New Israel Fund “Stirring the Pot”

From Ma’ariv by Ben-Dror Yemini who is a senior journalist with the Hebrew only daily Ma’ariv. He lectures about the spread and impact of anti-Israel propaganda.


It has been posted as a request. There is no URL. I was told it was an op-ed in Ma’ariv so this  would be a translation. 

Over a year ago, I received a tip that the New Israel Fund was stirring up the Bedouin issue.  Not just stirring it up.  Among the Bedouins there are two camps. 


Contrary to the warped information spread by various organizations, an extensive dialogue was conducted between the authorities and the Bedouins, and the Bedouins had a serious internal dispute.  Moreover, the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, which are the villages at the core of the problem, in fact chose to listen, to hold a dialogue, to make progress and instate order.  Ibrahim Alukili heads the council.  This wasn’t in the 1950s, it happened last year, 2012.


Certain figures didn’t care for Alukili’s pragmatic line.  Time passed, the arena heated up, and in order to understand why it heated up, and why some insist on causing an Intifada within Israel, you have to go back to those not-so-distant days.  Minister Benny Begin tried to promote the plan that eventually became known as “the Prawer plan,” after the director of the Prime Minister’s Office’s Planning and Policy Division, Ehud Prawer. 


The principal group with whom Begin had to contend was the village council heads.  Begin was beset from every direction.  He made a valiant effort to solve a problem that had persisted for decades.  He surveyed the territory.  He held meetings with the Bedouins.  And here’s the surprise.  Some of them thought that the plan had fair parts.  They wanted to promote an arrangement.


But the figures stirring the pot, not the locals, didn’t care for the pragmatic approach.  They wanted and want an Intifada.  They took action.  They joined together to nip any consent to the plan in the bud.  And here’s what they wrote then, over a year ago:


“Alukili is considered as someone who will sabotage other leaders’ attempts to promote a more hawkish line against the government.  Alukili recently participated in a promotional conference for the Prawer plan in the village of Wadi al-Naam alongside Benny Begin and other senior officials.  His participation provoked the wrath of the unrecognized villages’ committee heads.”


The stunning words about a demand for a “more hawkish line against the government” weren’t published in a Balad party flyer or in one of the publications of the Islamic Movement.  They were published on the website run by Shatil, the operational arm of the NIF.  This website, according to its own declaration, pretends to present the “government plans for mass eviction and house demolitions in the unrecognized Negev communities,” as well as “to endorse the struggle for recognition for unrecognized communities.”  The language makes the intent clear: activities to radicalize the Bedouins’ positions.  It’s unclear if it’s the NIF that supported the Islamic Movement, Adalah and Balad, or if these groups supported the NIF. 

The result is clear: a new coalition has been created.


The NIF’s organizations took action.  One of the results is a film riddled with incitement, “Fiddler With No Roof,” distributed by Rabbis for Human Rights.


The chairman of the Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, who made an outcry, and who represents the core of the problem, committed an unforgivable crime.  He thought there was a need for dialogue.  He was thrown out.  This is approximately similar to going against, let’s say, Abu Mazen, the moment he gives up the right of return.  The left wing already had somebody who portrayed him as making such a concession, and said that he had “sold his soul to the devil.”  The devil, of course, is Israel.  This is the same ultra-radical and anti-Israel logic that led to the opposition to the arrangement in the Negev.  When the NIF’s operational arm states from the outset that this is “mass destruction,” any official who thinks otherwise becomes a “terrorist,” and anyone who makes trouble as adopting  a “more hawkish line.”


A few more months passed, and the same website by Shatil reported with joy,


“Two new leaders were elected, Atia el-Issam will chair the council and Mohamed Abu Fariha will serve as his deputy.  The new leadership is expected to adopt a more hawkish line.” 


Claims were made against Alukili of improper behavior.  Right?  Wrong?  What’s clear is that el-Issam, a member of the Islamic Movement, represents the village of Abu-Talul.  This was an unrecognized village.  It became a recognized village.  How is it that this man represents the unrecognized villages?  A senior Bedouin figure told the undersigned that this is contrary to the organization’s regulations.  That also sounds logical.  But el-Issam was supported by the radical coalition.  So who cares about proper procedure when a series of organizations want the man with the hawkish line to be elected?


In a conversation with Alukili, he said that he still serves as council head, and that the elections which took place and his ouster are meaningless.  He said that he accepts parts of the arrangement plan, and doesn’t accept others.  He also noted that he submitted an alternative plan in partnership with Professor Oren Yiftahel from Ben-Gurion University’s geography department. 


The demonstrations on Saturday night make it clear that the radical officials are taking over the Bedouin struggle.  They’re turning it into an anti-Zionist struggle.  Figures like the Islamic Movement and Balad members are stirring this pot.  Without the Israeli authorities, they would kill each other, as is happening in the Middle East.  But sometimes they have a joint objective.  They don’t want a solution, equality or an arrangement.  They want a clash and provocations.  Buses from northern Israel are coming to the Bedouin centers.  It’s not that most of the Bedouins are with them.  There’s no need for a majority.  There’s a need for a violent minority.  They want international condemnation of Israel, delegitimization and demonization.  This is exactly what the organizations funded by the NIF want.  This is way they endorse el-Issam and not Alukili.


The NIF may have good intentions.  But the NIF’s envoys are at the head of the front of the radicalization of the Bedouins’ positions, cooperating with anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist organizations which have no interest in the Bedouins’ plight.  NGO Monitor published a special report on this.  These are world-spanning activities.  The NIF chose to foster the fanatics.  The Bedouins and Israel are paying and will pay a high price for that. 


And another thing: Doron Almog, the director of the Headquarters for Economic and Community Development of the Negev Bedouin in the Prime Minister’s Office, has been considered the Bedouins’ representative for years.  He’s the best lobbyist they have.  He even drew criticism for that from my colleague Kalman Liebskind.  This week, Almog published an article in Ma’ariv making it clear that the demonstrations from last week were not in support of the Bedouins but against the existence of the State of Israel. 

*Published in part here at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs*


There are serious people in the NIF who want to see a better Israel.  They don’t know that the organization in which they are members is playing with fire.  In another few days, the radicals plan more demonstrations.  A minority that will try to set the land ablaze.  A dangerous minority made up of Islamists and Balad activists, with backing from NIF activists.  They should read Almog’s article.  And primarily, they should start taking action.


   In the wake of the column I published last week about Rabbis for Human Rights and Ha’aretz’s campaign of incitement against the State of Israel, I received, as expected, a torrent of criticism.  The replies tried to prove that the Bedouins have greater rights to their lands than those which the state authorizes them in various arrangements.


Nowhere did I write that we need to negate the Bedouins’ claims out of hand.  Although the court rejected Professor Yiftahel’s arguments in the matter of el-Arakib, the claims from the article co-written by Sandy Kedar and Ahmed Amara must be taken seriously.  Those claims deserve careful examination, not incitement.


Every research claim, academic or historic, also has a counterclaim.  Thus, for example, the spokesperson for RHR distributed information this week in response to my article, about how the pre-state Zionist movement bought land from the Bedouins.  And if the Zionist movement’s institutions recognized their claims of ownership then, then we must recognize them today as well.  Prof. Gideon Kressel, one of the most important experts in Bedouin studies, showed me a slightly different picture.  He told about the Finnish anthropologist Hilma Granqvist who published a research project dealing with the Arab village of Artas.

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  1. It is amazing that groups such as “Rabbis for Human Rights” and NIF who are not citizens of the State of Israel , which has a democratically elected government and it’s own very vocal opposition parties and spokespersons, should engage in anti state slander and activism. After all theses anti state activists safe in their own little idealistic worlds won’t have to live with the consequences of their actions as will the citizens of Israel. They do have the option of becoming citizens and participating in the democratic process if they so wish. I’m sure there are many Human Rights violations in the countries of which they are citizens that they can be active in. Just because they are co- religionists does not make their activism more holy or kosher. It does add substance to the cause of the Jew haters of the world who can justify their activism against Israel as not motivated by Jew hatred ,after all look at those anti Israel Jews. What is more galling is that these Jewish anti Israel activists like the old Jewish communists don’t want to see a Jewish State because they want to blend in and be citizens of the world. If they cared about the Erez Israel and it’s people of all ethnic origins, they would assure themselves of the facts and the realities as our esteemed editor has portrayed in this blog. NO that would not serve their purpose at all !!

    • Betty you echo my sentiments exactly. This is a constant complaint of mine and I object strongly that these ,who are trying to bring Israel to her knees,and are permitted to be part of the formal Community.

      You have the utterly vile and contemptible AJDS in Melbourne who are admitted as part of the JCCV.

      We have the President on the NIF in Sydney, who also just happens to be the Immediate Past President of the Board of Deps. The election of a new President can’t come quickly enough for most, as that means we will be rid of him.

      I don’t know which ‘old Jewish Communists’ you are speaking of, because my parents were both Communists and I was raised in a Communist home, where my father was an elected member of government as Communist for 25 years. My father grew up in Israel and loved Israel, as did my mother.

      My answer is “Just because Israel has some weird idea that they have to allow freedom of speech within the Community, we have to too.”

      As I see it, there is ‘free speech’ and there is FREE SPEECH

  2. Shirley, there is “free speech ” and there is vilification. The early communists I’m talking about predate the Zionist communists of eg Hashomer Hatzair. These were the early ideologues who saw communism and it’s anti religion the answer to anti semitism and where with the elimination of religion would come the elimination of anti semitism. Zionism would be anathema to this belief as is the Jewish state to the vilifiers because it means that they are identified as part of the hated tribe. So they have to be more righteous and more just than anyone else and leaders of the attack against that with which they do not want to be identified.

    • My parents were anti-religion but not anti Israel. Consequently my sister and I were raised in a very non-religious environment. I couldn’t help but be Jewish growing up in the shtetl of the East End of London. I grew up speaking Yiddish. The funny thing was though every year we went to an aunt for Seder. I pretty much know the Haggadah off by heart.

      I am Jewish to the core and never once even considered dating a non-Jewish guy

      • Shirlee , I have not expressed myself very well. I meant the original communists like Marx, Lenin and that generation who saw communism as liberating them from the tyranny of religious oppression with its espousal of principals of equality for all and the concept of citizens of the world without any nationalism. After all the Kibbutz movement was the foundation of Israel and the backbone of the Israeli army , obviously not all communists are anti Zionist and not all secular Jews are anti Israel. It’s just that the LEFT have evolved and have generally come to be aligned with all the anti Israel Jew hating elements. Also in America jews are afraid of being labelled “Israel Firsters” and disloyal to the US , so they have to prove their loyalty by being overly judgemental of Israel

      • Betty it’s not the Left per se that is the issue, it’s the Far Left, who I and many others call the loony Left.
        I know where you are coming form Betty, but British Communists were unlike the Communists elsewhere, really more Labour. Yes sure they saw Communism as a means of escape from the persecution of the old Soviet bloc countries.
        I can’t say I agree wit your take on American Jews.
        I find them a strange lot with their own brands of Judaism.

        An example. I was at the Ayalon Institute at Rehovot, thee was an American family doing the tour. Three children aged about 14, 12 and 10. I was gob-smacked to hear they had never heard of a kibbutz. Likewise with my friend, who lives in Israel. A Sydney sider actually.

        Maybe I am wrong and correct me if I am, I doubt any Jewish children here haven’t heard of a kibbutz.

  3. Hi Shirlee and Betty. Sorry to butt in on your chat about communism and etc, but I would like to make a few comments about the Bedouin and about the NIF.

    It is good theat the Bedouin are loyal Israelis (often [and when they are not, they are too often thieves]), but they are not indigenous and they have no claim to land. The fact that they have stolen land from the state does not establish title. That the Israeli government is making plans for their settlement, thus changing them from nomads to town dwellers has its merits and Israel should be congratulated for helping a disadvantaged group of its citizens. Those opposing the settlement plan and smearing Israel in the process should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

    Equaly importantly, Israeli governments should be condemned for their failure to break the backs of the NGOs. NGOs must only have causes; once they enter the poitical arena they should be closed down. NGOs are not advocacy groups, which is another category of organisation. Further, once a NGO receives funds from a government, it should be closed down, because it then becomes a foreign policy arm of that government or its agency. No government has a right to interfere in the internal affairs of any other country, especially one that is democratic. That the USA based NIF funds organisations that are anti-Zionistic and often antisemitic demonstrates its hostility to the Jewish state and Jews. It should be closed down in Israel and its funds should be confiscated as a penalty for its subversive activities. In Australia, we should denounce and ostracise the NIF and its pretend Zionist members.

    • Not all Bedouin are good friends of Israel. A good friend of mine just came back from the B of Deps Israel Mission. She said the Bedouin in the south are big trouble.The ones in the north are law abiding citizens who do army service and live honest lives.

      I will answer further tomorrow it’s very late.

  4. Hi Paul, thank for bringing the discussion back on track. I agree with all you say , particularly about the NGO s . Any other government would do exactly as you say. The Israeli government has so many people and groups both inside the country and outside who cry “nazi ” or “occupation” every time the government attempts to put in place some reform that it’s almost impossible to get at the truth because of the deliberate malfeasance of these very organised and vocal groups. Definitely NIF is one of those groups .
    The role of the media is also subversive in many cases.
    There is a marvellous video doing the rounds documenting the deliberate distortion and underplaying of the holacaust by the New York Times as the newspaper of note(not) . Of course there is the documentation by “Honest Reporting”. Showing the deliberate misrepresentation on all matters to do with Israel by The New York Times . This paper is quoted as a matter of course by most western media so if it is in the NYT it is considered reliable. Only it isn’t.

  5. Otto Waldmann

    My turn to butt in……

    Bedouins have been traditionally nomadic. The “mere” fact that they want to settle in an area they’d call their own is, in itself, a positive transition. The legality of the process would have to carry some challenges. Most of the challenges would relate to the other “mere” fact that the same Bedouins live by their own “laws”. Replacing that kind of “tradition” is much harder than changing from “wanderers” to “settled”. It will take some time.
    Bedouin loyalty to Israel is a completely different topic and their administrative resistance has nothing to do with it.

    NIF is an NGO which has attracted a certain variety of ideologies, some seemingly contradictory. Here we deal with degrees of alternating loyalties and respective dominance.
    The “composite” rhetoric employed in a statutory manner by NIF has deceit as its main tactic.
    Even the “origin” of its leaders in the past and even present have some confusing strands.
    Formerly a MK with Zionist credentials managed to attract adherence from naifs. Farcically claiming God Terms, such as ” democracy”, “human rights”, ” balanced and viable democratic values, guaranteeing a stable Israel” etc., attracted a number of “expired” Jewish personalities and former communal identities/leaders. In the mix the same NIF engrossed their numbers by “ideological osmosis” with known detractors of Zionism, perhaps just to uphold THAT democratic, non-selective criteria of a “weltanschaaung” of unlimited tolerance.
    The NIF phenomenon is one dominated by FRUSTRATIONS of the complementing kind.
    Jewish “lefties” ( we shall define them minutely later..), joined minds with former leaders or Communal officers with residual energies, relegated to unwanted and, therefore, painful and undignified redundancy.
    Alternative notions of running a State of all Jews for all Jews sprung with the intensity of the worst bottled up Freudian “reflations”. The intransigence of the NIF capos, their unwillingness AND disability of public dialectics, replaced strictly by stern ex catedra statements, has become the tactics of an organisation unwilling to engage in open disputes, but determined to chase its course completely oblivious of any criticism. NIF function out there in the open , but as a tightly closed society, unaccountable to its critics, staunchly following a trajectory, a strategy , a programme which profits from loopholes in the generosity of democratic-political-corectness of an Israel terrified of being pilloried as, G-d forbid………un-democratic.
    They abuse everything on the fringes of morality, sailing s close on the winds of distaste by a much larger Communal contingent.

    In Australia NIF started with a medium size bang, it had irritated the politically concerned in the Community, it had attracted the usual suspects, it had planted loud and annoying loud-speakers in strategic places and, at this juncture, it had reached its Communal plateau.
    NIF’s future in Australia has NO future.
    Priorities in Israel are placing its relevance on gradually lower rungs of acceptability and influence. All in all, a natural melting into an inevitable demise.
    Yet, we cannot expect “history” to take it own course without giving It our needed assistance.
    NIF must be revealed at all times in its true, unwanted colours, just as Paul, Shirlee, Betty and an occasional long-winded Vulach ( that’s what we Romanians are known as ) may offer.

    • Otto Waldmann

      ………..I must correct one of the many typos. Pls read “refulations”, an obsessive Freudian term which very aptly defines ALL NIF blokes and sheilas I encountered in my wonderings.
      I do not pitty them simply because pitty requires some kind of concern, even affection. If NIF would have been less aggressive, less obtuse, less arrogant, more intellectually expansive, I would have felt sorry for their state of anger cum irrational disposition to phenomena their seem so cardinally incapable to comprehend. This is to simply say that there is a clear element of stupidity in all NIF people I have encountered. In addition, NONE of them have displyed the most minuscule modicum of humour. A typical NIF deovotee could not recite even that idiotic story of the chiken crossing the road without having a fit of deep depression.

      One of the features common, I reckon mandatory for all NIF allowed to rear their headless heads publicly, is that they all follow with incredible exactness the same mantra when writing idiotic stuff about their “values”. Oblivious to basic rules of logic and reality presented as IS, all NIF regurgitate the same verse and chapter of their learnt by heart absurdities.
      There is no variation in the text between any of the formal “voices” of NIF.
      This alone makes rebutting them so easy and they simply…………don’t get it.
      I simply love it. NIF has benn, actually, my favourite , most inspiring verbal punch-bag. They have kept me active and energised. For THAT I thank NIF. Yet, they have done their stuff, have finished their “part”, just as Otello, and now’s about time they buggered off.

      More funny stuff about these Communal irritants in instalments to follow…………..

  6. The video I referred to is to be found in both “the Israel Mazav “and the “Elder of Zion” blogs

  7. Betty it’s not the Left per se that is the issue, it’s the Far Left, who I and many others call the loony Left.”>>>>>>>

    Yes unfortunately too many of these looney leftists Palestinian apologists are running our Jewish community organizations., museums ,Academia , Student bodies . Even our Synagogues where leftist Rabbis at our suburban Shules have become more politicians than religious figures and try to ram their leftist so called Human Rights bullshit down the throats of their congregants. …

  8. Yes the LEFT( loony if you will ) seem to claim a monopoly on ” human rights” . That Is that they are the only ones who support this concept. The only problem is that neither Israel nor Jews have any rights in their version. Nor does Israel have the right to Self Defence against terrorism or if we follow the illogic of their rhetoric, Israel does not even have the right to exist as a Jewish State. If they supported a Jewish State then heaven forbid they might be labelled “Zionists”