Did New Israel Fund Donations to Israeli BDS NGOs trigger Orange Boycott?

Misleading New Israel Fund Banner at New York Israel Day Parade, June 1, 2015

In our NER review of Manfred Gerstenfield’s latest book, The War with a Million Cuts, we wrote of the latest episode of BDS involving the French cell phone company, Orange’s CEO Stephane Richard’s attempt to break off relations with Israeli firm, Partner Communications, Ltd.  Quick actions by Israel PM Netanyahu, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Hollywood mogul Haim Saban, a Partner investor, and French Foreign Minister Fabius upbraided Richard’s statements in Cairo, Egypt on June 3rd. That forced him to publicly disavow his remarks during a phone conversation with Israeli Vice Premier, Interior Minister Silvan Shalom.  Notwithstanding the taint of L’affaire Orange lingers.

Ronn Torossian of New York powerhouse PR firm 5WPR published an article in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News with another dirty little secret about who funded BDS activities in France.  It was the leftist anti-Israel Israeli NGO, “Who Profits from the Occupation” (Who Profits).  Torossian reveals that Who Profits had been the beneficiary of the largess of the New Israel Fund, which allegedly supports Israel while disagreeing with so-called settlement policies. Manhattan-based JCCWatch.org conducted forensic investigations of the UJA – New York Federation’s IRS Filings. Their analysis revealed that a wholly owned subsidiary, the Jewish Communal Fund (JCF), gave $6 million in grants to NIF over a dozen years.  NIF, as you may recall, was involved in funding Arab and Israel leftist opposition groups in the run up to the March 17, 2015 general Knesset elections. 

This is further confirmation of Federations in the US supporting Jewish groups engaging in slander delegitimizing the State of Israel.  Examples of what Gerstenfeld and others have called, the new Antisemitism. 

Torossian’s INN article disclosed:

Several NGOs that lead the boycott against Israel in Europe, including the Israeli organization “Who Profits from the Occupation?” issued a report in France intended to pressure Orange.

Who Profits accused Partner (the Orange Brand partner in Israel), of aiding war efforts during Operation Protective Edge, participating in the Adopt a Soldier project, and offering discounted service rates to IDF soldiers.

“Who Profits from the Occupation?” is a project launched in 2006 by the Coalition of Women for Peace, an organization which has received funding from the New Israel Fund.

In 2013, following the growth and establishment of a research center under the auspices of “Who Profits”, the project registered as an independent organization, and today they run joint activities as sister organizations. “Who Profits” is one of the leading organizations in the Anti-Israel boycott campaign and manages a website with a database on companies that invest or are involved in projects located over the Green Line or in Israeli security companies. The website encourages international companies and foreign countries to divest themselves of such investments.

In 2009 “Who Profits” activities included a letter to the Norwegian government, demanding its divestment from Elbit Systems, due to the company’s involvement in the construction of the separation fenceThe Norwegian government decided to accede to the demand and withdrew its investments. That letter to the Norwegian government was signed by additional NIF-funded organizations: Machsom Watch, Mossawa and Social Television-Syncopa – organizations that the NIF continues to support. 

Former NIF President Naomi Hazan and “Who Profits” co-founder Dalit Baum  are currently members of the Public Council of Social Television (Syncopa).

Among Israel divestment ‘successes’ by Who Profits that Torossian cites in his INN article are:

“Who Profits” has had several other “success stories,” such as the decision by Veolia, a French transportation company, to withdraw some of its investments from Israel because the projects in question traversed “the occupied territories.” The largest pension fund in Holland, PGGM, also decided to withdraw all its investments in Israel’s five largest banks, because they have branches over the Green Line and are involved in construction in the settlements.

Torossian weighed in on the UJA-Federation of New York connections to the NIF saying:

Shamefully, certain American Jewish extremists including The Jewish Communal Fund, Alisa Doctoroff, President of UJA-Federation, the Leichtag Foundation and others donate significantly to The New Israel Fund, thus supporting and encouraging boycotts against Israel.

On May 27, 2015, just prior to the annual Israel Day Parade in Manhattan on June 1, 2015, JCCWatch.org released the results of its forensic examination of the grants made by the JCF of the UJA-Federation to NIF on its website:

A fully-owned subsidiary of the UJA-Federation has sent $5,836,856 to the New Israel Fund since 2002, according to IRS form 990 filings examined by JCCWatch, with donations of between $258,503 and $802,096, made each year for the past dozen years.

The revelation contradicts the public statements from the UJA-Federation chair Alisa Doctoroff, past CEO John Ruskay and current CEO Eric Goldstein who have misled New Yorkers to believe that the umbrella charity has no financial connection to the New Israel Fund.

The New Israel Fund, in turn, is the financial banker for a network of organizations that demonize the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces, promote boycotts of Israeli products and calls for international criminal proceedings against our very own Jewish state.

The findings come on the back of a JCCWatch investigation  that showed that UJA-Federation leadership have been pressuring former Israeli diplomats, and the office of the current Consul-General in New York, to give cover for their support of the New Israel Fund to participate in the annual Israel Day Parade.

In 2014, the UJA-Federation reported on the IRS form 990 that it had assets of $1.382 billion, generating $76 million in investment income, in addition to the $167 million in new donations it received from the Jewish community.

Buried on page 7 of its audited financial statements, under “Additional Notes,” the UJA-Federation listed an entity called the Jewish Communal Fund, of which it is the “sole member” and has “controlling financial interest,” meaning the UJA-Federation owns the Jewish Communal Fund, lock, stock, and barrel.

 This all sounds too familiar to us given the Jewish Federation of Orange County California that funded Olive Tree Initiative trips by Jewish students at the University of California-Irvine in 2009 to ‘inadvertently” meet a Hamas leader in the disputed territories. Trips arranged by a Palestinian leader of the International BDS Campaign.  (See our June 2015 NER article, “How One Southern California Federations undermines Student Zionism at a state university”).   There are doubtless other major Federations that may have ‘inadvertently’ given grants to the NIF that begs further investigation by volunteer groups like JCCWatch.org.

The JCC Watch.org NIF funding disclosure prompted Jeff Dunitz of the YidwithLid blog to  post on June 1, 2015,  the occasion of the New York annual Israel Day Parade, “Why I Won’t Be Going To Today’s Israel Parade (And Why You Shouldn’t Donate To UJA)”:

“Yes–Your donations to UJA go to delegitimize the State of Israel… Why is the UJA funding an anti-Israel group? Well perhaps you should ask them when you send them a letter telling them you won’t be donating this year.”

Dunitz noted the warning issued by Jabotinsky in his  prescient 1923 essay, The Iron Wall:

One of the great things about the Jews as a people is we try to be inclusive of all people and points of view, it is also one of our downfalls. As Jabotinsky once said:

“It is incredible what political simpletons Jews are. They shut their eyes to one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not “meet halfway” those who do not want to meet you. –Ze’ev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall November 4, 1923”

I will not participate in a rally for the destruction of the Jewish State, nor will I donate money to the UJA Federation which helps to fund such groups. I will be staying home today and I will be donating to more worthy organizations. I urge that you do so also.

Torossian’s INN article, the JCCwatch.org due diligence on the Manhattan UJA-Federation and our own investigations of the California Orange County Federation buttress Dunitz’s blog post warning. It is time for unaccountable Federations to be reined in to protect the integrity of donors’ wishes to support Israel and not its enemies, including Israel-hating Jewish NGOs.