Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
October 17, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 19     (19 of 36 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 19     (19 of 36 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
October 17, 2003

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 17, 2003 PAGE 19 Activists Continued from page 1 mate apartheid, colonial and genocidal regime. Moreover, the proposed lan- guage of conference resolu- or dilute the Holocaust and espouse an openly anti-Semitic stance. Many Western leaders, in- U.S. Secretary of State Powell, declined to at- tend what U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), a member of the American delegation to the conference, termed "a transparent attempt to de- le- gitimize the moral argument for Israel's existence." As ex- anti-Israel agitation, countries, as well as a review of more than 9,000 pages of government and organiza- tional documents. Ford--which was endowed with funds donated by Henry and Edsel Ford but no longer maintains any ties to the Ford Motor Company- has long been known as a funder of Palestinian causes. But most observers did not suspect the extent of the foundation's involvement in funding of groups that en- gage in anti-Zionist, anti- Semitic and pro-Palestinian activities both inside and out- side the Middle East. With hundred of millions of dollars being pumped into Mideast NGOs by numerous anti-Zionist propaganda and private foundations here and , blatantanti-Semitismperme- in Europe, government and ated the eight-day Durbanaf-communal officials are rais- fair. Posters displaying Nazi ing significant questions and Jewish caricatures, protest marches, jeering, inciting and anti-Jewish car- toons were everywhere, as was /Orchestrated anti-American agitation. A virulent resolution drafted by non-governmental organizations at the Durban COnference declared Israel a "racist apartheid state" guilty of "genocide and ethnic cleansing." The spectacle was so noxious that Powell with- drew the American delega- tion. Who financed a number of groups at Durban that and distributed these materials, purchased adver- ring and conducted work- "No one knew where the was from to "remem- bers Judith Palkovil z of Pitts- burgh, Hadassah general sec- and a delegate to "I assumed it was a )reign group--say Saudi one Jew- communal leader after and several State officials, also guessed: Saudi Arabia. They were wrong. The Ford Foundation, one largest philan- aropic institutions--and ar- prestigious--- a multimillion-dollar p human rights attending Durhan. That is the conclusion of a .t -month JTA investigation, interviewswith doz- of individuals in seven about transparency, how the money in Palestinian areas is being used and whether funders such as the Ford Foundation are exercising proper controls. Increasingly, federal agen- cies concerned with fighting terrorism are asking: When money goes in one NGO's pocket, where does it go and whom does it benefit? The Jewish representatives at Durban "didn't understand the efforts, the financing and the organization that went into hijacking the confer- ence," recalls Reva Price, Washington representative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and a Durban delegate. "We knew we were walking into problems because of what happened in the early meet- ing in Teheran," Price said. "But we didn't understand how organized the opposition and what aweli-financed cam- paign it was." Many Jewish organizational officials who participated in the long pro- cess complained that a key organization responsible for the methodical hijacking of the conference was the Pales- tinian Committee for the Pro- tection of Human Rights and the Environment, which op- erates under the acronym LAW. LAW officials took leader- ship positions on the Durban conference steering commit- tees, conducted workshops and even sponsored a pre-con- ference mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip for South African delegates, to convince them that Israel was an apart- heid state. "LAW was instrumental in creating the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic focus at Durban," confirmed Andrew Srulevitch, executive director of U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based group that monitors the world organization. But it was not just LAW. The Palestinian NGO Network, or PNGO, an umbrella organi- zation of some 90 Palestinian NGOs, as well as many of its constituent groups, diligently became embedded in the con- ference bureaucracy that cre- ated the hostile environment at Durban. PNGO led the move to craft an NGO resolution that would "call upon the international community to impose a policy ofcompleteand total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state," including "the imposition of mandatory and comprehen- sive sanctions and embargoes, [and] the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military coopera- tion and training) between all states and Israel." Durban was not a one-time investment for the Ford Foundation--a ma- jor funder of LAW and PNGO. Indeed, through its Cairo office, Ford has extended more than $35 million in grants to some 272 Arab and Palestin- ian organizations during the two- year 2000-2001 period alone--the most recent years for which data is available-- plus 62 grants to individuals which total more than $1.4 million. Since the 1950s, the foundation's Beirut and Cairo offices have awarded more than $193 million to more than 350 Middle East organi- zations, almost entirely Arab, Islamic or Palestinian. Ford's Web site, at, offers de- tailed information about its Middle East grants. On the site as of mid-October, "Palestine" is frequently mentioned on its Mideast pages, but Israel's name is absent. Moreover, the Web site's shaded map of the geographi- cal region from Egypt to Leba- non and Jordan blanks out over Israel's territory, even though Ford does make grants to both Jewish and Arab organizations in Jerusalem. Initially, despite more than two dozen requests by phone and in writing over a period of several weeks, the Ford Foundation's communica- tionsvice presidentAlexWilde, deputy media director Thea Lurie and media associate Joe Voeller refused to answer any questions or clarify any issues regarding the foundation's funding of groups engaged in anti-Israeli agitation and anti- Semitic or anti-Zionist activ- ity. However, after this investi- gation was completed, Wilde did send a six- page written statement, declaring,'He have seen no indication that our grantees in Durban or else- where engaged in anti-Semitic speech or activities. The Foun- dation does not support hate speech of any kind." Wilde added: "Some of our human rights and development grant- ees have certainly been criti- cal of policies and practices of the Israeli government inso- far as these discriminate against Palestinians or other- wise violate their rights, ac- cording to internationally agrei d human rights stan- dards and international law." "We do not believe that this can be described as 'agitation,'" the statement asserted. Both LAW and PNGO con- firmed that their Ford funds were pivotal. "Ford has made it possible for us to do much ofourwork," a senior LAWofficial in Jerusa- lem said in aft interview. Since 1997, LAW has been the recipient of three Ford grants, totaling $1.1 million, to engage in "advocacy" and participate at international conferences, according to LAW officials. A Ford Foundation official's check of the charity's confidential computer data- bases confirmed the informa- tion. Reached in Ramallah on her cell phone, PNGO program coordinator Renad Qubaj re- called her coordination of ac- tivities in Durban. "In Durban, for sure we pub- l i[hed posters saying, 'End the occupation,' things like that," Qubaj said, "and we published a study, had a press confer- ence, organized our partners and protest marches." Asked about finances, she added, "Un- fortunately we are very depen- dent on the international funds. Not just PNGO but all the Palestinian NGOs--90 of them in our group. We get very little money from the Ar- abs---just needy family cases. Ford is our biggest funder." Allam Jarrar, a member of the ll-person PNGO steering committee network, and one who helped organize the events at Durban, explained that Ford money allows PNGO to have a glo oal scope. "We do lots of international advocacy conferences and re- gional forums," Jarrar ex- plained in an interview, "and we always try to represent our political view to Europe. We attended some women's con- ferences [in Europe], plus Durban." "Our biggest dona- tions come, of course, from Ford," Jarrar added. "We have been in partner- ship with Ford for a long time--a real partnership, a real understanding of our needs. "Of course, when we go to an international conference, we try to get extra funds from one of their special budgets," Jarrar said. "Or sometimes the conferences' organizers, if they have their own Ford Founda- tion funding, they send us the finances to attend." From 1999 to 2002, PNGO received a se- ries of Ford grants totaling $q.4 million, plus a $270,000 supplement, according to an examination of the Ford Foundation's IRS Form 990 filings, Web site databases and annual reports. PNGO continues to receive at least $350,000 annually from Ford, according to the data. LAWand PNGO were hardly the only Ford-backed groups at Durban. The conference was a major enterprise for the Ford Foun- dation. In a Ford Web site com- mentary written prior to Durban, Bradford Smith, Ford's vice president for peace and social justice, wrote that the conference's issues were "at the core of the Ford Foundation's mission since its inception." More than a dozen activist organizations--from Brazil to Sri Lank a--received well over $1 million in Ford grants specifically earmarked for the production of advertis- ing materials, public meetings and advocacy at the Durban conference. "Does all this mobilizing, networking and drafting of statements have real impact on people's lives?" Smith asked in the statement. His answer: Yes, "because for years to come they [Ford grantees] and the foundation will work together to implement the [Durban] Conference Plan of Action." Since the Durban conference, LAW has continued its public crusade against Israel and Zi- onism, and PNGO, as well as many of its 90 members, con- tinue organizing efforts to try Israeli officials as war crimi- nals, boycott the Jewish state and label Israel a racist, ille- gitimate state that must be stripped of its Jewish identity. While a number of the Ford- financed organizations at Durban, such as LAW and PNGO, engaged in anti-Israel and anti-Zionist agitation, cer- tainly many did not. Either way, Ford Founda- tion money, as intended, was a prime mover in the produc- tion of the advocacy pam- phlets, posters, workshops and other materials at the confer- ence that shaped the overall atmosphere. "I saw the Ford representa- tive at Durban," remembers Paikovitz, the Hadassah del- egate, who spotted him in con- nection with African Ameri- can reparations issues. "There was no way to miss the anti- Semitism. The Ford guywould have to be blind. It was the most anti-Semitic and anti- Zionist stuff you ever saw. "I told the Ford representa- tive I thought it was a mistake because the whole meeting was being hijacked," she re- lated. "He disagreed. He said he believed what the confer- ence was doing was correct." "We are struck," said David Harris, executive director of theAmerican Jewish Commit- tee, "by the scores of Palestin- ian NGOs funded by Ford, a number of which have deeply disturbing and troubling records on Israel and Jews." Edwin Black is the author of the newly released "War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race" (Four Walls Eight Windows), which investigates corporate philan- thropic involvement in Ameri- can and Nazi eugenics. In May 2003, he won the American Society of Journalists and Au- thors' award for best book of the year for his previous book, "IBM and the Holocaust" (Crown Publishing, 2001). The remainder of this JTA investigative series on Ford Foundation funding can be read in next week's"Heritage." Continued from page 3 $42,000 from Jewish Agency---25 per- percent a loan for things such as and horses. lie must begin repaying the after 10 all e money must be gamble appears to be off. already has a con- to sell his Merlot, Shiraz harvests 10 years to one of largest wineries. who have left Israel's for give varying rea- but most the Zionist spirit of pio- my dream to do some- like this," says Ronni 34, who moved :year to Merhav Am, a new community in the In addition to giving the "romantic feeling of being set- tiers," the move is a "suitable solution to the matsav," Ben- Chaim says, using the Hebrew word for "situation" that is commonly used to describe the impact of the Palestinian intifada on Israel. The community of 16 fami- lies and some singles is a clus- ter of mobile homes with a chapel and two kindergartens. The closest grocery is in Beersheba, 30 minutes away. But the open space is "like heaven" for his children, Ben- Chaim says. He says it was refreshing to be in a place without so much police and security personnel. Findingworkin this remote location is difficult. But Ben- Chaim, who used to work in Tel Aviv and is now unem- ployed, has faith. "If you do something good that goes together with the Torah, you will find your way to survive," he says. Eli Kar, director of commu- nity settlement at Merhav Am, was looking for a remote re- gion in which to live. Fear of terrorist attacks prompted him to settle within the "Green Line'--the boundary that di- vides Israel proper from the West Bank, captured from Jor- dan in 1967--instead of be- yond it. A renewed spirit of pioneer- ing also brought others to Merhav Am, Kar believes. Each family pays about $225 per month to live in the devel- opment, which is subsidized in part by the Jewish Agency. Beyond housing, the Jew- ish Agency has helped support many facilities in the Negev to make the region more appeal- ing. For example, it has helped finance Neve Midbar, a health spa boasting three "mineral pools, massage treatmentsand a backyard-cum-disco that youth take to at night. Another major agency ben- eficiary is the Sapir educa- tional complex, which features an academic college, commu- nity courses--about 3 percent of the 7,000 students are Bedouin--elderly day care and a sophisticated hydrotherapy center with high-tech water treatments for ailments like lower- back pain. But the plan to bring more Jews to the region has sparked some controversy. Establishing new Jewish communities in the Negev will anger the Bedouin Arabs, says Devorah Brous, founder and director of Bustan L'Shalom, an Israeli Arab-Jewish envi- ronmental justice group. "A new form of an intifada will erupt from inside the country at having vast land tracts confiscated against the will of the population," Brous says. She also is concerned that such developments further the "social disparity" between the region's Jews, who live in com- fortable communities, and the Bedouin, many of whom live in villages that are not recog- nized and are poorly serviced by the government, she says. "It's not a matter of Bedouin or Jew," the Jewish Agency spokesman, Yarden Vatikay, says of the development project. "If you bring more people there and you try to bring the infrastructure and hopefully work," then "everyone will benefit from it," he says. According to the Jewish Agency, all the land is owned by the state, so none of it is beingconfiscated from private owners. "What is happening now is that the terms of reference of who has the right to develop what piece of land is being brought to the table," Jankelowitz says. Ra'anan Gissin, Sharon's spokesman, says one of the government's main projects for the Negev over the next 10 years includes resettling the nomadic Bedouin in autho- rized settlements, where they "can have decent living condi- tions." But Amer Abuhani, project manager of the Bedouin regional council of unrecognized villages, says they don't want to move. The plan was decided with- out consulting the local Bedouin population, says Abuhani, coordinator of Fo- rum B'yachad, a coalition of more than 30 Jewish and Arab groups that oppose the Negev development plan. Townships are "not suitable for our tradition. We are more open people who try to live in traditional ways" and in small communities. Epstein, the new rancher, says that relations with the neighboring Bedouin are frag- ile. Tensions rose three years ago with the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada. "This house of cards can fall at any minute," he says. JTA staff writer Rachel Pomerance recently visited Kiev and Israel on a trip that was partially sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel.