New Israel Fund under attack again

The right-wing movement Im Tirzu is stepping up its campaign against the New Israel Fund (NIF) with a new report accusing NIF of funding groups that have tried to prosecute IDF officers for alleged war crimes.

The previous Im Tirzu report accused the Israeli human rights groups funded by NIF of supplying the Goldstone Commission with much of the information in its report, which accused Israel of intentionally attacking civilian targets in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. An accompanying poster campaign included a drawing of NIF president Naomi Chazan with a horn on her head, a pun on the Hebrew word for "fund".

The latest report, published this week, lists 12 organisations funded by NIF which have been involved, according to the report's authors, in war crimes prosecutions against Israeli officers. Some of the organisations prepared reports on IDF operations which were part of the evidence used to issue arrest warrants against officers.

Others sent letters to European governments calling upon them to prosecute Israeli officers and politicians.

The Im Tirzu report also refers to the financial support given by the Ford Foundation in the United States, a strategic partner of NIF, to organisations such as Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which tried to bring charges against Israelis in various European countries, including the UK.

One of the lawyers involved in these cases is himself a graduate of an NIF legal course.

The new Im Tirzu campaign was deliberately timed to coincide with Israel's Independence Day and the Remembrance Day for fallen IDF soldiers, which precedes it by a day. This led to protests from even some of its supporters, including Maariv columnist Ben Caspit, who accused it of exploiting Memorial Day.

The movement distributed to many shuls around the country a new version of the Yizkor prayer, calling upon Israelis not to forget those who had tried in time of war to undermine the army and its fighters.

To draw attention to the report, Im Tirzu plastered walls in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with photographs of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the politicians who ordered Cast Lead, in spoof "wanted" posters (see top of page).

Two men paid to put up the posters were arrested, leading to protests from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel - itself a recipient of NIF funding.

NIF said the report was "full of half-truths and manipulations all aimed a delegitimising the social organisations in Israel and through them the New Israel Foundation.

"It is based on a false assumption, that there is a connection between NIF and two foreign organisations acting to prosecute senior Israelis, but this is a total lie as NIF has never been in contact with these organisations and certainly has never given them funding."

    Last updated: 1:56pm, April 22 2010