Monday, June 12, 2017

By Petra Marquardt-Bigman

According to a recent report published at Tablet, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has supported “groups working to advance a boycott of the world’s only Jewish state” with “at least $880,000” since 2013, and this support for BDS advocates “is virtually unique among major American institutional funders.”

It is interesting to note in this context that in 2013, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) listed ten of the “worst of the worst” groups engaged in vicious anti-Israel activism that seeks to de-legitimize the Jewish state as “the worst violator of international human rights.” Among the groups listed by the ADL is the misleadingly named Jewish Voice for Peace – which received $140,000 from RBF in 2015.

RBF’s funding for groups dedicated to demonizing the world’s only Jewish state has been repeatedly exposed and criticized. A year ago, Ziva Dahl of the Haym Salomon Center wondered why “the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a premier philanthropy based in Manhattan” would “finance non-governmental organizations intent on annihilating the Jewish state,” but apparently, no one at RBF could be bothered to answer this question.

It seems that Tablet’s Armin Rosen was luckier. As Rosen rightly points out: “RBF has given money to groups that serve mutually reinforcing purposes within the BDS movement’s ecosystem, targeting a variety of publics within a range of political, social, national, and even religious contexts. It is impossible to argue that these grants are being made without the advancement of BDS in mind.” And indeed, RBF’s president Stephen Heintz was only too happy to justify the funding for BDS groups: 
“Given that the occupation has continued for 50 years and there have been numerous failed efforts to negotiate peace, we are looking for ways to disrupt this status quo […] and some of our grantees, a relatively small number, are either groups that have officially endorsed the BDS campaign, or undertake some related forms of what we might call economic activism in order to protest the ongoing occupation.”

Right, Mr. Heintz, let’s call it “economic activism” – and let’s recall who was among the first to advocate this kind of “economic activism” as a form of “war by other means” almost 90 years ago. As Professor William Jacobson has pointed out, “BDS is a direct and provable continuation of the Arab anti-Jewish boycotts in the 1920s and 1930s and [the] subsequent Arab League Boycott, restructured through non-governmental entities to evade U.S. anti-boycott legislation and repackaged in the language of ‘social justice’ to appeal to Western liberals.” A JTA report from September 1929 – published a month after the notorious Hebron massacre and the subsequent Arab violence that left 133 Jews dead – reveals the strategy of Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had incited the violence, and who was now advocating the kind of “economic activism” that RBF president Stephen Heintz is happy to support.

Under the title “‘My Hands Are Clean,’ Grand Mufti Asserts in Interview,” the report shows that the man who would eventually become known as “Hitler’s Mufti” felt rather confident that the Jews would soon be forced to leave British Mandate Palestine. He asserted (rightly) that “it is untrue that the world is siding with the Jews” and then proceeded to explain: “We are … assured of the solidarity of the entire Moslem world and have actually offers of armies to help us if necessary. Help is unnecessary. We will win through an economic boycott. The boycott in Moslem countries against Jewish industries is tight and daily growing tighter, until the industries will be broken.” The mufti expected that eventually, the “English friends” of the Jews would be “moved by pity” and would proceed to “remove the last remaining Jews [from British Mandate Palestine] on their battleships.”
According to another report from 1948 – which called the mufti “Hitler of the Holy Land” and described him as “a master of terrorism” – al-Husseini explained that “the sword of Islam” had been “unsheathed in Palestine” because the “fighting in Palestine has been inevitable since the first Jew set foot there.”

While the mufti was surely disappointed that his economic boycott and the “unsheathed … sword of Islam” were not able to “remove” the Jews from their ancient homeland during his lifetime, he couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams that in the 21st century, there would be groups like “Jewish Voice for Peace” celebrating Palestinian terrorists and enthusiastically campaigning for BDS with the generous support of a renowned philanthropic foundation in the US. 

Just how cynical the RBF officials responsible for BDS funding are becomes apparent when Rosen asked Ariadne Papagapitos, director of the RBF Peacebuilding Program, “if she understood why some Jews would find it problematic that RBF funded organizations that believed Israel’s existence to be dispensable or undesirable—like JVP, Zochrot, and other pro-BDS grantees do.” According to Rosen, this “didn’t bother” Papagapitos in the least; as she explained: “I think what is most problematic is that there would be a monopoly on the solution or on what the correct approaches are […] And so long as they are striving for the same kind of peaceful and just values or values of justice and peace for the region and for all people, then I think that’s OK, and I don’t see what makes Zochrot or JVP any less Jewish than a different Jewish group.”

The ADL has noted that “JVP uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and to provide the movement with a veneer of legitimacy,” and apparently, Papagapitos is more than happy to hide behind the “shield” provided by JVP. When it comes to Israel, Papagapitos is all for diversity of opinion: who would want “a monopoly on the solution or on what the correct approaches are” when there is an opportunity to fund people who work so hard to make the case that the world’s only Jewish state is too evil to be allowed to exist?

So presumably, Ms. Papagapitos can see nothing wrong with the “solution” favored by prominent BDS advocate Omar Barghouti, who gloated in a programmatic essay published during the murderous Al-Aqsa Intifada at Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada:

The current phase has all the emblematic properties of what may be considered the final chapter of the Zionist project. We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.” [Emphasis original]

As far as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is concerned, people advocating “euthanasia” for Zionism – i.e. for the world’s only Jewish state – are worthy recipients of philanthropic funding: according to Tablet, Al-Shabaka – which lists both BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti and ardent Hamas fan Ali Abunimah as “policy advisors” – has received “$130,000 from RBF since 2013,” and Rosen rightly notes that this sum is “an important backstop for an organization that reported $127,000 in total revenue in its 2014 tax filings.”

The former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has pointed out that “[in] the middle ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, they were hated because of their race. In the twenty first century, they are hated because of their nation state. Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism.” And it’s not so surprising that in the twenty first century, this new anti-Semitism is legitimized as worthy of philanthropic funding – after all, for anti-Semites, “philia,”i.e. love, for “anthropos,”man or mankind, has never included the Jews. 

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