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Peace Now condemns attacks on New Israel Fund

Feb. 1, 2010 8:18 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 2, 2010 2:56 P.M.)
Washington – Ma'an – Israel's Peace Now movement and Americans for Peace Now on Monday condemned attacks on the New Israel Fund, which has come under fire for funding human rights organizations whose reports appeared in South African jurist Richard Goldstone's UN report on Gaza.

In recent days, a right-wing Israeli organization, Im Tirzu, launched a campaign to discredit the fund, its chair, Naomi Chazan, and some of its grantee organizations, including attacks against Chazan in newspaper ads that show the former Knesset Member with a horn on her forehead.

The controversy apparently began after the Hebrew-language daily Maariv ran an article over the weekend accusing the US-based progressive fund of supporting human rights groups whose findings appeared in the final report of Goldstone's fact-finding mission.

Peace Now and Americans for Peace Now said in a joint statement that they "are deeply disturbed by the content of this campaign and shocked by its style, which is reminiscent of dark times in our people's history."

The groups added: "The NIF grantees that are quoted in the UN report on Operation Cast Lead were performing their duty as Israeli human rights organizations by monitoring and reporting on controversial policies of their government and their military. Such human rights organizations are an integral part of any vibrant democracy and as such, they are an integral – and vital – part of Israel's civil society."

Peace Now is Israel's leading peace movement. APN is America's leading Jewish peace organization.

The groups further stated that the fund is an asset to Israel's democracy, including its grantee organizations. "Attempts to silence them should not be tolerated by the Israeli public and by friends of a free and democratic Israel worldwide," the movements said.

"We call on all Israelis and on American friends of Israel to join us in denouncing and rejecting these contemptuous attempts to muzzle Israel's civil society groups, to quell dissenting voices in Israeli society and to demonstrate civility when discussing and debating issues of public policy," the joint statement concluded.

Meanwhile, the pro-Israel group J Street said it was "gravely concerned about escalating threats to the character of Israel's democracy," according to a statement, which condemned the "new attacks on organizations defending its democratic values and on individuals exercising their basic democratic rights."

"Im Tirtzu’s political leanings are clear," J Street added. "This is a pro-settler group, with $100,000 of funding from Christians United For Israel, a conservative Christian Zionist organization run by Pastor John Hagee, who once stated that God sent Hitler to drive Jews to Israel.

J Street called on Im Tirtzu to immediately pull the ads that are part of "this shameful new campaign."

The US lobby group added that the campaign is just the latest example "of a perfect storm brewing" that threatens the core of what it called Israel’s democratic character.

"Pro-Israel Americans should stand up for Israeli democracy, not work to actively undermine it. We call on Americans who care about the character and quality of Israel’s democracy and civil society to join us in calling on Im Tirtzu to cease their despicable campaign," the statement concluded.
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