Kaye: BDS, NIF and the Race for Governor

Kaye: BDS, NIF and the Race for Governor

As the public learns the facts, contributions to the New Israel Fund continue to drop — by almost 20 percent to $27 million in 2016

Mitchell Kaye

Mitchell Kaye served five terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and is a frequent traveler to Israel.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely candidate for governor next year, rallies the Ossoff crowd at the Crown Plaza Ravinia.
House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a likely candidate for governor next year, rallies the Ossoff crowd at the Crown Plaza Ravinia.

Hypocrisy knows no bounds! A recent column in the AJT (“Georgia Must Not Elect Pro-BDS Governor,” Nov. 24) by Steve Berman attacks then-House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor, for her vote against anti-BDS legislation that was passed by the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016.

In July, I contacted Abrams after it was widely reported that the family of George Soros, a self-hating Jew and Hungarian-American business magnate who is notorious for funding anti-Israel causes, held a fundraiser for her gubernatorial campaign.

I pointed out and gave examples that perhaps she was unaware of Soros’ ties to many groups who target and falsely libel the state of Israel and demonize her soldiers. Funding through his Open Society Foundations of Adalah, a so-called “independent human rights organization,” is one example. According to NGO Monitor, Adalah accuses Israel and her soldiers of war crimes, encourages their prosecution and has called on governments to sever diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Adalah was instrumental in the discredited Goldstone Report, a publication of the U.N. Human Rights Council concerning the 2008 conflict in Gaza. Adalah input was cited 38 times in the report, which was pervasive with recommendations highly critical of Israel.

To Abrams’ credit, knowing that I am a Republican and do not support her candidacy, she at least responded, saying, “I respectfully disagree with the characterizations of his (Soros’) work.” She recently penned a column on these pages (“My Vote on BDS Bill Reflected Wider Implications,” Nov. 24) weakly explaining her BDS vote, which was typical wordsmithing and political double-speak. She is bright and knows exactly what she is doing. Perhaps if she returned the money, her words would not seem so hollow.

Adalah also receives substantial funding from the New Israel Fund, a U.S.-based charity that benignly describes its objective as “social justice and equality for all Israelis.” While NIF does contribute to causes within the political mainstream, as Shai Robkin, the chair of the Atlanta Regional Council of NIF, wrote in a recent column (“NIF: The Path of Progress,” Sept. 15), it also crosses the line and funds many toxic groups that seek to delegitimize, criminalize, ostracize and promote international pressure on Israel. (Berman is also on NIF’s Atlanta council.)

NIF and the Soros family also fund Breaking the Silence, yet another nonprofit that promotes the criminalization and allegations of war crimes by members of the Israel Defense Forces to international bodies and claims that shooting or stabbing IDF soldiers by civilians is not terrorism.

BtS often lies and fabricates crimes. Recently the Israeli state attorney closed a case into IDF abuse against Palestinians brought by an official of BtS “after the investigation revealed that the events he described did not occur.”

Our local NIF friends further praise Soros as “the nation’s most prominent and largest donor to Democrats and progressive causes.” A major red flag to the pro-Israel community.

While it is not a crime to justly or unjustly criticize Israel and her actions, it is highly disingenuous and hypocritical when one claims to be pro-Israel but supports funding groups virulently hostile to Israel and her existence, groups roundly criticized by Israelis across the political spectrum.

In July, Knesset member Miri Regev, a former brigadier general in the IDF, said, “This is not the New Israel Fund — this is a fund that wants a new Israel, an Israel that gives a platform for the support and glorification of terrorists.”

Birthright Israel terminated its partnership with NIF three years ago, and the Israeli Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in 2015, upheld the Law Preventing Harm to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott. This allows lawsuits against those who proliferate BDS against Israeli individuals, companies and institutions. It is no surprise that the losing pro-BDS petitioners were mainly NIF grantees, including Adalah.

As the public learns the facts, contributions to NIF continue to drop — by almost 20 percent to $27 million in 2016 — while its donations to Israeli groups have plunged to $13.5 million.

It is time to ask local NIF leaders where they stand. Besides Robkin and Berman, the Atlanta council includes Lois Frank, Leah Fuhr, Jan Jaben-Eilon, Robin Kramarow, Judy Lipshutz, Charles Miller, David Minkin, Glenda Minkin, A.J. Robinson, Harry Stern and Charles Taylor.

Tell them to stop the hypocritical outrage and cease support for the unsupportable. Ask them if they stand with George Soros, Adalah, Breaking the Silence and many other toxic recipients of NIF or with our brave brothers and sisters in the IDF and the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. You cannot stand with both!

read more: