Jacob Berkman writes a blog about Jewish philanthropy called “The Fundermentalist“. Today he tells us that for the New Israel Fund, apparently no publicity is bad publicity:
The attack on NIF may actually play right into the organization’s hands. At least that’s what [NIF CEO Daniel] Sokatch seems to think.
He told us that the recent attention proved to be a boon for NIF.
“This has not only mobilized our base, but there are people hearing about us for the fist time and saying, ‘This is what I want to support,’ ” Sokatch said. “That is the irony of this. This has put us in the limelight.”
The NIF says its number of Facebook fans has tripled, and its number of Twitter followers has jumped 50 percent over the past two weeks. And more than 50 Tweeters have put a horn on their profile pictures in a show of solidarity with [NIF President Naomi] Chazan.
…and all this because someone pointed out that NIF-funded organizations provided much of the documentation cited in the Goldstone report!
Sokatch went on to take credit for what some see as the destructive phenomenon of left-wing Israeli organizations, empowered by foreign money, which use the rhetoric of social justice and human rights to contribute t0 the demonization of Israel:
“Over the past 30 years, NIF has helped to transform Israel into a vibrant civil society, and there is virtually no corner of civil society not touched by NIF,” Sokatch told The Fundermentalist Wednesday. “We really seeded the ground for what has flourished over the past 30 years.”
I suppose he doesn’t exactly agree with my interpretation, of course, but considering what some major recipients of NIF grants have done with their money, it isn’t far from the truth. In the most generous view, NIF’s goal is to import ‘progressive’ ideas of social justice, as they have developed in places like California, to a tiny Middle Eastern nation which is at war, literally surrounded by enemies and with a substantial hostile population within its borders as well.
But Israel isn’t Berkeley, and anyway the reality is that some of NIF’s grantees are cynically using the progressive rhetoric as a smokescreen to hide their efforts to weaken the state.
Sokatch, former Executive Director of a group called the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and CEO of the the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation for a year, has just recently taken the job of NIF CEO. He’s very focused:
Though the NIF claims that it hit its slightly decreased budget expectations last year, the organization has struggled to energize a young base of donors, despite its liberal slant. The NIF is hoping that will change as a result of its turn in the spotlight.
“We will do everything we can” to monetize the new interest, Sokatch said.