The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has given major grants in recent years to groups that call for boycotts of Israel and support the nuclear deal with Iran, Armin Rosen reported Wednesday in Tablet Magazine.
Founded in 1940 by David Rockefeller and his four brothers, the fund is one of the most famous family foundations in America. Under the leadership of president Stephen Heintz, RBF decided in 2011 to remake its “peacebuilding” program and focus on Afghanistan, U.S.-Iranian relations, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then it has donated funds to groups in the Middle East, where it believes it can have the most impact.
In 2011, RBF started funding Hebrew University, Just Vision and Breaking the Silence. The latter two groups primarily blame Israel for the failure to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Following a trip by RBF’s board to Israel and the West Bank in 2014, the fund accelerated its support of groups that back the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
In 2015, RBF gave a two-year grant of $140,00 to Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes BDS. “It’s not just RBF. The R stands for Rockefeller,” observed Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of JVP. “It’s an indicator of an increasing acceptance of our political position in the broader world,” she said. “From that perspective, it was an important moment for us to have a foundation like RBF to begin to fund us.”
RBF distributes some $33 million annually all around the world, but “at least $880,000 in RBF funding has also gone to groups working to advance a boycott of the world’s only Jewish state,” Rosen observed.
“We’re not funding those groups specifically for their work on BDS,” Heintz told Rosen, “and BDS or whatever forms of economic activism they support are not the only things that they do.” However, Rosen noted that many of the grants to BDS-promoting groups have been renewed, which signals that RBF is satisfied with their activities.
RBF has also played a role in promoting the nuclear deal with Iran. Since Heintz took over as president of RBF in 2001, the fund has looked to improve the relationship between Washington and Tehran. Heintz was instrumental in implementing informal talks between U.S. and Iranian citizens, called “track-two diplomacy,” beginning in 2002.
RBF also gave $4.4 million to the Ploughshares Fund, which was a central funder of the media “echo chamber” created by the Obama administration to build support for the nuclear deal.
Heintz has chosen to continue funding pro-BDS organizations despite multiple complaints to the board, including from former undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns, an RBF trustee who resigned over the fund’s support of pro-BDS groups. Shurat Hadin warned RBF last year that its support for pro-BDS groups could put it in legal jeopardy.
Rosen observed that it is ironic that RBF supports groups that promote boycotts of Israel when David Rockefeller, beginning in 1951, “served as the Israeli government’s U.S. fiscal agent for State of Israel bonds.” As chairman of Chase Bank in 1964, Rockefeller also refused to give into the threat of an Arab League boycott.
Yona Schiffmiller provided extensive background on RFB’s support of BDS-promoting organizations for The Tower in February 2016.
A document dump released last August from the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic network headed George Soros that heavily backed the Ploughshares Fund, showed that OSF spent millions of dollars annually to create an “echo chamber” of “organizations highly critical of the Jewish state.”
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