Israeli envoy backs out of ‘provocative’ New Israel Fund panel

Josefin Dolsten

Jacob Keidar

Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland Jacob Keidar (Screenshot from YouTube)

(JTA) — Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland backed out of  a panel in Zurich organized by the Swiss branch of the left-wing civil society group New Israel Fund.

Jacob Keidar decided Monday not to appear at the Sept. 18 conference due to its “provocative” title, “Is Israeli democracy in danger?” and the fact that NIF was organizing it, said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, according to Haaretz. The decision was not a result of an order from the Foreign Ministry, Nahshon added.

“The ambassador canceled his participation in the event immediately once he realized it was a conference with problematic characteristics,” Nahshon said.

NIF head Daniel Sokatch said the decision set “a disturbing precedent.”


Keidar boycotting the event “is in line with the modus operandi that Israel’s hardliners have adopted: do everything possible to discredit those who don’t agree with the direction the current government is taking Israel,” Sokatch wrote on the NIF website.

“If you dare to disagree, you are persona non grata in the eyes of too many at the highest levels of Israeli leadership these days,” he added.

Sokatch also labeled “dubious” the Foreign Ministry’s assertion that the decision hadn’t come from higher up in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In December the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general, Jeremy Issacharoff, took part in a discussion in New York about Iran’s nuclear program organized by NIF and left-leaning newspaper Haaretz.

NIF has been the target of attacks by right-wing groups.

Watchdog group NGO Monitor claimed in a 2015 report that NIF funds groups “that contribute to BDS and the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.”

In 2010, the right-wing Israeli group Im Tirtzu launched a campaign blaming NIF for the Goldstone Report, an investigation by the UN that accused Israel and Palestinian militants of committing war crimes during the 2009 Gaza War. South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who headed the report, later retracted claims that Israel intentionally had targeted civilians during the conflict.

NIF has accused its critics of misrepresenting its work and lying about its grantees.

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