The New Israel Fund’s Responsibility for the Boycott Against Israel

The words and deeds of the NIF and its leaders confirming the organization's support for BDS.

The New Israel Fund (NIF) continues to claim it does not boycott Israel – this despite facts to the contrary in its pattern of giving, as well as public statements.

A few simple facts. The first Israeli boycott initiatives were led by Women's Coalition for Peace -- while it was being funded by the NIF, and former NIF president Naomi Chazan was involved in the development of that organization. Women's Coalition for Peace launched the boycott project following 2006, and was funded by the NIF until 2011. Following the many years of funding, naturally, the ill-wind blowing from this activity continues and harms major Israeli companies. What began as a boycott of the settlements spread like wildfire and become a boycott of major companies in the Israeli economy, situated inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

The following is a very partial list of companies who have been negatively impacted directly by this organization: Elbit Systems, IDB Group, Keter Plastic (Keter Group), Malam Team, Matrix IT, Shufersal, Amisragas, American Israeli Gas Crop, Leumi Bank, Hapoalim Bank, Bezeq - The Israeli Telecommunication Corporation, Delek Israel Fuel, Clal Industries, Super Pharm and Delta Galil Industries.

In addition, cooperation between the NIF and Coalition of Women for Peace continues unabated. Thus, for example, the website of Shatil, the operational arm of the NIF, continues to publicize announcements of CWP activities.

Furthermore, not only were leading activists in CWP not ousted from the NIF and its organizations, but they were actually promoted in various NIF organizations. For example:

CWP co-founder Hannah Safran is now active in Isha L’Isha, an NIF-funded organization, and even edited a book summing up 30 years of the organization’s activities. Adi Dagan, a spokeswoman for CWP until 2008, transferred her activism from 2009 until at least 2013 to the NIF-funded organization Agenda, where she was Director of Consultancy and Training.

Naomi Chazan, who was NIF president from 2008-2012, is still a senior NIF board member and serves on the Public Council of Social Television, the NIF’s leading media organization. In 2014 Chazan explained her position on the boycott to an audience of supporters in the U.S. (Partners for Progressive Israel):

Because of the ambiguity, in practical terms, boycotting Israel is only going to get the majority of Israelis riled in the wrong direction. It is not an effective move, politically... That is not true of targeted measures against settlements and against businesses and economic activities that relate to the Occupation... I think that is the right direction to go. I think it’s very, very important.

Many of us have not bought settlement products for 46 years, knowingly. We check, when we go to the supermarket, where products are made. And we do not buy. That message conveys to Israelis that there is a price to Occupation, and you’re paying it with your pocket, and that’s why it’s effective, and that again is strengthening the connection between economic measures and perhaps bolstering a willingness to entertain agreements that perhaps there was no rush to do in the past, because it’s beginning to hurt.

In response to a claim that:

One of the problems we have as Americans is that we buy products that are labeled Israel, and they’re not labeled… across the Green Line or not, so it’s very difficult for BDS related to the Occupied Territories being effective here.

Chazan responded that indeed:

I think it’s important… it’s something that could and should be done by American organizations… I’m pointing to a direction that could be interesting to pursue.

(Chazan’s remarks were published by Israeli journalist and blogger Ishay Fridman.)

Essentially, Chazan is continuing to promote a boycott of the settlements as an effective means for exerting pressure on Israeli society and the Israeli government – despite the fact that the anti-boycott law does not differentiate between a general boycott and a boycott against Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, Chazan’s remarks reveal that despite a number of questions from the audience on the BDS movement, Chazan not only does not denounce the general boycott of Israel, but rather explains that the reason for the lack of implementation of the boycott is that, according to her, “It is not an effective move, politically.”

Chazan’s own words explain more than anything else what kind of attitudes the NIF is continuing to finance: Delegitimacy organizations that call for a boycott of Israel. It is worth noting that this is no one-off mistake.

Recently the media published several reliable examples of the NIF’s continued funding of organizations that support the boycott. The New Israel Fund remains among the most dangerous extremist American Jewish organizations opposing Israel – and we call upon all NIF donors to take action and halt their donations.

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