How is this smear campaign different from all other smear campaigns?

In short, it isn’t. The latest liberal-minded organization to be targeted by all manner of far-right, close-minded, single-issue, “pro-Israel” advocates is the New Israel Fund. If you haven’t heard of them before, the first two paragraphs from their About page are an excellent intro:

The New Israel Fund (NIF) is the leading organization committed to democratic change within Israel. Since 1979, NIF has fought for social justice and equality for all Israelis. We believe that Israel can live up to its founders’ vision of a state that ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, without regard to religion, race or gender.

Widely credited with building Israel’s progressive civil society from scratch, we have provided more than $200 million to more than 800 cutting-edge organizations since our inception. What’s more, through our action arm, SHATIL, we mentor, train and lead Israeli civil society in an ongoing struggle to empower the underprivileged.

Sounds pretty innocuous, huh? An organization that funds civil society programs in Israel with the result of promoting universal rights and equality. Definitely not free from all controversy, but probably not evil.

Image from Promised Land blog

Image from Promised Land blog

Think again. The Zionist Im Tirtzu organization has taken it upon themselves to smear the NIF with just about anything they can dig up, including but not limited to, caricatures of its leader, former MK Prof. Naomi Hazan, claims that the NIF is responsible for “90%” of the evidence behind the Goldstone report, and that the NIF is behind the British moves towards prosecuting IDF officers for war crimes.

As should be pretty obvious, these claims are patently untrue (Hazan does not actually have a horn on her forehead, the Goldstone report got most of its evidence from Palestinian eyewitness testimony, and no one has produced any kind of evidence whatsoever linking them to British legal action). But that hasn’t stopped current MKs as well as Shin Bet and IDF officials from getting behind them. J.J. Goldberg reports that there are calls for parliamentary hearings on the work of NIF grantees (a situation which my fellow Jewschool contributor chillul Who? points out is eerily reminiscent of the Defund Acorn Act).

From my perspective, which is that of someone without extensive experience in Israeli domestic politics, I see this as misinformation intended to elicit exactly the response it has. Clearly, Im Tirtzu believes that the NIF is an existential threat to Israel (and given the NIF’s mission, that should tell you something about Im Tirtzu), enough so that they believe a smear campaign based on a flawed, narrow, and biased reading of the facts (Goldberg reports on the questionable methodology they used to get the 90% bit) is an acceptable discrediting tactic.

Ultimately, this sort of thing is totally preposterous and regressive. Unfortunately, it’s what I’ve come to expect from too much of the right. Still pushing the same tired narrative of “criticizing Israel or Israeli policy is unequivocally bad”, they resort to underhanded smears and falsehoods to attempt to delegitimize those who they disagree with. It’s no way to offer support or honest advice to a nation, especially one with as complicated a political and domestic arena as Israel.

It’s shameful that members of the Israeli government would cheapen their society by stooping to this level. Organizations like J Street and Peace Now have issued statements in support of the NIF. I echo their call.

Other references not linked in the body of the article:

29 Responses to “How is this smear campaign different from all other smear campaigns?”

  1. Unfortunately, it’s what I’ve come to expect from too much of the right. Still pushing the same tired narrative of “criticizing Israel or Israeli policy is unequivocally bad”, they resort to underhanded smears and falsehoods to attempt to delegitimize those who they disagree with

    Really? You don’t think underhanded smears come from the Left as well?


    Jonathan1 · February 2nd, 2010 at 10:26 am
  2. What is most surprising is the horn! The cartoon of Hazan is eerily reminiscent of Nazi caricatures of Jews.


    David A.M. Wilensky · February 2nd, 2010 at 11:45 am
  3. “Sounds pretty innocuous, huh? An organization that funds civil society programs in Israel with the result of promoting universal rights and equality.”

    Everything sounds innocuous when described in euphemisms and banal generalities. Obviously the issue is about specifics.


    Eric · February 2nd, 2010 at 12:33 pm
  4. I just want to say that “Zionist” should not be the adjective used to describe Im Tirtzu. “Settler-funded” would probably be more accurate. The NIF is more Zionist than Im Tirtzu will ever dream of being.


    Dave · February 2nd, 2010 at 12:45 pm
  5. Eric, if you have specifics, I and the rest of the progressive Jewish community are waiting to hear them…


    renaissanceboy · February 2nd, 2010 at 12:54 pm
  6. [...] Here’s my Jewschool post about it.  Links to informational and opinion sources are included. Tags: im tirtzu, new israel fund | Tuesday, February 2nd 2010, 11:56 AM | Jewschool, culture, current events, politics, religion |  No comments « The political obligation: constructive or… [...]


    The smear campaign against the New Israel Fund | harpojaeger.com | harpojaeger.com · February 2nd, 2010 at 1:03 pm
  7. Check out where donations go to:

    ‘Checks thus marked should be mailed to:
    Central Fund of Israel
    c/o Marcus Brothers Textiles
    980 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10018
    attn: Arthur Marcus’ imti.org.il/en/faq.html#4

    The same address was apparently used to fund other right-wing initiatives : tinyurl.com/ybtasp9


    rmn · February 2nd, 2010 at 2:07 pm
  8. Eric-
    Specifics can be easily found on the NIF’s website. Organizations they fund include the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, the Center for Jewish Arab Economic Development, Fidel (“to promote the social integration of Ethiopian immigrants, particularly in education and employment”), and the Green Environment Fund.


    BZ · February 2nd, 2010 at 2:18 pm
  9. What IDF officers were involved in the campaign? Goldberg doesn’t refer to any. This is not a rhetorical question, I really want to know!


    Arie · February 2nd, 2010 at 4:08 pm
  10. New Israel Fund funds the organizations that were cited in the Goldstone report, which accused Israel of war crimes during the campaign. Those citations contributed to an accumulation of libels against the Israel Defense Forces and a negative attitude toward Israel in the wake of the report.


    Avi · February 2nd, 2010 at 5:32 pm
  11. @Eric OK so what specifics do you object to?

    @Avi The Goldstone report is based largely on witness testimony. They witnessed whatever they witnessed whether the NIF funded anybody or not. The report merely cites NIF-funded groups in footnotes, if I’m following this story correctly. And either way, what’s worse: Israel doing bad things and everyone shutting up and letting it continue? Or Israel doing bad things and some Jews standing up to say that Israel is meant to be Or L’goyim and they should shape up and behave?


    David A.M. Wilensky · February 2nd, 2010 at 6:04 pm
  12. After the Abu Ghraib photos were released, how come no one sued Kodak?


    BZ · February 2nd, 2010 at 6:09 pm
  13. Here’s a website to check out for those who object to slime tactics:

    www.nif.org/media-center/nif-under-attack.html


    KRG · February 2nd, 2010 at 10:24 pm
  14. [...] (press release) – Jewschool (blog) – Americans for Peace [...]


    NewsViews: Google Israel -Tuesday « Last Call Journal · February 2nd, 2010 at 10:25 pm
  15. BZ, didn’t they bar military prison guards from having digital cameras?


    em · February 3rd, 2010 at 1:19 am
  16. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by renaissanceboy: RT @jewschool_com: How is the smear campaign against @NewIsraelFund different from all other smear campaigns? ow.ly/12Y4N...


    uberVU - social comments · February 3rd, 2010 at 4:01 am
  17. I just want to say that “Zionist” should not be the adjective used to describe Im Tirtzu. “Settler-funded” would probably be more accurate. The NIF is more Zionist than Im Tirtzu will ever dream of being. (-Dave)

    Amen, amen, amen.


    chillul Who? · February 3rd, 2010 at 11:05 am
  18. Good point about the Zionist bit; that came up privately. I didn’t mean to imply that being a Zionist is equivalent to being a right-winger. I suppose I was sort of making the point that organizations that call themselves Zionist are usually ones who are trying to narrow the definition, not widen it.
    In other words, while I agree that an organization that funds civil society initiatives is more in line with Zionist values than one that’s settler-funded, the NIF doesn’t call itself “a Zionist organization”. I think that it’s a label that’s often used in a rather simplistic sense, and the NIF has a little more depth of understanding than that.


    renaissanceboy · February 3rd, 2010 at 4:11 pm
  19. [...] of the contributors to the progressive Jewschool blog asked yesterday how this campaign against the NIF and other nonprofits different from the smear campaigns [...]


    Promised Land » Blog Archive » Following Im Tirzu’s campaign: first Knesset steps against NIF · February 3rd, 2010 at 7:33 pm
  20. [...] can read more about the recent smear campaign here, more about the New Israel Fund here, can see the kinda antisemitic poster made about Naomi Chazan [...]


    zionist council of victoria: not the most intelligent organisation « jew on this · February 3rd, 2010 at 9:57 pm
  21. What is most surprising is the horn! The cartoon of Hazan is eerily reminiscent of Nazi caricatures of Jews.

    The NIF’s Hebrew name is הקרן החדשה לישראל (keren), and קרן (karan) also means “horn”, so it was probably just a simple misunderstanding, like the translator of the Vulgate who mistranslated קרן עור פני משה (leading to Christian art depicting Moses with horns, and consequently the legend that Jews have horns).


    BZ · February 3rd, 2010 at 10:49 pm
  22. [...] of the contributors to the progressive Jewschool blog asked yesterday how this campaign against the NIF and other nonprofits different from the smear campaigns [...]


    Following the Im Tirzu campaign: First Knesset steps against NIF « Coteret · February 4th, 2010 at 3:12 am
  23. You can say all you want about the ad, but it was definitely not a mistranslation. Im Tirtzu is an Israeli organization. They’re all native speakers; they know what “keren” means. It was no mistake.


    littlerose · February 4th, 2010 at 5:00 am
  24. (I was joking.)


    BZ · February 4th, 2010 at 8:27 am
  25. ah. sorry. it’s just, you’re not the first one to say it, and the people who do aren’t joking.


    littlerose · February 4th, 2010 at 8:44 am
  26. Whoa, for real? Wow.


    BZ · February 4th, 2010 at 8:52 am
  27. [...] of the contributors to the progressive Jewschool blog asked yesterday how this campaign against the NIF and other nonprofits different from the smear campaigns [...]


    Suppression of Dissent « Coteret « David F. Cooper · February 4th, 2010 at 5:28 pm
  28. [...] if you’re concerned about the fascist attacks on the New Israel Fund, try decking out your twitter profile pic with the NIF solidarity horn! It’s [...]


    Misegaas: The civility in comments and anti-fascist unicorn edition | Jewschool · February 8th, 2010 at 4:48 pm
  29. [...] Right. [...]


    In which Alan Dershowitz displays less understanding of Israel Apartheid Week than most college students (and specifically Roberta Goldman of Brown University) | Jewschool · March 6th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

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