The New Israel Fund and other deceptions

Earlier this week, the Age carried a story on page three entitled ‘Welcome mat pulled from Israeli academic’ by Jason Koutsoukis. The article concerns the cancellation of a visit by Naomi Chazan, who was due to speak here in Melbourne next week.

Although Dr Danny Lamm, the President of the Zionist Council of Victoria, was quoted in the article, it should be clear, that the ZCV was not responsible for either Ms Chazan’s initial invitation or its withdrawal. In fact, Koutsoukis identified the organisation which cancelled the invitation in the third paragraph of his article.

Despite, this, a letter written by a David Langsam appeared in the Age which incorrectly stated that the ZCV was responsible for withdrawing the invitation to Professor Chazan and which makes the ridiculous claim that the Zionists have become more successful than their detractors in boycotting Israeli academics. What makes this piece of correspondence and its publication all the more farcical is the mischief-making behind it.

I am informed that Langsam contacted the Executive Director of the Union for Progressive Judaism, Mr. Steve Denenberg yesterday and was advised that the ZCV was not involved in either the invitation or its withdrawal. Despite having the record set straight, Langsam nevertheless saw it fit to fire off a factually incorrect letter to the Age. And the Age published him!

In his article, Koutsoukis claimed the event was cancelled “because she [Chazan] heads an organisation that aided a United Nations report critical of the country’s conduct during last year’s war in Gaza.” Whilst it is true that a number of the many unfounded allegations made against Israel in the UN Report compiled by Sir Richard Goldstone (who subsequently admitted that “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven”) originated from groups which are funded by the NIF, the problem goes far deeper than this statement suggests.

For those who are interested, here is some more information about the NIF:-

The NIF distributes monies donated from various sources to over 300 Non-Government Organisations in Israel. Recently, investigations into the recipients have indicated that several of them “demonise Israel at the UN, support boycott and divestment campaigns, promote ‘lawfare’ cases against Israeli officials, and even advocate erasing the Jewish character of the state” (see more). Included among these recipients is Adalah which ostensibly has a most laudable purpose, namely to protect the rights of Israel’s Arab minority. Unfortunately, this group also routinely accuses Israel of implementing “apartheid” and of committing “war crimes” and in 2007, published a proposed “Democratic Constitution” for Israel, which called for an end to Israel as a state with a specifically Jewish character. Under this plan, Jewish immigration to Israel would only be permitted for “humanitarian reasons” (see more). In other words, it proposes an outcome which is diametrically opposed to the Zionist dream of the one Jewish State in a world where there are presently 22 Arab States and over 50 Muslim States.

Please also read ‘Slush Fund’, which originally appeared in Ma’ariv in Hebrew.

There is every possibility that there may even be a Knesset enquiry into the group. MK Otniel Schneller of Kadima is calling for government authorisation to create a parliamentary investigative committee to look into the funding of the NIF. He declared, “I’m not interested in shutting people up… I’m interested in establishing boundaries and limits… There’s a certain limit to what is legitimate and what is not… If you have [Israeli] organisations that are actively working against the State of Israel, well then wait a minute – that’s not legitimate, and enough is enough” (see more).

As always, Israel is at the forefront of the news in our local papers. Earlier this week an article in Haaretz (of all places) claimed incorrectly that two Israeli soldiers had been reprimanded for using white phosphorus shells in a civilian area during Operation Cast Lead. The truth of the matter is that two Israeli soldiers were indeed reprimanded but not for firing phosphorus shells. They were using artillery shells. Our friend, Mr. Koutsoukis from the Age, did not hesitate to run with the story and, in keeping with his newspaper’s form on the issue of white phosphorus decided to have two bites of the cherry. The first article, entitled ‘Israel disciplines army officers over Gaza’ appeared in Tuesday’s paper. The second article, repeating the same white phosphorus claims, appeared yesterday in an article entitled ‘Israel “war crime” probe’ urged. However, CAMERA had already published an analysis of these false claims in a report entitled ‘Cloud of Question of Ha’aretz’s White Phosphorous Story’ on 1 February, and Melanie Phillips has also followed up on this story (see more).

There was a time when newspapers issued a retraction after it became clear that an error of this grave nature had taken place. Hands up those who expect to see a retraction from Mr. Koutsoukis or the Age at any time soon?

The disappointing thing is that if this is acceptable journalism these days, then anyone who has access to Haaretz, Ma’ariv, Jerusalem Post and Ynet could be a Middle East correspondent if they are prepared to regurgitate reports from Israeli newspapers without checking at the source.

Pardon the clichés but there is always a silver lining around when people practice to deceive (the deception I’m referring to is that of the Haaretz reporter) but at least we had a major concession when Koutsoukis makes it clear that the “IDF inquiry showed that General Eisenberg and Colonel Malka had exceeded their authority and acted against the rules of engagement, which forbid the use of artillery in populated areas, and were therefore reprimanded.” If the soldiers were acting in excess of their authority (which is abundantly clear), then the allegations by Israel’s detractors that the army sanctions the firing of artillery including white phosphorous shells into heavily populated areas must be false.

For those who are interested in the international law on the issue of the use of white phosphorus, rather than newspaper speculation and scuttlebutt, here is an interesting analysis: Israel and white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead: A case study in adherence to inadequate humanitarian laws.

A particularly repugnant feature of this conflict is the perpetuation of violent images and ideas onto children. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been repeat offenders, particularly with their use of seemingly innocent children’s characters that promote violence against Israelis and Jews. Earlier in January, the Palestine Authority controlled television station showed a boy of about ten declaring “We will liberate it with our own hands, with our weapons or stones. We will liberate Palestine!” (see more). This is from the Palestine Authority which is purportedly Israel’s negotiating partner and which pledged several times over the past two decades to put an end to incitement.

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