|FOCUS ON ISRAELWhy help enemies of the Jewish state?Ike.Seamans@nbc.com
The Ford Foundation has a well-deserved reputation for helping the world's poor and disenfranchised. It is very concerned about Palestinians, acknowledging, ``A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of central importance.''
So why does it persist in aiding and abetting organizations that promote destructive political agendas aimed at the Jewish state?
In 2003, after a probe of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations, 17 members of Congress asked the foundation's president Susan Berresford to ''cease funding subversive groups.'' She promptly changed funding guidelines, stopped giving big bucks to a few NGOS and declared, ''We will never support groups that promote or condone bigotry or violence that challenge the very existence of legitimate, sovereign states like Israel.'' Admirable. Guess what? Not much has changed.
''The Ford Foundation continues to support the demonization of Israel by many NGOs,'' says Gerald Steinberg, editor of Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor. ``Some of these groups do important work helping Palestinians, but many promote propaganda and prolong the conflict. The foundation needs to check how its money is being spent.''
A new report expected to be issued next week contends that the foundation continues to bankroll numerous Palestinian NGOs with nefarious goals. Some of the egregious lowlights:
• Palestinian Center For Human Rights: Last year, it received $370,000 from the foundation for ''a program of legal advocacy and the promotion of the democratic processes in Gaza.'' In fact, Gaza is a lawless enclave ruled by warlords. The PCHR never condemns terrorist attacks while criticizing Israel for ``war crimes, torture and inhuman treatment.''
Al-Haq-Ford gave this group $240,000 in 2005 for a program ''to protect human rights and the rule of law.'' Run by attorney Jonathan Kuttab, an apologist for terrorists and infamous Israel-basher, this NGO condemns Israel for ``extrajudicial executions; mass arbitrary arrests and humiliation, harassment and violence.''
• Miftah: Founded by politician Hanan Ashrawi supposedly to promote ''global dialogue and democracy,'' she uses her bully pulpit to denigrate Israeli policies as ''wholesale brutalization and persecution'' while praising terrorists as ''activists and leaders.'' Ford generously provided $250,000 last year to keep her bellowing.
• Al-Mezan Center For Human Rights: Located in Gaza's squalid Jabalia Refugee Camp, Ford coughed up $250,000 in 2005 for ''community-based advocacy'' programs. This group's website accuses Israel of ''ethnic cleansing'' and ''war crimes'' while justifying terrorism. It displays graphic pictures of Israeli attacks, but never mentions Palestinian suicide bombers.
• Jerusalem Media and Communication Center: The recipient of a $140,000 foundation grant last year, it claims to provide a wide range of services to journalists, researchers and international agencies seeking ''reliable information on the Palestinian territory.'' I visited it in January. Nothing could be further from the truth. It routinely defames Israel and advocates a one-state solution while proudly boasting of a manual prepared for ''Palestinian policymakers and media professionals'' instructing them how to slant stories.
The Ford Foundation has also contributed to Israeli NGOs, every one of them managed by those who oppose their own country's aspirations and support the Palestinian cause.
''The Ford Foundation takes very seriously any allegations of inappropriate activity by our grantees,'' Marta Tellado, vice president for communications, tells me via e-mail. ``When the work of our grantees is questioned, we have a formal process to investigate such reports fully. We will not make a judgment on the allegations at hand until we follow this review process.''
With a $10.5 billion portfolio and $500 million in grants doled out annually, the Ford Foundation is totally independent and can spend its money any way it wishes. But there have to be more-deserving recipients than those who spew an endless -- and tiresome -- litany of hate.