Im Tirzu: NIF NGOs gave bulk of Goldstone testimonies

Meretz denounces “slanderous campaign against the NIF and its chairwoman.”

A report set to be released in the coming days by the centrist-Zionist student group Im Tirtzu, has accused the New Israel Fund, a group that works toward religious pluralism and democratic change, of direct responsibility for the United Nations’ Goldstone Report on the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip just over a year ago.
According to the report, 92 percent of the negative citations used in the Goldstone Report to criticize the IDF’s conduct in Gaza last year came from 16 Israeli NGOs, which Im Tirtzu has alleged received some $7.8 million in financial support from the NIF in 2008-2009 alone.
Among the NGOs listed in the report are Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, Doctors for Human Rights, Gisha, Bimkom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Itach, Other Voice, New Profile, Machsom Watch and Who Profits from the Occupation.
The report states that the above NGOs contributed “hundreds” of testimonies and other materials to the Goldstone Report, and that while Palestinian and UN sources inside Gaza were also consulted during Judge Richard Goldstone’s investigation in the Gaza Strip last summer, the bulk of the damage was done using the material provided by the Israeli NGOs.
“The Goldstone Report looks the way it does because of these 16 groups and the quotes they provided,” a spokesman from Im Tirtzu told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “In that vein, our goal is to remove the NIF’s mask and show the public what they really are – which is a fifth column, plain and simple.”
The report, which was leaked to the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv last week, was featured in a front-page expose in that newspaper’s weekend edition and has already begun to make political waves.
MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), a former high-ranking Shin Bet official and member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told the Post on Sunday that the details of Im Tirtzu’s report were set to be discussed during a special Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hearing next week, in which Hasson said he plans to investigate the claims thoroughly.
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“I want to clarify what these groups are doing,” Hasson told the Post on Sunday evening. “I want to check and see, in plain and simple Hebrew, that their activities are legitimate. I also want to find out where they’re receiving their funding from.”
Furthermore, Hasson said that he planned on questioning what connection, if any, the NGOs had with the recent emergence of arrest warrants in European countries, and in particular Britain, for Israeli politicians and senior IDF commanders.
“I want to know if these groups are providing names of [IDF] commanders to foreign governments,” Hasson said. “It’s known that [domestic] NGOs are also responsible for these arrest warrants, and I want to find out if the groups listed in the [Im Tirtzu] report have played a role in this.”
The report itself touches on the issue of foreign arrest warrants for Israeli politicians and IDF commanders abroad, and specifically points to a British-based Palestinian human rights group called the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which according to Im Tirtzu, has been a leading force behind war crimes charges against IDF commanders.
The PCHR, which according to the Im Tirtzu report received some $1.7m. from the Ford Foundation – founded by American automaker Henry Ford in 1936 – is listed in the report as having initiated over 900 war crimes charges against the IDF in recent years.
Furthermore, the report shows that the NIF also benefits from funding from the Ford Foundation, and received $20m. from that organization between 2003 and 2008.
Additionally, the report alleges, “Major NIF organizations signed a letter calling on Britain to prosecute senior IDF officials for war crimes.”
The report goes on to state that the Ford Foundation gives “tens of millions of dollars to anti-Israel groups across the Arab world, in the Palestinian Authority and within Israel.”
To coincide with the report, Im Tirtzu has launched a protest campaign and staged a mock Hamas rally in front of the home of NIF chairwoman and former Meretz Knesset member Prof. Naomi Hazan on Saturday night.
The group also plans to hold a demonstration opposite the Herzliya Conference at the IDC campus on Monday.
Moreover, a full-page ad taken out in the Post on Sunday also singled out Hazan as “Naomi-Goldstone Hazan” and listed some of the report’s larger claims.
NIF members labeled the ad – which featured a caricature of Hazan with a rhinoceros horn bearing the letters “NIF” tied to her forehead – as “reminiscent of [the Nazi propaganda newspaper] Der Stürmer” and decried the report as “slanderous.”Further attempts to reach NIF members on Sunday went unanswered and no official response to the Im Tirtzu report was issued.
The Meretz Party, however, released a statement on Sunday night denouncing the report as “a slanderous campaign against the NIF and its chairwoman.”
“Meretz sees the NIF and the dozens of NGOs [under its umbrella] as a central facet of Israeli society’s democratic identity,” the statement read. “We view this ugly attack on Prof. Hazan as a further step in the shrinking of public dialogue and debate in Israel and warn of the slide towards McCarthyism that we’re finding ourselves in.”