As organizations within the Jewish community, we stand together to reject Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s baseless and ugly attack on the New Israel Fund (NIF).
The prime minister blamed NIF for somehow scuttling the agreement he claimed to have struck with the Rwandan Government for it to take in asylum seekers forcibly deported from Israel. But the attack was a transparent attempt to deflect Israeli public pressure over his own moral and policy failures.
There are some 37,000 people seeking asylum in Israel whose lives are now in limbo. They deserve to have their cases for asylum reviewed and to live their lives and raise their families in safety. Israel can solve this problem in conjunction with the international community.
For forty years, NIF has been a central organ of the American Jewish community, bringing together Americans and Israelis into partnership for the purpose of furthering the values that the Jewish heritage has given us — justice, equality, tolerance, peace and democracy. NIF has always been a voice for the values articulated in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
The prime minister’s broadside did not happen in isolation. It is the most recent of a number of blows that target the foundations of Israeli democracy. We have cause to worry that these foundations may begin to crumble. Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of his cabinet have also engaged in efforts to undermine the legitimacy and the independence of the Israeli judiciary, the national police and the press. They have sought to restrict the religious rights of non-Orthodox Jews. And they have deepened the occupation — a fundamentally unjust, undemocratic, and un-Jewish reality that poses an existential threat to Israel’s future.
We stand united in rejecting the prime minister’s attacks on NIF and on other members of Israel’s civil society.