A cache of confidential documents from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), released after the George Soros-funded philanthropic network was apparently hacked, provides extensive details of the hedge fund mogul’s secretive efforts to spend millions of dollars annually to create an “echo chamber” of “organizations highly critical of the Jewish state,” Tablet Magazine’s Liel Leibovitz reported this week.
OSF has funded multiple organizations over many years that deny Israel’s right to exist or seek to delegitimize the Jewish state, often by advancing anti-Semitic language and themes, as part of a deliberate strategy.
Typical of the Soros grantees, Adalah, a self-described “non-profit, non- sectarian Palestinian-run legal center,” received over $2 million and frequently slanders Israel with false accusations Israel of committing war crimes and lobbies governments to break or downgrade diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Adalah was also involved in crafting the platform released by a network of groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, which charged Israel with carrying out a “genocide” against Palestinians. The libel was strongly condemned by a panoply of Jewish organizations, with Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt calling it “repellent and completely inaccurate.”
Another OSF grantee is I’lam, a Palestinian media center based in Nazareth. In a 2014 publication about Israel’s founding, which it called the Palestinian “Nakba”—literally meaning “catastrophe”—I’lam made the discredited claim that Israel was guilty of ethnic cleansing and that “the practical meaning of the Nakba undermines the moral and ethical foundation of Zionism and, hence, of the State of Israel.” OSF also approved grants to 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.
One leaked document explains how OSF worked to undermine Israel’s legitimacy through its Arab Regional Office (ARO). According to the report, the ARO was motivated in part by “a particular shift in political dynamics particularly in the US reflected by the publication of the Walt and Mearsheimer article ‘The Israel Lobby’ in Spring 2006 which pointed out the lobby’s role in, among other things, influencing the Iraq invasion.” The ARO was also encouraged by what it mistakenly perceived as a rise in support for boycotting Israel. In fact, investment in Israel has nearly tripled since the boycott campaign was launched by Palestinian groups in 2005.
As Leibovitz reports, instead of funding groups who seek to bolster peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinians, Soros “took a much less democratic approach and instead focused exclusively on exerting outside pressure on the Israeli government,” by mainstreaming organizations and fringe voices that further anti-Semitic themes and seek to undermine the basic legitimacy of the Jewish state. The office’s objectives were spelled out in the ARO report:
1. Local groups are capable of more frequent and effective international advocacy in the US and EU, particularly by Palestinian voices.
2. A dedicated advocacy platform is formed to provide Palestinian and Israeli groups with access to technical resources and knowhow to develop D.C. advocacy.
3. Enhance the capacity and effectiveness of EU advocacy through direct support to local groups and advocacy platforms alike.
4. Civil society actors are better equipped and positioned to rapidly respond to emergencies, and grave violations or concerns for human rights.
The OSF thus created an echo-chamber, or, in Leibovitz’s words, “an enclosed system of like-minded partisans that appears sufficiently diverse in scope,” which “is often able to amplify its messages and lend them credibility.” At the same time, OSF purposely and often deliberate effort hid and downplayed its extensive involvement in the network. “For a variety of reasons,” one OSF document read, “we wanted to construct a diversified portfolio of grants dealing with Israel and Palestine, funding both Israeli Jewish and PCI (Palestinian Citizens of Israel) groups as well as building a portfolio of Palestinian grants and in all cases to maintain a low profile and relative distance.”
One example of how the echo chamber worked was during the Second Intifada in 2002, when Adalah and other Soros-funded groups falsely accused Israeli forces of massacring Palestinian civilians in Jenin. As the charge came “from a plethora of well-funded Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, all geared exclusively towards communicating with European and American government and lobbying groups, these false accusations were reported extensively in the international media and were widely considered factually true,” Leibovitz wrote.
The leak of the confidential OSF documents comes soon after officials from two NGOs and a United Nations organization were exposed for aiding the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas. Israeli authorities charged Mohammad el-Halabi, the top Gaza official of the Christian charity World Vision, with funneling millions of dollars from the charity’s coffers to Hamas, and indicted Waheed Borsh, an employee of the United Nations Development Program, over his efforts to aid the terrorist group.
The strategy outlined in the OSF reports provides greater details into the anti-Israel strategy coordinated among the radical left. A document uncovered by NGO Monitor last year showed that the international charity Oxfam funded the Israel-based NGO Breaking the Silence and called on the group to “conduct interviews with ‘as many’ soldiers as possible who will testify regarding [Israeli] ‘immoral actions’ that violate human rights.”
[Photo: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung / Flickr ]