NIF sets up dedicated Israel democracy fund

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The New Israel Fund is setting up dedicated funding to advance democracy in Israel, which it depicts as under threat from the ultra-nationalist right.

The U.S.-based NIF’s focus since its establishment in 1979 has been civil society development, and the group has for years encouraged democracy programs, but the group said in a statement last week that recent anti-democratic trends in the country required a sharper focus.

“Overt racism, ultra-nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise,” the statement said. “NIF’s leadership believes that these trends are no accident, but are intentionally encouraged and accelerated by a well-funded, interconnected network of institutions advocating the viewpoints of the ultra-nationalist right.”

The initiative, dubbed NIF-D, for New Initiatives for Democracy, has so far garnered $2 million of the agency’s 2014 overall $30 million budget.

A focus will be think tanks advancing progressive ideas, including Molad, the Center for Renewal of Israeli Democracy; Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies; and the Council for Peace and Security.