J Street Responds to Attacks on New Israel Fund

February 1, 2010

Today, J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement in response to recent attacks against the New Israel Fund and its president, Naomi Chazan:

J Street is gravely concerned about escalating threats to the character of Israel’s democracy – including vicious, new attacks on organizations defending its democratic values and on individuals exercising their basic democratic rights.

This weekend, an organization called Im Tirtzu launched an outrageous campaign viciously attacking New Israel Fund President and former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Naomi Chazan in a style reminiscent of propaganda from the darkest days of recent Jewish experience, depicting Chazan with a horn on her head and holding her personally responsible for the contents of the Goldstone Report. Im Tirtzu’s political leanings are clear.

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. Funds collected for Im Tirtzu in the United States are directed through a New York City-based charity which funds construction over the Green Line. J Street calls on Im Tirtzu to immediately pull the ads that are part of this shameful new campaign. Their campaign is but the latest example of a perfect storm brewing that threatens the core of Israel’s democratic character.

One can clearly connect the dots between what’s happening in Sheikh Jarrah and to women at the Kotel to this latest ugly attack against this former Knesset member with a distinguished record of service to Israel. Israel should be a symbol of Jewish and democratic values in action. It was founded with a strong commitment to the values of justice, equality, and democracy that are core to the Jewish people. An attack – such as the unconscionable ads run by Im Tirtzu – on those who would defend that vision of Israel is an attack on all of us who hold these values dear. 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.