A group of young adults on a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel visit the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa. Photo: Facebook
Two efforts to erode American support for Israel have been launched over the last six months by the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) with financial backing from the prominent Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), The Algemeiner has learned.
Through its new #ReturnTheBirthright campaign, JVP is urging Jewish young adults to forgo a free, 10-day educational tour of Israel with Taglit-Birthright, “because it is fundamentally unjust that we are given a free trip to Israel, while Palestinian refugees are barred from returning to their homes.” Since its inception in 1999, Birthright has sent some 500,000 Jewish youths to Israel, with support from the Israeli government, the Jewish Federations of North America, and individual donors.
JVP’s latest initiative — kicked off as college students started their fall semester and registration opened for Birthright’s winter tours — came not long after the group rolled out its controversial “Deadly Exchange” effort in April. That campaign partially blamed cooperation between American and Israeli law enforcement officials for “discriminatory and repressive policing” against people of color in both countries, and condemned “US-based Jewish organizations” for “making this deadly exchange possible.”
The charge was strongly denounced by the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights group that sends senior US security officials to Israel for counter-terrorism training. The ADL noted that JVP used “language to describe American Jewish organizations that veers uncomfortably close to age-old antisemitic canards about Jews using their influence to undermine the societies of the countries in which they live.”
While JVP is not transparent about its funding network, the watchdog group NGO Monitor found that its biggest donor is the RBF, which began backing JVP in 2015 with a two-year, $140,000 grant. The fund awarded JVP a similar two-year grant for “peacebuilding” in June of this year, less than three months after JVP introduced its “Deadly Exchange” campaign.
“Recent JVP campaigns have morphed into direct and unmistakable antisemitism, which should lead funders like Rockefeller Brothers Fund to cease any contacts or support,” NGO Monitor president Professor Gerald Steinberg told The Algemeiner.
Ambassador Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, tweeted on Sunday that he showed Stephen B. Heintz, the president of RBF, evidence that “they fund NGOs that condone terror & deny Israel’s right to exist. He couldn’t care less.”
“An organization that truly promotes peace and justice cannot keep the company of apologists and enablers of terrorism,” Dayan told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “When the Rockefeller Brothers Fund promotes radical, fringe groups in the US and abroad, they become the problem they seek to fix.”
“JVP and Grassroots Jerusalem, among a number of other groups supported by the Fund, mask their violent and undemocratic goals in the language of social justice,” he added. “Promoting violence against Israelis, applauding those who commit acts of terror such as Rasmea Odeh (a Palestinian terrorist who helped plant a bomb in a Jerusalem market in 1969), and actively seeking the dissolution of our democratic state will achieve nothing but the continuation of the conflict.”
Repeated requests for comment from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund were unanswered by press time.