The controversial New Israel Fund and its social change and political lobbying organization – known as SHATIL – have received more than $1 million from the State Department under a program designed to create political change, reform, and activism in the Middle East. The government program, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), has extended more than $600 million in grants to political and social activists and reformers in 18 Middle East countries, mainly with unstable or challenged political environments in need of democratic improvement. “This is very grave, yet it explains why, as observers have noted, the Obama administration's interference backfired:
MEPI supports organizations and individuals in their efforts to promote political, economic, and social reform in the Middle East and North Africa,” according to the agency’s official self-description.
The list of nations in which MEPI operates includes such countries as Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, and Yemen.
However, MEPI’s sphere of engagement also includes Israel – ironically the only pluralistic, stable, and democratic nation in the Mideast. Among the leading recipients for MEPI grants in Israel is the New Israel Fund and its SHATIL organization. The NIF is an international, US-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization that has generated intense acrimony within the Jewish community and Israeli establishment for its highly politicized activities.
While MEPI’s involvement with the New Israel Fund has been previously reported in print and online, the million-dollar nature of the partnership has not emerged until now.
Vocal critics in both the U.S. and Israel charge that the New Israel Fund has knowingly financed groups that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, and worked to get Israeli soldiers prosecuted for so-called ‘war crimes.” Benny Yanay of an Israeli military organization called Consensus, representing some 3,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), stated, “The New Israel Fund acts against Israel—against the soldiers of our country. It is supported by foreign governments and organizations so that Israeli soldiers will be weakened.” Other Israel military men and women have alleged that the NIF is trying to “destabilize the IDF.”
US president Barack Obama inadvertently helped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election by interfering in the March 17 race, Democratic and Republican strategists who advised Israeli parties said in recent days.There, see? When something like this takes place, you can't be surprised if it only has the opposite effects of what Obama surely wanted. Even Democrats are clearly disappointed with him.
The Obama administration has been increasingly critical of Netanyahu since he won the election. The statements by the strategists indicated that the president only has himself to blame.
"It’s quite possible, even reasonable, that the White House had no strategy for the Israeli elections, but if its goal was to hurt — or least not help — Netanyahu, then it erred," said Mark Mellman, a strategist for Democratic Senate minority leader Harry Reid who worked for Yesh Atid during the campaign. "Raising the stakes on his congressional address through a series of cold shoulders only enhanced Netanyahu’s standing with his constituency."
Mellman wrote on the Washington website The Hill that Likud supporters were "delighted to see [Netanyahu] stand up to President Obama, and the tougher it got for him, the more that 23 percent cheered — and moved into his corner."
In another report on The Hill, Republican strategist John McLaughlin, who worked for the Likud campaign, said Obama's role during the Israeli election was larger than reported in the US. McLaughlin noted that the anti-Netanyahu organization V15 was guided by former Obama political operative Jeremy Bird.