Recently, the United States ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, sharply criticized Israel's settlements and its West Bank policy, saying, “Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities, too much vigilantism goes unchecked and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians."
His comments set the stage for the challenge that came to the United Nations one week later. Not long ago Israel had a reliable friend at the United Nations; the U.S. As a permanent member of the Security Council, our country helped keep enemies at bay and vetoed hateful resolutions against the Jewish State. But recent years have seen the most hostile American administration towards Israel, and Israel’s battles have become somewhat more solitary than they once were.
Ban’s comments, "Give a tailwind to terrorism," Prime Minister Netanyahu retorted.
The United Nations opposing Israel is not surprising – nor is the usual rancor in the hall of nations where Israel is routinely vilified and sanctioned with more resolutions raised and passed than any other issue or nation. Yet, the one blow that is surprising is that the United States joined the bandwagon and issued an unusually stern criticism of Israel.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha PowerSamantha Power134 foreign policy experts condemn Trump travel ban How will history judge Obama’s actions in Syria? Russia's ambassador to the United Nations dies MORE joined, saying the U.S. "strongly opposes" settlement activity, and that they are "fundamentally incompatible with the two-state solution and raises legitimate questions about Israel's long-term intentions."
Unnoticed by the world’s media was a speech made one day after Shapiro's comments. Tawfiq Al-Tirawi of Fatah’s Central Committee told the Maan News Agency that a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, was "just a phase" of an ongoing struggle. He stated his position that Palestine "stretches from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," and he challenged, “any Palestinian to say that the map of Palestine is limited to the West Bank and Gaza."
Both, Shapiro’s and Powers' comments ignore the basic issue that Israel’s neighbors, as stated clearly by Fatah’s Al-Tirawi, are not interested in peace. Senior Obama administration officials have been hinting that Israel will not have a loyal ally anymore if it does not do exactly what the president wants.
Not by coincidence, this rise in American pressure on Israel over the settlements is precisely the focus of the steady work during the past decade of left-wing extremist organizations, led by the New York-based New Israel Fund (NIF) which funnels $30 million annually to organizations that support BDS and actively oppose the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
NIF has been clamoring against the State of Israel, and has established itself as a funder of many groups that engage in anti-Israel activities. Whether it is Adalah promoting lawfare, B’Tselem promoting Israel as an apartheid state, HaMoked providing flawed and erroneous data toward the damaging and now debunked Goldstone report, or Breaking the Silence issuing edited testimonies from soldiers about the 2014 Gaza operation, concluding Israel intentionally targeted non-combatants, NIF’s money and support is at the center.
In November the European Union decided that products from the territories obtained as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War had to be labeled as having come an occupied area.
NIF boycotts settlements of Israel, and their words have paved the way for Obama’s July 2015 Trade Promotion Authority legislation exception, as stated by State Department spokesperson John Kirby: “[B]y conflating Israel and 'Israeli-controlled territories,' a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity.”
The European Union’s decision is also on par with NIF's.
NIF’s supporters are American Jews who believe that these methods of delegitmizing Israel and its people is helpful. They support groups such as J-Street and NIF, and have made it so that the administration can claim support from the Jewish community. Obama's surprise video-appearance at the NIF conference last month in New York is indicative of the weight the group can pull.
It does not seem to matter that leaders of this group were recently implicated for being part of a scheme to kill Palestinians who sold land to Jews. "Humanitarian” Ezra Nawi was caught bragging about his role in the demise of Palestinian landowners and arrested for it, and he was on the payroll of Rabbis for Human Rights, and getting money from Breaking the Silence. The actions of Nawi’s partner in crime, a B'Tselem worker named Nasser Nawaj'ah, also raised few eyebrows among NIF supporters.
The truth falls on deaf ears and the damage they have done for years is having the impact they so desperately want.
When there is no one calling out Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas when he proclaims, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one [Jew] in it,” as they claim Israel is promoting apartheid, NIF has done its job.
The past several months have been difficult on Israeli citizens, as terrorists run amok stabbing and shooting people at random. Abbas calls these people “heroic,” and Ban Ki-Moon suggests it is Israel’s fault, and two U.S. ambassadors suggest the same. That too is the NIF doing its job.
In an election year, when he is trying to secure his legacy and his successor, it may be risky for the president to completely abandon Israel in the United Nations. If that is the only reason Israel still has its support, the New Israel Fund has done its job.
Torossian, a public relations executive, is a former spokesperson for the Likud Party of Israel, and author of “For Immediate Release.”