Minister Tzahi Hanegbiת Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely and MK Ze'ev Elkin announced Sunday that they have cancelled their planned speeches at the annual Haaretz “Israel Democracy Conference” in Tel Aviv, scheduled to take place in a fortnight's time. The reason for the cancellation: the conference program reveals that the New Israel Fund (NIF) is a sponsor of the event.
Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett cancelled his participation too, Monday morning.
The NIF has been viewed with contempt by nationalists since it was revealed, in 2010, that groups it funded provided over 90% of the Israeli quotes cited in the UN's infamous Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza.
Likud told the Mida website that “as an ideological, nationalist movement, Likud will not cooperate with bodies that incessantly besmirch Israel. The New Israel Fund finances dozens of radical leftist organizations, like B'tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adallah and Machsom Watch, which are responsible for the Goldstone Report. If Haaretz announces that it will forego the Fund's participation in the event, Likud will reconsider its participation in the conference.”
Among the planned speakers at the event are President Reuven Rivlin; Attorney Talia Sasson, who is co-chair of the Fund's international council; Attorney Hassan Jabareen, Chairman of Adallah; ex-Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg, who is now a member of the communist party; MKs from Meretz, MK Ahmed Tibi – and, until Monday morning, Jewish Home's Bennett, MK Ayelet Shaked and Yinon Magal.
The Jewish Home initially told Mida that while it was also unaware that the NIF is a sponsor of the event, but that it will participate nonetheless. “As in previous years, the Jewish Home will participate in the Haaretz Conference, in the face of the leftists' shouts. It is very important to sound a proud and clear right-wing voice, specifically in a place like this.”
Mida noted in response that just a few weeks ago, the Jewish Home announced – after NIF-supported Batia Kahana-Dror dropped out of its primaries – that “the people of the NIF, an organization that harms IDF soldiers and every Israeli interest, are not wanted in the Jewish Home. Good riddance.” Dr. Ronen Shoval, who is #16 on the Jewish Home list, is considered a leader in the fight against the NIF, and was specifically commended for his “historic” struggle by Bennett. Mida cited an unnamed Jewish Home activist who said that by taking part in the conference, “the Jewish Home is lending legitimacy to an anti-Zionist organization.”
Mida's pressure appeared to have paid off, and Bennett around noontime Monday he would not attend the conference.
The NIF told Mida that the Democracy Conference is being held held at the initiative of Haaretz. “The New Israel Fund suports the conference, alongside additional bodies. You may ask Haaretz any additional questions you have.”