Many books have been written about the financing of war, but Edwin Black’s latest book is about the financing of peace. That would seem like a positive theme, except that Black reveals that the financing of peace is really the financing of war.
Edwin Black has a history of writing investigative reports about the financing of conflict and Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel is firmly in that tradition. Black picks up where he left off with his investigation of the Ford Foundation’s bigoted Anti-Israel shenanigans at Durban to look at the left’s financing of the conflict in Israel.
Israel is a small country and most Israeli Jews and Arabs already know that the conflict is stirred up by interested parties. They know that rocks don’t just get thrown randomly at soldiers and confrontations between Jewish and Arab villages are often staged by interested parties who don’t even live there.
The conflict was always externally encouraged, whether it was the British and the Nazis playing spy games or Iran and the Soviet Union funneling money and instructions to terrorists, but the perpetuation of the conflict has interwoven a mesh of conflict profiteers into the country, from hordes of stringers and journalists looking for a conflict photo or terror interview to sell, and over to the networks of non-profit organizations stirring up violence on an even larger scale and for even uglier motives.
It is this network of non-profits, some little known outside Israel, which is the topic of Black’s book.
The demonization of Israel, from the high range of official documents like the Goldstone Report to the low range of viral videos on YouTube, doesn’t just happen. It’s the for-profit work of non-profit organizations that finance a campaign that sometimes falls just narrowly short of open terrorism.
In Financing the Flames, Black tracks how American foreign aid funds terrorists and how tax-exempt contributions to the New Israel Fund finance violent clashes between soldiers and protesters linking them together in the new economics of the war against Israel and the perpetuation of the violence.
The business of peace resembles the business of war and much of the money being lavished on ending the conflict actually perpetuates it. Whether it’s foreign aid that ends up in the pockets of terrorists, motivating them to bomb and kill, or non-profit grants to social justice organizations like the New Israel Fund whose grantees seek to provoke confrontations to justify their existence, the flames of war are being fed by dollars and euros earmarked for promoting peace.
Financing the Flames breaks down everything from the dollar amounts paid to convicted terrorists ($400 a month for under 3 years, $1,690 for over 10 years and $2,000 for over 15 years) to how the viral videos of Israeli soldiers clashing with civilians are staged (taunt the soldiers, insult their mothers, get right in their faces, edit out the parts that show the incitement) to how a money trail that begins with George Soros ends with violence and hate.
Black doesn’t write in abstracts, instead he gets down and dirty with the personalities; from a meeting at a hotel with the arrogant director of the New Israel Fund to a trailer park in Florida that serves as the real base of operations for an anti-Israel activist group that uses false European fronts to cover its tracks. Financing the Flames takes the reader into encounters with Israeli soldiers and Arab sheiks who surprisingly agree on wanting foreign financed NIF social justice front groups like B’Tselem to go away and leave them alone.
An Arab farmer tells Edwin Black how social justice groups deliberately plant olives in a nature preserve and then stage confrontations for the cameras when the authorities tear up the trees.
“Why do they do it?” he asks rhetorically. “They are encouraged to make trouble.”
Financing the Flames establishes how often “peace groups” act in such bad faith ways, engaging in pointless confrontations and promoting boycotts that only hurt the people they claim to want to help while appearing utterly disinterested in working toward peace.
The culture of activism that has grown around the conflict has made things worse, Black suggests. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Western NGOs routinely make things worse when they egotistically and blindly interfere in foreign countries, but their actions in Israel are often uniquely malicious.
Some of the most shocking material in Financing the Flames includes the New Israel’s Fund involvement in child endangerment as children are dispatched to harass Israeli soldiers. Paying children to throw rocks at soldiers was a common journalistic tactic back in the Intifada 80s and produced plenty of dramatic photos and videos, but there is something disturbing about a non-profit that is being heavily supported by American tax-exempt contributions helping finance this sort of behavior.
The journalists and the non-profits have a profit motive and an ideological motive to perpetuate the conflict. The money comes from American billionaires and foundations, from the Ford Foundation, which made the New Israel Fund possible, from George Soros, a former Nazi collaborator, while the people on the ground are treated like puppets manipulated into dancing for their amusement.
Black’s journalism is meticulously researched and he brings to it the same moralistic eye for detail that informed his earlier work. Edwin Black had examined the funding mechanisms behind the Holocaust and with Financing the Flames he once again charts how modern day genocide is financed and promoted, from the Islamic Development Bank to the State Department to the donor down the block.
The wires cross as money from Islamic terror states and from liberal foundations in the United States go to finance the same organizations and seemingly for the same purposes revealing that when it comes to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Ford Foundation, George Soros and the Saudi king are all on the same page.
Sheikh Zaid al-Jabari of Hebron, a city that has become a favorite target of social justice activists looking to shoot viral videos targeting Israeli soldiers and residents, says, “Millions of dollars are given to these organizations, and they say it is for peace... instead of putting water on the fire, they are fanning the flames.”
The non-profits of the left didn’t begin this conflict, but Edwin Black’s book establishes that they most certainly are fanning the flames.
The millions and billions of dollars flowing into Gaza and the West Bank from foreign aid and non-profits aren’t making things better. Even under the guise of peace, there is still more money in war.
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