One of the world’s most well-known human rights organizations has launched a new BDS initiative with financial support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund — now the most high-profile private foundation in the US that is openly backing the campaign to isolate Israel economically and culturally.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, a prominent Israeli expert on the financing of the global BDS campaign, told The Algemeiner on Thursday that the fund had been “irrevocably stained” by its growing financial support for BDS campaigns — including Human Rights Watch’s latest project.
HRW announced on Wednesday it was encouraging punitive measures against Israeli banks which provide services to Jewish communities in the West Bank. HRW’s Israel and Palestine department received a grant of $10,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in June, in recognition of its “Program Goal: Advance Just and Durable Peace.”
HRW declared in a statement that the Israeli banks “violate their international law responsibilities to avoid contributing to human rights and other abuses, including unlawful land seizures, discrimination against Palestinians, and de facto annexation of the West Bank by Israel.”
Sari Bashi — HRW’s program director for Israel and Palestine — said, “Institutional investors should insist that the banks clarify the extent of their settlement activities and which if any laws would prevent them from ending these activities.” On the lengthy checklist which HRW wants investors to present to Israeli banks are the questions, “What new housing projects in the settlements do you plan to finance?” and “Have you or will you submit a request to close your bank branches in Israeli settlements in Area C ?” (“Area C” refers to those parts of the West Bank where the Israeli authorities exercise full control under the “Oslo II” agreement with the Palestinian Authority.)
Research by the Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor into HRW’s funding noted that the organization has now launched three BDS-related initiatives in 2017 alone. NGO Monitor also observed that the timing of the campaign against Israeli banks coincides with the “preparation of the discriminatory UN Human Rights Council blacklist, currently being prepared by UN functionaries in conjunction with BDS groups like HRW.”
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s donation to Human Rights Watch’s latest campaign is part of a broader pattern of donating to BDS advocacy groups, NGO Monitor observed. In June — the same month that the HRW donation was announced — the Rockefeller Brothers Fund confirmed the renewal of a two-year, $140,000 grant to “Jewish Voice for Peace,” an extreme anti-Zionist group. The JVP group has this year alone launched campaigns accusing US Jewish organizations of enabling police violence against black Americans, and targeting Jewish students considering a visit to Israel with the Birthright organization.
Steinberg — who is NGO Monitor’s founder and president — pointed out on Thursday that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund was not the first major US foundation to have provided material support for anti-Israel activism.
“In 2001, the Ford Foundation made the mistake of funding the infamously antisemitic NGO Forum of the UN conference against racism in Durban, South Africa,” Steinberg told The Algemeiner. “Ford’s then president apologized, but the damage was done.”
Steinberg charged that Stephen Heintz — the long-serving president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund — was now “leading his organization as it follows this path to immorality, under the facade of promoting peace.”
“The evidence speaks for itself, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has been irrevocably stained by empowering hate groups like JVP, and BDS leaders like Human Rights Watch,” Steinberg said.
Israeli officials have also spoken out forcefully on the fund’s support for BDS. Ambassador Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, told The Algemeiner earlier this week he had presented Heintz with evidence of NGOs that are supported by the fund condoning terrorism and denying Israel’s right to exist, remarking that “he couldn’t care less.”
“When the Rockefeller Brothers Fund promotes radical, fringe groups in the US and abroad, they become the problem they seek to fix,” Dayan said.