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Arrest of Arab-Israeli Activist Puts Focus on NGOs Adalah, NIF

The arrest of an Arab-Israeli human rights activist on suspicion of being recruited by Hezbollah threatened on Thursday to expand into a broader scandal over the role of a controversial U.S.-based non-profit that has been criticized for funneling money to anti-Israel organizations and activists, including to those that support waging economic warfare against Israel.

Majd Kayyal was arrested as he returned to Israel from a trip to Lebanon, with Israel’s Shin Bet security agency accusing him of illegally traveling to an enemy country and contacting Hezbollah.

Details of his detainment were released and published on Thursday, including a statement from his lawyer acknowledging that Kayyal knew he was breaking the law by traveling to Lebanon.

Kayyal is the editor of the website for Adalah, an organization that recently became prominent for spearheading eventually violent protests against a plan by the Israeli government to drive billions of dollars into underdeveloped areas of Israel’s southern Negev region. As critics quickly pointed out Thursday afternoon, Adalah in turn receives funds from the New Israel Fund, a New York-based organization that has been widely criticized for acting as a clearinghouse for funds delivered to anti-Israel causes:

The NIF vigorously insists its grants to hundreds of Israeli NGO advances democracy and social improvement — which is true for a number of the recipients which are actually engaged in charitable and betterment programs that benefit women, children, and disadvantaged groups. But beyond good works, scores of the NIF’s recipients have caused leading critics such as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Yoni Chetboun to assert, “The main goal of the NIF is to undermine the Israeli Army, by knowingly financing left-wing Israeli groups that try to get young Israeli soldiers prosecuted for war crimes.” Other prominent MK’s have gone on the record to second Chetboun’s comment. The NIF energetically rebuts such charges and dismisses them as purely political attacks.

The group’s vice president of public affairs recently published an article supportive of partial boycotts against Israel, a version of economic warfare against the Jewish state that has been identified by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center as grounded in anti-Semitism stretching back decades.

[Photo: Adalah / Facebook]