Home > Christian Zionism, Foreign Funding of Israeli Right, Israeli Neoconservatism, Suppression of Dissent > Hudson Inst primary financial backer of NGO behind campaign to purge Israeli universities of “leftists”

Hudson Inst primary financial backer of NGO behind campaign to purge Israeli universities of “leftists”

Shira Beery provided significant research for this post.

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Newly uncovered documentation reveals that The Hudson Institute, an influential and activist neoconservative think-tank, has provided nearly $500,000 to the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS), an Israeli NGO at the forefront of an ongoing campaign to purge Israeli Universities of faculty and programs deemed “left-wing.” The grants represent more than half of the IZS’s total reported multi-year funding and position Hudson as the organization’s largest donor.

In addition, the documents indicate that Hudson provided $600,000 to The Atlantic Forum of Israel, an opaque, security-oriented, organization founded by the Israeli National Security Adviser, Uzi Arad, and run by him until last year.

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Partisan pressure on the Israeli academe has been building up for a few months, but came to a head over the past few days. Much of the public’s attention has focused on Im Tirzu’s blunt threat to go after the funding of Ben Gurion University unless it acts immediately to remove “post-Zionist” faculty from its Political Science Department. The week began, however, with a report that the President of Tel-Aviv University was examining the syllabi of his institution’s Sociology Department, following advocacy by the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS), a right-wing organization established by settler leader Israel Harel (profiled by Coteret here). In an article in this morning’s Haaretz, Or Kashti asserts that the two events, and the NGOs behind them, are closely related:

Im Tirtzu chairman Ronen Shoval and the organization’s spokesperson, Erez Tadmor, took part in a Young Leadership program run by the Institute for Zionist Strategies several years ago, seemingly contradicting the two men’s earlier assertion that they were not acting in concert with the institute in their public campaign against the “anti-Zionist bias” in Israeli universities.

[...]

The IZS report on sociology departments is reminiscent of Im Tirtzu’s report on political science departments. Not only is the methodology of the two reports identical (an examination of syllabi and a classification of lecturers into categories such as “Zionist” and “anti-Zionist” ), but the conclusions they reached about the state of Israeli academia are similar.

Until the final months of 2009, both Im Tirzu and the IZS were nearly unknown in the Israeli public sphere and, until now, their sources of funding have remained obscure. On Wednesday, Calcalist, a business daily published by Yediot, revealed that Christian Zionist John Hagee’s CUFI had channeled $120,000 to Im Tirzu through the Houston Jewish Federation and the Jewish Agency [a full translation of article can be read here, courtesy of Judaism Without Borders.]

Previously unpublished documents, analyzed in this post, demonstrate that The Hudson Institute, a major Washington based neoconservative think-tank, which played an active role in shaping the Bush administration’s Middle East policies, has been the largest financial backer of the IZS, providing at least half of the NGO’s total multi-year funding and dwarfing all other sources.

Hudson Institute form 990 for 2007

Hudson’s form 990 report to the IRS for 2006 (page 17) states that the institute transferred $230,000 in the previous tax year to “support Israeli public policy research.” Form 990 for 2007 (last page) states that a further $256,185 were transferred in the previous tax year for “consulting/research.”

According to the IZS’s own reports to the Israeli Registrar of Associations, the Hudson Institute provided 100% of the organization’s external funding in 2006 — $105,881[1] — and 2007 — $325,462[2]. External funding for 2008 (the last year reported) was $50,351[3], coming exclusively from a rather bizarre source: The Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF)[4].

The IZS was established at the end of 2004 (registration document here). Its 2006 financial report states that donations worth $431,597[5] were received in 2005. The Hudson Institute’s form 990 for 2005 does not provide details of external grants. Therefore, confirming that it was also behind these funds requires the IZS’s 2005 report, which Coteret has not yet obtained. Even if this year is discounted, however, Hudson has provided over 53% of IZS’s total reported funding and is its largest donor.

Wurmser

Instead of detailing its grants in the 2005 report, Hudson provides a narrative report of its programs, broken down by the resident scholar responsible for their implementation. On page 23, under “Planned Projects” for Senior Fellow Meyrav Wurmser (if the name does not strike a bell, I encourage you to follow the link), of the institute’s Center for Middle East Policy, appears a brief description that may hint at the purpose of the institute’s support for the IZS (emphasis mine):

IZS financial report for 2007

The Hudson Institute’s involvement in controversial and partisan battles in the Israeli public sphere is legitimate. What is not is the fact that it is hidden from the public eye. The organizations share information on their financial relationship with their respective regulators but not with the general public. Both the IZS and the Hudson websites do not mention the organizations’ connection. In Hebrew, the IZS site simply states that its funding is “private.” In English, it refers potential donors to a newly established (it has registered but not yet filed with the IRS) US charity,  “Friends of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.” Indeed, identifying and documenting this connection required many days of work spread over the better part of a year.

In this context, at the same time the assault on pluralism in the Israeli academe intensified this week, the “NGO Transparency Law” — a thinly veiled attempt to suppress Israeli human rights groups — was making headway in the Knesset (probably not coincidentally, the IZS godfathered the bill along with Gerald Steinberg’s NGO Monitor.) Writing in this morning’s Jerusalem post, Hagai El-Ad, Director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) observes:

In recent months Israelis have witnessed an unprecedented barrage of anti-democratic campaigns, from Im Tirzu to the Land of Israel Forum. All of these campaigns are funded by unknown sources.

[...]

It is the funding of those wishing to silence Israel’s human rights groups that is hidden from the public.

Arad

It appears that the Hudson Institute’s opaque involvement in Israeli affairs is not limited to “democracy” issues and encompasses high-level geopolitics as well. Its form 990 for 2007 (last page) reports on the transfer of $600,000 to the “Atlantic Forum of Israel” in the previous tax year. Trying to understand what this organization does is no easy task. Its website is “under construction”. The website of the (now defunct) American Jewish Congress explains that it is Israel’s official non-governmental representative” to NATO. An October 2009 article in Haaretz reports that Uzi Arad resigned as President of the Forum before assuming the position of Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser. The Saban Forum 2007 itinerary (page 9) adds that Arad founded the NGO.

Why is this significant? It may not be, but there are any number of important reasons why this information should be fully in the public domain and subject to further scrutiny. Consider this one, for example:

  • The question of whether Israel should attack Iran and whether the US should support such a move is very tangibly on the (publicly perceived, at least) policy agenda of both governments.
  • Numerous Hudson Institute scholars, past and present, have taken very hawkish positions on this question (see this very recent article for one example.)
  • Uzi Arad has publicly articulated his (hawkish) position on the issue.
  • The Hudson Institute recently provided an opaque, security-oriented, NGO founded by Uzi Arad and, until last year, run by him, with over half a million dollars of funding.
  • The Hudson Institute is a central component of an active and ideological neoconservative opposition to the foreign and security policy of the current US President; Uzi Arad serves as National Security Adviser to the current Israeli Prime Minister.

The facts listed above may be unrelated. That cannot be confirmed, however, without full disclosure. All involved (and given what’s at stake, that includes you and me) have an interest in moving that process forward.

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Footnotes

  1. NIS 471,858 at an average yearly exchange rate of 4.4565. Click here to view original report, data on page numbered 8.
  2. NIS 1,337,031 at an average yearly exchange rate of 4.1081. Click here to view original report, data on pages numbered 3 and 7.
  3. NIS 180,650 at an average yearly exchange rate of 3.5878. Click here to view original report, data on pages numbered 3 and 7.
  4. A UK  charity “founded in 1865 and is the oldest organization in the world created specifically for the study of the Levant.” Its grants, however, are made to individual researchers, and the 2008 grant list does not mention the IZS or anyone associated with it.
  5. NIS 1,936,922 at average yearly exchange rate of 4.4878. Click here to view original report, data on page numbered 3.
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  1. judith green
    August 19, 2010 at 12:07

    You have confused the Palestine Exploration Fund with the Palestine Endowment Fund, cf. http://www.pefisrael.org/. This is a neutral funding funnel, used by many Israeli NGOs which receive donations from the US and the donors wish to get US Tax recognition for their contributions. Nothing to do with archaeology!

    • August 19, 2010 at 12:52

      Judith,

      I double checked, if there was a mistake, it was their’s. Follow the link to the original report and see for yourself.

      Thanks for your attention,

      Didi

      • judith green
        August 19, 2010 at 15:57

        It is definitely a mistake, and unfortunate. They will waste their time looking into the other PEF! But I can’t seem to find the link to the original report, I just keep coming back to Coteret.

  2. Peter Reynolds
  3. Shaul Sasportas
    August 19, 2010 at 19:03
  4. Elizabeth
    August 19, 2010 at 21:33

    IZS is known for its neocon leanings in Israel, so no surprise that the Hudson Institute funds them.

  5. August 20, 2010 at 03:20

    There is a site on facebook, “Save Palestine From the Israeli Occupation”, in which many people, and not only Palestinians or Arabs, communicate their abhorrence of the actions of the Israeli government and IDF; quite often their understandable anger boils over into hate for Jews and all Israelis so the their racism finds its soul mate in the paranoia and hate expressed by some Israelis for all Arabs.
    My question is, who will “Save Israel from the Israeli Occupation”.

  6. BughouseWW
    August 22, 2010 at 17:03

    Is Arad related to Ron Arad, the Israeli airman lost/captured in 1986?

    According to Ronen Bergman (in “The Secret War with Iran”), finding and recovering Arad has been a major project for Israel. Israelis believe that Iran has Arad, and Israelis or their agents have killed numerous Iranians, including at least four Iranian diplomats, in operations to find Ron Arad.

    If Hudson’s Arad is related to Ron Arad, that would suggest at least another part of motivation for anti-Iran sentiment.

  1. August 19, 2010 at 13:19
  2. August 19, 2010 at 14:15
  3. August 22, 2010 at 13:38
  4. August 22, 2010 at 19:23
  5. August 23, 2010 at 12:17
  6. August 23, 2010 at 19:58
  7. August 24, 2010 at 06:08
  8. August 24, 2010 at 11:03
  9. August 25, 2010 at 18:02
  10. August 28, 2010 at 16:30
  11. August 28, 2010 at 17:55
  12. August 30, 2010 at 18:54
  13. August 31, 2010 at 07:45
  14. August 31, 2010 at 10:54
  15. September 1, 2010 at 02:59
  16. September 1, 2010 at 03:50
  17. September 2, 2010 at 03:51
  18. September 7, 2010 at 00:08
  19. October 8, 2010 at 11:21
  20. January 16, 2011 at 04:35
  21. January 18, 2011 at 05:50

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