Human Rights

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Legal Watchdog Warns Rockefeller Fund Over Support for Hate Groups

The legal watchdog group Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center has warned the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) that its support of groups that advocate boycotting Israel could cause the fund to be “considered complicit and as a participant in these groups’ illegal activities.”

The letter laid out RBF’s questionable funding:

The BDS [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] movement’s efforts constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, and religion under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“Anti-Racism Convention”) and numerous U.S. federal and state statutes, including New York law. Funding organizations that promote BDS raises serious legal issues for RBF. Accordingly, we strongly advise you to consider whether RBF should continue to provide financial backing to these hate groups who promote BDS against Israel and Israeli companies, individuals, and products.

The BDS movement is inherently racist, anti-Semitic, biased and prejudicial and has an extremist agenda that unfairly singles out Israel and Jews. The BDS movement’s true goal is the destruction of the State of Israel and its Jewish community. It masquerades as a human rights movement, but it is singularly fixated on Israel and Jews and ignores egregious human rights abuses everywhere else in the world since they do not feed its anti-Israel agenda.

The Shurat Hadin letter pointed out that despite the human rights abuses taking place all over the Middle East, particularly in Syria and the Gaza Strip, the BDS movement only targets Israel. Such funding is not only “reprehensible,” the letter said, but may also constitute an unlawful form of discrimination. For example, the United States Code prohibits discrimination in places of “public accommodation” on “the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Many states have passed laws barring state governments from contracting with any business or individual that boycotts or supports a boycott of Israel.

The letter to RBF comes in the wake of a number of media reports tying the foundation to anti-Israel activist organizations. RBF’s funding of groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and Zochrot were first revealed in The Tower in February by Yona Schiffmiller of the watchdog organization NGO Monitor. An op-ed in the New York Daily News last week documented the troubling advocacy of the groups RBF funds:

In 2015, RBF granted $140,000 to Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP supports BDS “as part of our work for freedom, justice and equality for all people,” and praises Palestinians “rising up en-masse against Israel’s brutal, decades-old regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.” How is contributing to JVP advancing a just and durable peace?

RBF gave $50,000 in 2015 to the American Friends Service Committee’s Israel program, which advocates for the Palestinian “right of return,” promotes BDS initiatives at universities and holds the BDS Summer Institute “focused on building skills for divestment campaigns.”

Zochrot, a pro-Palestinian organization that regards the creation of Israel as a “catastrophe,” received $20,000 in 2015 from RBF. Zochrot supports “de-Zionizing Palestine,” eliminating the Jewish state via implementation of the right of return.

Bloomberg News reported last year that RBF spent millions of dollars bringing together “a loose coalition of peace groups, think tanks, and former high-ranking U.S. diplomats” in support of the nuclear deal with Iran.

[Photo: Jennifer Feuchter / Flickr ]