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Promoting peace or assaulting Israel? The Rockefeller Brothers Fund supports groups that encourage o

As Published in The New York Daily News

The movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS), which singles out the Jewish State among all nations to delegitimize and isolate, continues to gather steam.

The American Anthropological Association will vote on a BDS resolution in April. The University of South Florida, Northwestern and Vassar voted to boycott Israel, and a divestment campaign is underway at Columbia. This spring, Israel Apartheid Week, a BDS hate fest, is being held at college campuses around the U.S.

Seeing left-wing universities embrace the anti-Semitic movement is disappointing but not entirely surprising. But why does the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a premier philanthropy based in Manhattan, finance non-governmental organizations intent on annihilating the Jewish state?

BDS demands “the end of Israel’s occupation and colonialization” of all Arab lands, dismantling the security wall that protects Israelis from Palestinian terror and the right of return to Israel of several million descendants of original Arab refugees. In the words of Palestinian BDS leader Omar Barghouti, “A return for refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

”In 1940, the five sons of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. founded the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as “a private, family foundation helping to advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

”With an endowment of more than $800 million and annual gift-giving of more than $30 million, RBF donates to many worthwhile organizations. But its persistent penchant for funding groups that actively support BDS against Israel raises serious concerns.

In 2015, RBF granted $140,000 to Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP supports BDS “as part of our work for freedom, justice and equality for all people,” and praises Palestinians “rising up en-masse against Israel’s brutal, decades-old regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.” How is contributing to JVP advancing a just and durable peace?

RBF gave $50,000 in 2015 to the American Friends Service Committee’s Israel program, which advocates for the Palestinian “right of return,” promotes BDS initiatives at universities and holds the BDS Summer Institute “focused on building skills for divestment campaigns.”

Zochrot, a pro-Palestinian organization that regards the creation of Israel as a “catastrophe,” received $20,000 in 2015 from RBF. Zochrot supports “de-Zionizing Palestine,” eliminating the Jewish state via implementation of the right of return.

Middle East Policy Network, aka Al-Shabaka, received $100,000 from RBF in 2015. In 2013, Al-Shabaka hosted a conference called “Political Agency for Palestinian Return,” arguing that anti-Israel boycotts are “the most effective and strategic campaign for refugee return.

”How does funding AFSC, Zochrot and MEPN promote a just and durable peace?

Equally compelling evidence for support of BDS exists for Middle East Children’s Alliance, Grassroots Jerusalem, the Institute for Middle East Understanding and +972, which together received nearly $300,000 in 2015 from RBF.

Given the small budgets of these NGOs, these RBF grants are significant.

In 2014 and again in 2015, responding to questioning by NGO Monitor, RBF’s president, Stephen Heintz, and the director of its Peacebuilding Program, Ariadne Papagapitos, denied any conflict between RBF’s stated mission and its funding of groups that assault Israel’s right to exist. A recent request to interview Heintz was denied, as was one for additional information beyond what is available on RBF’s website.

John D. Rockefeller, the father of the dynasty, said, “Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.” It is certainly time for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to recognize its obligation to act responsibly.

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