Rattling the Cage: Im Tirtzu’s spectacle of falsehood

The recent ‘study’ by the NGO on the funding of certain left-wing organizations is nothing but cybertrash.

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.)
But 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.
The study 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 intifada.
And even that, say the major NGOs, is false – all of their donations that were challenged in the report, they say, came from European governments.
BUT FOR argument’s sake, let’s take Im Tirtzu at its word. Using those freely available materials, let’s follow the money.
The “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 and Sweden.
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.
The 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.”
And 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.
AND 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 Yisrael.”
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.