Be aware: not all Israeli charities are equal

By Dan Kosky, July 31, 2008

Why is one of our largest fundraisers giving money to a group that wants to erase Israel's Jewish character?


The New Israel Fund (NIF), one of the UK's largest Jewish charities, exists to promote the values of justice, democracy and equality in Israel. Unlike some civil society groups, this is not mere lip service and NIF can justly be proud of an impressive record of achievement. Their work to promote civil rights, women's rights and minority rights has secured their reputation as an anchor of Israel's voluntary sector.

It is therefore all the more worrying to discover that among the initiatives supported by NIF is the extreme NGO Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, whose vision for Israel undermines some of the very foundations upon which the state was founded.

Ostensibly, Adalah's purpose is laudable - the protection of rights for Israel's Arab minority. But beneath the rhetoric of human and civil rights, Adalah promotes an extreme and dangerous agenda. They routinely accuse Israel of implementing "apartheid" and of committing "war crimes" in Gaza.

But most disturbingly, in 2007, Adalah published a proposed "Democratic Constitution" for Israel, which calls for an end to Israel as a state with a specifically Jewish character.

Under their plan, Jewish immigration to Israel would only be permitted for "humanitarian reasons" and Israel's Jewish cultural framework would be replaced by an amorphous "democratic, bilingual and multicultural" state. Adalah shamelessly exploits human rights discourse to promote a plan that, if adopted, would spell the end of the Jewish state.

Shockingly, NIF sees fit to subsidise Adalah to the tune of $430,000 in 2006 and its UK wing even facilitates tax-exempt donations for those wishing to contribute to Adalah's back-door destruction of Israel.

Clearly, NIF would refuse funds to those promoting Israel's physical destruction, yet they willingly subsidise a group advocating Israel's annihilation as a Jewish state.

NIF may argue Adalah's legitimacy based on Adalah's legal accreditation by the Israeli non-profit regulator. However, legality is hardly reason enough to actively plough significant funds into an organisation. Besides, courts make legal decisions; philanthropic organisations like NIF make funding decisions based on their own priorities, beliefs and values.

In Israel's vibrant democracy, Adalah clearly has the right to express dissident views, but far from being obliged to accept these views, a true democrat should challenge them and reach appropriate conclusions.
Perhaps the mere mention of equality and civil rights by Adalah is enough for NIF to blindly reach for its cheque book, but it is hard to imagine that NIF's donor base views the attempt to de-legitimise Jewish statehood as a sound investment.

By supporting Adalah with any amount of financial support, NIF strikes the double blow of adding significant legitimacy to Adalah's destructive agenda while simultaneously undermining its own impressive achievements. Support for human and civil rights can never be reconciled with the denial of Jewish sovereignty.

We all share NIF's vision of an Israel which is a true "light to the nations", an example of equality and justice to the world. But, this cannot be compromised by identification with those who seek to deny a central tenet of Israel's Declaration of Independence, "the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State".

Dan Kosky is Communications Director of NGO Monitor,

Last updated: 1:31pm, July 31 2008