New Israel Fund and top US communications professionals in bitter row


A fierce row has erupted between the New Israel Fund (NIF) and three top US communications professionals.

Accusations began flying between left-leaning charity the NIF and Ronn Torossian, Hank Sheinkopf and George Birnbaum after they penned combative articles about each other in the Jerusalem Post.

The row became so charged that the newspaper took the unusual step of removing both articles from its website. It later re-posted the piece by Torossian, Sheinkopf and Birnbaum after discussing the matter internally.

In recent years there has been a high-profile campaign against the NIF because of its financial support for left-wing and Arab organisations in Israel that some Israelis and supporters of Israel consider unpatriotic.

Most controversially, it funds organisations that issue critical assessments of the conduct of the Israeli military, and refuses to automatically deny funding to organisations that support boycotts of settlements.

Mr Torossian, founder of New York City-based 5W Public Relations, has become a key player in this informal campaign against the NIF. Together with two other prominent communications professionals, Hank Sheinkopf and George Birnbaum, Mr Torossian appealed in the Jerusalem Post for American Jews to stop giving to the NIF - singling out several figures in American Jewish philanthropy by name in their appeal. "If it harms Israel, count on the NIF to be part of it," they wrote.

Naomi Paiss, vice-president of public affairs at the NIF, hit back with her own Jerusalem Post column in which she quoted the American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg describing Mr Torossian as the "most disreputable flack in New York" and a man who represents the "lunatic fringe".

She questioned who was paying Mr Torossian for his efforts, and claimed that their representation by him "only indicates just how desperate the extremists now are in my country".

Steve Linde, editor of the Post, declined to comment on his decision to remove the articles. The paper ran an apology for publishing Ms Paiss' article, calling it "factually inaccurate and slanderous".

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive