Rightist group demands local politicians disclose ties to New Israel Fund

Im Tirtzu says for sake of transparency liberal candidates in local elections must detail their relations to ‘foreign political body’

Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, attends a Knesset discussion on 'Breaking the Silence' organization's presence in Israeli schools on December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, attends a Knesset discussion on 'Breaking the Silence' organization's presence in Israeli schools on December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ahead of October elections to Israel’s local authorities, a right-wing organization is demanding that candidates disclose their ties to the New Israel Fund.

Multiple candidates throughout the country have reported receiving letters of inquiry from Im Tirtzu, seeking clarification on their relationship to the left-leaning NGO, Hadashot news reported on Friday.

The letter was sent to dozens of candidates who are identified with liberal values and who have campaigned on such platforms, and who have thus been endorsed by left-wing groups, the TV report said.

“From information brought to our attention it appears that the New Israel Fund — a foreign political body serving as the largest umbrella group for de-legitimization organizations — views you as representing its positions in the local elections,” the letter reads. “We are checking whether this is indeed true.”

Im Tirtzu confirmed the letter to Hadashot, saying it was surprised that potential public servants “are afraid of transparency towards voters.”

“Recent years have seen attempts to blur Israel’s Jewish identity, a process funded and directed, among others, by the New Israel Fund,” it said.

Im Tirtzu also said, “Candidates who fear damage to their public status due to ties with the Fund apparently understand that the general public frowns upon them, and we advise them to course correct.”

Im Tirtzu has gained notoriety over the past several years for posting ads accusing prominent left-wing activists of being foreign “moles” in Israel and supporters of terror.

Its website describes the group as an “extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel.”

The NIF funds many Israeli left-wing nonprofits and civil society groups. It has been accused by some in the right of advancing foreign interests in Israel.

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the NIF a “foreign organization which receives funding from foreign governments and bodies that are hostile to Israel, such as the foundations of [the Hungarian-born Jewish American liberal philanthropist] George Soros.

“The primary aim of the NIF is to erase the Jewish nature of Israel and to turn it into a state of all its citizens next to a Palestinian state without any Jews on the 1967 border with its capital as Jerusalem,” he said.

Following those allegations the NIF said it saw a major boost in donations by Israelis.

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