israel, the reality is that the NIF is the largest umbrella organization of radical Israeli propaganda organizations that defend terrorists in court, defame IDF soldiers, and delegitimize Israel," said CEO Matan Peleg.
"They are a wolf in sheep's clothing and the Israeli public needs to be aware of it," he added.