But there are still those who think it is a progressive organization that funds initiatives to make Israel more democratic, to improve the treatment of women and Arab citizens, to increase tolerance of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism in Israel, etc.
Some of its grantees are focused on these kinds of things, but it has another side which is not so progressive.
Let’s leave aside whether well-off American liberals really understand the differences between Israel and the US, whether the silly comparisons between Arabs and African-Americans make sense, and whether they have the slightest idea of what it is like to live under rocket bombardment or send their children to compulsory military service.
Leave aside as well this fundamental difference: the difference between a country founded to be either a ‘melting pot’ or a multicultural society (as you prefer), and one which is expressly defined as the state of the Jewish people.
Let’s just talk about whether a contribution to the NIF tends to promote the continued existence of Israel, or its replacement by another Arab Muslim state. That would not be ‘progressive’ at all.
The NIF has suffered a series of embarrassments in this regard:
The revelation that the majority of NGOs that contributed ‘documentation’ to the Goldstone report received funding from NIF
The ambiguity about whether NIF supports groups that call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel (see also here)
The support for the very anti-Israel Women for Peace coalition
The former NIF leader caught by Wikileaks saying that “the disappearance of the Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic”
One of the NIF-funded organizations that has drawn a great deal of criticism is Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. I wrote previously,
In 2007, Adalah presented its version of a “Democratic Constitution” for Israel. In the introduction, Adalah begins by demanding that
The state of Israel must recognize, therefore, its responsibility for the injustices of the Nakba and the Occupation; recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees based on UN Resolution 194 [understood by Arabs as return of any ‘refugees’ who choose to do so — ed]; recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; and withdraw from all of the territories occupied in 1967.
They also present several options for providing the Arab minority with a veto over all decisions of the Knesset. There is lots more, but the adoption of this constitution would clearly mean the end of the Jewish state.
Adalah refers to Israel as an “apartheid state,” contributed to the Goldstone report (39 citations) and has assisted foreign states in pressing ‘lawfare’ complaints against Israeli officials (details here). Despite promises that it would not make grants to anti-Zionist groups, NIF has continued to fund Adalah.
Adalah styles itself as a “civil rights” group, but the effect of its anti-state activities is to damage, rather than improve, the critical relationship between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.
Next week an Adalah official will speak at an Israel Apartheid Week event organized by the Swiss “BDS Genève” group, on the topic “The policy of Apartheid in Israel: The new racist laws”.
This is not ‘pro-democracy’ or ‘pro-peace’ or pro-anything. It is simply part of the worldwide campaign to delegitimize and stigmatize Israel, in order to make it easier to force it to make dangerous concessions and to limit its right of self-defense. The objective of the BDS movement is no different than that of the Hamas rocket squads — the elimination of the Jewish state.
It is therefore remarkable — and infuriating — that it is being financed in part by donations from progressive Jews in the US who believe themselves to be pro-Israel.