Here’s the evidence for Natanyahu’s claim that “Millions” were spent to defeat him. And what’s his evidence for his claim?
Netanyahu’s claims of foreign involvement were not new to Israelis. In recent months, his party, Likud, has made repeated accusations that “leftist” NGOs were illegally getting funds from foreign donors in order to influence the election outcome — claims that were repeatedly denied.
Netanyahu campaign officials provided The Fact Checker with a list of organizations that they said were active in the Israeli elections “with the political goal of replacing Netanyahu as prime minister.” In a statement, the campaign said “the costs of their activities far exceed $10 million.”
Notably, the campaign did not claim that any of this funding came from the U.S. government. Netanyahu, in his election-eve statement, carefully spoke of “foreign associations.”
Among the organizations cited by the campaign:
- “A Million Hands,” an NGO, organized the massive demonstration “Israel Wants Change.” Netanhayu says it was funded by foreign donors, primarily Daniel Lubetzky and S. Daniel Abraham, and “cost hundreds of thousands of shekels, and its promotion cost hundreds of thousands of shekels more,” the campaign said. (A shekel is worth about 25 cents.) The total cost of the activity of “A Million Hands” to replace Netanyahu was $6 million to $7 million, the campaign asserted, though an article it cited did not contain that figure. (Update: Dror Ben-Ami, co-founder of Million Hands, denied the claims by the Netanyahu campaign. He said in a statement that “the campaign’s total budget, including the rally, was several hundred thousand dollars, only part of which was raised in the U.S.” He said that Million Hands was founded by three Israelis, on a volunteer basis and that “much of the funding was raised from the founders’ own pockets, friends and concerned individuals in Israel.” He added that “we approached U.S. funders; they did not seek us out. In particular, Mr. Lubetzky has never contributed to our campaign.” He also said Million Hands is not affiliated with any political party.)
- V15 (“Victory 15”), which is tied to a U.S. group called OneVoice and included the involvement of a former top Obama campaign aide. “The activity of V15, and especially its activity on election day, was several million dollars, the overwhelming majority of which came from American donors,” the campaign claimed. A spokesman for OneVoice promised a response, but we have not received one–despite repeated requests, even after the publication of this column.
- “Commanders for the Security of Israel,” a group of former generals, which the campaign said was funded to the tune of “hundreds of thousands of shekels.” That’s maybe $100,000 to $200,000.
- Ameinu, another group, sponsored a get-out-the-vote campaign in the Arab community. The campaign cited a fundraising documentfrom December that sought $3 million, but Ameinu president Kenneth Bob said it turned out to be “closer to $2 million.” He said the effort was “nonpartisan” and intended to improve Arab participation. Though he acknowledged that Arabs tend to support left-leaning candidates, he noted that a Druze candidate on the Likud list also benefited from the group’s work.
- Activities of political strategist Eyal Arad, which the campaign said was funded primarily by American donors and cost “several million dollars.” Arad has denied that claim, shooting back back that in 1994 Netanyahu had offered him a job that would have been funded by a “foreign and unnamed businessman.” (Netanyahu’s campaign denied it.)
The campaign added that “there are many other organizations” dedicated to replacing Netanyahu funded by foreign donors, pointing specifically to the New Israel Fund, which aims for a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and doles out about $25 million a year. But the Israel Fund has vehemently denied any funding, directly or indirectly, to pro-peace organizations active in the campaign.
Watchdog Group Says Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of watchdog group NGO Monitor, Israeli Election Subject to Massive and Blatant Subversion
Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of watchdog group NGO Monitor, said today that Israeli democracy suffers from the “severe problem of foreign interference.” Steinberg was responding to a Washington Post article, in which he was quoted, analyzing the role of foreign money in the Israeli election.
“No other democratic country in the world is subject to such massive interference and blatant subversion,” said Steinberg.
“Groups like V-15, OneVoice, Ameinu and the powerful New Israel Fund operate entirely outside Israeli government regulations and campaign financing laws, and this must end — no democracy can allow itself to be manipulated by unaccountable and irresponsible political frameworks.”
Earlier this week, Netanyahu warned that his political opponents in Israel’s general election on Tuesday were benefiting from “tens of millions” in foreign support.
The Washington Post published a story today about the amount of foreign money injected into the elections. While the paper said that there were millions in foreign money spent on the race, there was no evidence of tens of millions having been spent.
Steinberg praised The Washington Post piece for “highlighting the severe problem of foreign interference in and efforts to manipulate Israeli democracy,” but he thought it was too dismissive of European efforts to influence the elections.
“Kessler’s piece gave short shrift to the tens of millions of dollars provided annually by European governments to political groups such as B’tselem, Peace Now, and dozens more,” Steinberg said. “This practice is a form of modern imperialism, with the Europeans using money for NGOs as the main form of influence. All of these forms of interference and manipulation will be examined in detail in the Knesset in coming months.”
|Chaim Werdyger<email@example.com>, PASSOVER EXPRESSIONS|
Goat milk ice cream
4 C goat’s milk (aka 1 Quart)
1 C sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of kosher salt
4 egg yolks
Warm milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in sauce pan until sugar dissolves. Beat and temper egg yolks, add to milk. Add lemon zest. Cook for ~2 mins, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and strain. Refrigerate until completely chilled.
Churn and freeze.