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Right-wing group, Jerusalem Post launch public attack on +972

NGO Monitor tries to silence us by going after our donors. Supporting +972 is the best response! 

By Noam Sheizaf


Dear Readers,

+972 Magazine is at the center of a negative piece published today in the Jerusalem Post. According to the piece, a right-wing watchdog group called NGO Monitor has launched a public attack on the German Heinrich Böll Foundation for supporting the site with a grant of 6,000 euros, received last year.

In recent years, NGO Monitor has systematically targeted human right organizations, academics and progressive groups in Israel. A recent piece in Haaretz reported that right-wing groups have created a blacklist of some 1,000 academics, politicians and commentators who are targeted for being too “anti-Israel” or “anti-Zionist.”  NGO Monitor works in the same way, but against non-profit organizations; their blacklist of Israeli organizations can be found here.

The Post article cites Gerald Steinberg, head of NGO Monitor:

“Heinrich Böll’s decision to support +972 fulfills no humanitarian purpose and does not foster peace and mutual understanding… [Böll] cannot justify funding an online magazine that targets English speakers and routinely presents biased, one-sided perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict. This funding helps provide a platform used to demonize Israel. +972 reporters and bloggers, for example, invoke the hateful ‘apartheid’ analogy. Why is German taxpayer funding going to this counterproductive activity?”

The attack on +972 is being carried out in the standard way NGO Monitor, Im Tirzu and similar organizations work these days: Not by debating the content of our reports and commentary pieces, but by trying to delegitimize and silence us.

It is worth noting that all the writing on our site is done on a voluntary basis, and the limited funding +972 received – in addition to the the writers’ personal investments – is used for editing and maintenance work on the site. Unable to prevent us from speaking or writing, NGO Monitor is instead trying to hurt our ability to operate. Since +972 is completely transparent about its financial resources; all the organization had to do is go to our “About” page to find the target of their censorship campaign.

The work of NGO Monitor and similar groups is not possible without the help of sympathetic reporters – in this case, the Jerusalem Post’s correspondent in Europe, Benjamin Weinthal. This isn’t the first time Weinthal carries out a hit job on behalf of NGO Monitor (see here, here, here, here, here and here). It should thus come as no surprise that while his article states that “+972 did not immediately answer a Post query,” we didn’t actually receive a request for comment – not by phone, not to the site e-mail (info@972mag.com) clearly presented on the “Contact Us” page, and not to my own e-mail, also available on the site. After the publication of the piece, we finally found a short request for comment, sent just a few hours before the Post ran its smear article, to the address set up to receive op-ed contributions to +972 (!). We can only assume that it was hoped we would miss the message.

Had we gotten a chance to comment, this is what we would have said to NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem Post and anyone else trying to censor, threaten and silence voices that make them uncomfortable:

+972 Magazine was launched a year and a half ago with a clear intention to bring fresh, on-the ground reporting and commentary not usually found in the mainstream media. While we don’t hide our support for human rights, freedom of information or our opposition to the occupation, the 15 bloggers, two editors and dozens of guest writers and photographers who have contributed to the site in the last 18 months represent a variety of voices, which are often at odds with one another. For us, giving voice to their opinions and reports represents a true commitment to democracy and freedom of expression. We see +972 as a unique platform for new ideas, fresh reports and vigorous debates.

Since the site was launched, we have posted texts by Palestinians, Egyptians, Americans, Europeans and Israelis. Of the 2,000 posts published on the site so far, anyone should be able to find some – or many – to disagree with. It is our belief that this offers opportunity for debate, not censorship.

Obviously, NGO Monitor and some of our journalist colleagues think differently.

These are difficult days for democracy and freedom of speech here. This is why we thank the Heinrich Böll fund for standing by +972, and for not interfering with the content on the site. We hope that others who have considered supporting us will also not surrender to smear campaigns or threats.

We urge our readers who wish to support us in the face of this attack to donate to the daily maintenance of the site, and to sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

Expanding the reach of +972 is, we believe, the best and most effective response to those who wish to silence us.


UPDATE: A warm thank you from the entire +972 team to all those who donated, emailed us and shared this post following yesterday’s attack on us. You’ve made difficult day to one of the happiest we had. It’s your support that keeps us going!

Read Also:
Statement of Ralf Fücks, President of Heinrich Böll Foundation

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

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    1. Ali Abunimah

      I am not sure why Noam Sheizaf did not mention the hit jobs that Weinthal performed on behalf of NGO Monitor that targeted The Electronic Intifada. They are summed up and linked in these two articles:

      Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada

      NGO Monitor creates fake controversy over EI articles in attack on Democrat think-tank

      Reply to Comment
    2. Herbert Baierl

      To answer Gerald Steinbergs question:
      “Why is German taxpayer funding going to this counterproductive activity?”
      I as a German citizen would be very glad if more funding would reach independent critical journalists.
      In regard to “demonizing Israel”, if +972 magazine would publish in the german language and from inside Germany, your site would be shut down immediately on grounds of antisemitism.

      Reply to Comment
    3. @ALI: I linked whatever came out first in my search. The List is very long.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Uriel

      Thanks to NGO Montior’s action, I’ve just donated you guys for the maintenance of this site, so if anything, their actions will just prove to be counter-productive like any other Israeli Hasbara these days.

      Reply to Comment
    5. aristeides

      It’s a sign of desperation that they are making an all-out assault on the truth.

      Unfortunately, the reaction of some outlets also exhibits a hint of desperation. Only yesterday, Mondoweiss announced a stricter policy of censorship and banning commenters that sounds like it’s right out of the pages of the Zionist Daily Kos.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mikesailor

      Did you really expect anything different? The control of information is vital to maintain right-wing control in the ‘Jewish’ state. With willing participation of so-called ‘journalistic’ enterprises such as the Jerusalem Post which censors all views inimical to their opinions. It is refreshing that at least some resist the slide toward fascism, yet I fear that the forces arrayed against your ideals are both strong and ruthless. Freedom of speech and thought are anathema to those who wish to push a right-wing agenda.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Louis

      I submitted this comment on the JPost article page and it has not been posted while they did post some less than friendly comments: Note It really is not that complex! The Occupation is wrong, the settlements are wrong… violations of IHL and Int. Human Rights Law are not an internal affair of any rights violating country!!!

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ohad

      was about the support but the I saw Ali Abunimah comment . and elctronic intifada as well as any idea of the destruction of Israel here or anywhere else, is just that an idea , a dream a hateful wishful thinking.
      it is the opposite of human rights , peace or justice thou

      Reply to Comment
    9. Mesho

      If they are attacking you, it means you are serving your purpose. Don’t back down on attempting to expose the truth.

      @OHAD: to the contrary, I support this EVEN MORE because Ali Abunimah and the Electronic Intifada are also essential to the goal of justice in Palestine and Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Anonymous

      “Appropriate Zionist response” (תגובה ציונית הולמת)- just donated money to +972.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Danny

      @Noam, consider it a compliment to be blacklisted by NGO-Watch. It means that +972 is having an impact. Continue the good work!

      Reply to Comment
    12. Danny

      I just had an LOL moment:
      (from Jpost piece): “Steinberg said, “Contrary to Böll’s claims, +972 presents a one-sided, highly distorted view of the complex Arab- Israeli conflict. Such interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign state is a blatant violation of democratic norms.”
      Did Steinberg make similar claims about intereference in Israel’s internal affairs against Sheldon Adelson and his Bibiton? My guess is in the negative.

      Reply to Comment
    13. “The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head.”

      If Jean Cocteau was right, this is just the first stage…

      Reply to Comment
    14. Florian

      I find it problematic when so-called “independent” news sites accept money from political foundations. You loose a lot of credibility in my eyes and I guess your coverage of Israeli issues will in the future represent more and more the views of the German Green Party. For me this is not independent journalism.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Noam didn’t note that similar pressure on another German foundation supporting a different Israeli NGO resulted in that foundation cutting funding to the NGO.

      Also, you should complain vociferously to JPost editors about the way you were treated by the reporter and ask them to append your reply to the article.

      I did that when they ran an inaccurate hit piece about me & they appeared concerned to get things right.

      Reply to Comment
    16. My solidarity for you!

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ohad

      MESHO your justice and the electronic intifada justice is the tragedy of Israelis , and for that can not be justice.
      Justice is only when its justice to all people of the land Israelis and Palestinians

      Reply to Comment
    18. Piotr Berman

      At last!

      It was already insulting that 972+ did not make it to the top three list of enemies of Israel (Iran, Ha’aretz, NYT) as was otherwise overlooked. Now your list of sins can be presented to all.

      1) Targets English speakers. It kind of explain low ranking on the list of Enemies of the State — English speakers are predominantly outside. But how did NYT made it?

      2) Fulfills no humanitarian purpose, does not foster peace and mutual understanding. This boggles my mind.

      I mean, under what circumstances would NGO Monitor considers “fulfilling humanitarian purposes”, “fostering peace” and “mutual understanding” to be a good thing? I was just explained that fostering peace is an anti-Semitic trap to con Israel into making existence threatening concessions? “Mutual understanding” is another anti-Semitic trick, from the section “moral equivalence”.

      3) The magazine is counterproductive. Heinrich Boell was a writer, so I am not sure if the foundation bearing his name is overly concerned with productivity. But it nicely shows how productive NGO Monitor is: soon they will scan all donations exceeding 50 Euros. As it is, German taxpayers will be able to save a nice amount, something like 1 cent for every 120 taxpayers. Of course, there will be some upfront investment: someone would have to remove the missive from NGO Monitor from the pile of junk mail etc.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Piotr Berman

      Florian: can you describe how much credibility 972+ had in your eyes before that revelation? And what are the “views of the German Green Party” that you find so dreadful? I vehemently disagree with some of their positions, but overall, it is hard to find a nicer party.

      NGO Monitor are hired thugs of some reactionary billionaires of the type of Sheldon Adelson and connected politically to regressive political parties in Israel. And they got quite a bit more than 10000 Euroes.

      Reply to Comment
    20. This is great. A site in which most of the contributors are citizens of Israel, presenting an accurate view of their personal experiences of living in Israel, are promoting an irrational view of Israel. NGO Monitor must have established in its founding bylaws a desire to give a modern example of 1984.

      This is second example I have noticed where the new definition of anti-semitism has been delivered. No longer do you have to hate Jews, exhibit actual racist behaviors toward Jews. Now all you have to do become an anti-semite is to have an objection to a single behavior of a Jew, especially a extreme right wing Jew exhibiting apartheid and racist behaviors.

      In this new definition of anti-semite, you certainly don’t exhibit such behavior if you object to behaviors of Jewish contributors of 972+, or explicitly call for the punish and even death of any self-hating Jew. All such behaviors are not anti-semite, but rational and laudable.

      As several posters have noted, these right wing people realize inwardly, if not consciously, their days are numbered. The closer anyone gets to where their predominate world view is close to being seen by most as irrational and worthy of elimination, the more absurd, paranoid, and violent you become. I suspect a real Israel Spring may not be far away.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Piotr Berman

      Warren has a Luddite attitude to anti-Semitism. Modern criteria are a vast improvement over the worn old criteria.

      I quickly visited NGO Monitor website to see the fresh sample of most modern criteria. Someone was identified as an anti-Semite because he said (wrote? not clear) that he understand how someone could become anti-Semitic. In mathematics this is called “principle of induction”. Luckily, Prof. Gerald Steinberg does not give a hint that he understands anything.

      I think that Mark Twain was a great anti-Semite. He advocated stripping prose from adjectives. This would make official statements of NGO Monitor pitifully short, bland, their defense of the Jewish State unimpressive and that could lead to delegitimization and that satisfies modern criteria. Well, the died before the need of Iron Wall of Adjectives was foreseen. But what a mighty wall it is!

      Left is radical. Views are “biased one-sided perspective”. “Interference in affairs of another sovereign state is a blatant violation of democratic norms.” By the way, congratulation to 972+ crew! Your 6000 Euros became an affair of state!

      By the way, I must confess to be born in another millennium and I experience a surfeit of modern criteria. It is not just anti-Semitism that was thoroughly modernized, but also “democratic norms”, “affairs of state” etc. For old-timers like me, NGO Monitor should offer glossary of their newest criteria and definitions.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Rachelle Pachtman

      You cannot know how greatful many of us in the U.S. are for the work you all do. +972 is a desperately needed insurance against complete insanity. Truth will prevail although it looks like quite a long wait. You are next on my list for a contribution.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Steve

      First, an honest observation:

      A massive amount of Jew-haters and people who seek Israel’s destruction or removal from existence are huge fans of all the same group: Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Max Blumenthal, Ben White, and 972 magazine

      And my question: Why do you think this is?

      Anyone promoting the “one-state solution” like Mya and some others are not on the side of peace, they’re just on the side of wiping Israel out so the Jewish people have no homeland

      Reply to Comment
    24. Shaun

      …”the 15 bloggers, two editors and dozens of guest writers and photographers who have contributed to the site in the last 18 months represent a variety of voices…”

      AS long as they are left of mainstream left…

      Reply to Comment
    25. Steve

      To Warren Metzler:

      What do you think finding 10 or 15 Israelis who hate and criticize Israel infinitely more than most Israelis accomplishes?

      Very few Jewish Israelis want a “one-state solution” that ends Israel’s existence as a Jewish homeland. Yet a big stack of them are right here. What does this say to you?

      There is nothing “right-wing” about wanting the world’s only Jewish state to be safe and continue to exist, hopefully forever, as a Jewish state. The Muslim states want to exist forever too. Same with the ethnic states. Japan isn’t looking to become Chinese anytime soon. Italy isn’t looking to merge with France. States want to keep existing. But somehow a bunch of people who pretend to be “peace activists” want the world’s only Jewish state erased, and it’s pretty crazy

      Reply to Comment
    26. Steve, I admire your capacity to invent phenomena. A real democracy is one where EVERYONE has the same rights; those universal human rights granted by God to everyone.

      So any country in the world that has a government, supported by a population, that says this country is only for those of a particular ethnic group, or religion, or culture, cannot be a democracy, regardless of how hard it tries to claim that is so. And not being a democracy will unavoidably progressive and steadily descend into the only other possible human form of government: a form of fascism. And that is exactly what is occurring in Israel.

      This “homeland for the Jews” is a euphemism for “we are the greatest, and this superiority image ingrained deep in our bones has resulted in constant oppression in many lands in which we lived; but instead of getting rid of that unwarranted view of superiority, and learning to co-exist in peace and harmony with our neighbors in every country in the world in which we live, we’ve decided it was pure racism and we need a homeland where we can protect ourselves from all such oppression; and that fact that we did the same things to the natives of that land, and continue to do them to this day, as was done to us for 2,000 years is ignored by us as too difficult to defend given our claim to be civilized, democratic, and western in our morals and motives.”

      It is not crazy to want to get rid of a Jewish state, it is rational, peace oriented, and the only way to save the Zionists from eventually destroying themselves. Keep that Jewish State, and eventually you will have leaders who make Lieberman look like Gandhi.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Jan

      THe question is Who is funding NGO Monitor and why do they want to censor voices that question or condemn Israeli policies?

      Does NGO Monitor support censorship in what is supposed to be “the only democracy in the Middle East?” Obviously NGO monitor doesn’t give a damn about democracy or free speech and they prove it with every one of their reports.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Steve

      Warren Metzler said this absurd nonsense: “This “homeland for the Jews” is a euphemism for “we are the greatest, and this superiority image”

      My response: No, the “homeland for the Jews” is the same as the homelands for the muslims, and the homelands for the Arabs, and the homeland for the Japanese, and the homeland for the Italians, and the homeland for ever other ethnic group that has a homeland. Every single one of these places favors the majority in some way to maintain their cultural identity in their home state.

      Unless, of course, you’re dishonest and bigoted against Jews. Then you make up dishonest accusations that Jews having a homeland is somehow about “superiority.”

      Reply to Comment
    29. Occupation seepage. As those occupied must behave correctly, so must we all. Your State has lived in war its entire life; now it fights itself.
      The first fight is here. If this one is lost, so too the others.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Ellen

      I just made a donation, which I hope keeps +972 up and running. I can’t say I agree with everything that appears on your site, but as someone who cares deeply about Israel and Israeli democracy, I know how few resources there are in English that express a range of opinions and challenge the party line expressed by American Jewish organizations in particular. Without freedom of speech, we’re all screwed. So thanks for being there.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Ellen

      Oops – I meant to say I hope the donation helps keep +972 up and running – obviously the donation of one person can’t do it alone.

      Reply to Comment
    32. “My response: No, the “homeland for the Jews” is the same as the homelands for the muslims, and the homelands for the Arabs, and the homeland for the Japanese, and the homeland for the Italians, and the homeland for ever other ethnic group that has a homeland.”
      Italy doesn’t require you to either convert to Catholicism or to provide proof of one Catholic grandparent in order to apply for citizenship. Japan doesn’t require would-be citizens to demonstrate that they have at least one East Asian grandparent and that they have never willingly practised a religion other than Shinto. In fact, the only country I know of with citizenship laws such as these is Israel.
      I could be wrong. Maybe there are other countries like this. If there are, they are every bit as wrong for having them as Israel is.
      Refusing to base citizenship laws on blood and belief and support for a Jewish homeland are not mutually exclusive, believe it or not. There are Jews who don’t experience their Jewishness as a national identity and who don’t want to be identified with a Jewish state or homeland. There are other Jews who support the concept of a Jewish *homeland*, but not of a Jewish *state*. There is a difference. Non-statist Zionists exist. These people might feel a strong affinity with the land, but they see nationalism as a corrosive that eats away at both that affinity and their Jewish identity rather than expressing or enhancing them. Such people might feel that their Jewishness is best expressed by a state for all its citizens, not a state where true belonging is contingent on ethnicity, belief, and the oppression of other people.
      +972’s contributors have varying attitudes to Zionism and it is only recently that debates on the one-state solution, etc. have been held. I’ve been following the site since its inception and I’m pretty confident in saying that such posts only make up a small minority of the content. Even if this weren’t true, and all the contributors were cheerfully launching attacks on Zionism morning, noon, and night, it still wouldn’t be acceptable for NGO Monitor to be attacking their donors. In a real democracy, people don’t have any reason to be afraid of ideas.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Piotr Berman

      I think that both Warren and Steve generalize a bit too much. Steve: “Every single one of these places favors the majority in some way to maintain their cultural identity in their home state.”

      So far so good. But even if it is an establish practice to “favor the majority in some way”, not every way has to be accepted.

      For example, the culture of the majority can be threatened (or perceived to be threatened) by an excessive number of shops run by a minority. Nevertheless a policy of breaking windowns in those shops would not be regarded as reasonable outside certain narrow circles.

      And now suppose that the majority is worried about the problem of too many dwelling being occupied by the minority. A policy of bulldozing those dwellings does not seem to be more reasonable than breaking windows in shops. Except for folks like NGO Monitor who finds that opposition to the policy of house demolition “satisfies the modern criteria of antisemitism.” And so is the opposition to reserving some roads for the use of the majority.

      I think (believe) that Israel does not HAVE TO resort to such policies and could exists like any other ethnic state. But NGO Monitors has a different opinion, and apparently Warren agrees. And he draws the conclusion that the concept of “Jewish State” entails supremacism.

      So here is my answer to Steve’s question: why many people support one-state solution. Because they believe Steinberg, Netanyahu and others that the Israel cannot survive as a Jewish State without many policies which are worse than breaking windows in shops, and thus it should not survive in that form. Instead, Hebrew speaking Jews may find some other ways of maintaining their cultural and religious identity, perhaps in so-called “one state”.

      However, to find such ways they would have to recognized that the current policies are no better than breaking windows in Jewish shops, and thus wrong even if they are supposed to have LIMITED DURATION, or are SUBJECT OF REVIEW, or VOLUNTARY.

      Reply to Comment
    34. BOOZ

      @Vicky :

      All Italians adhere to the Italian founding lore (Starting from Dante Alighieri to Garibaldi & Mazzini)

      All Frenchmen regard themselves as part to the coronation of Clovis, Bastille Day, the upheaval of the Commune de Paris and regard Descartes, Blaise Pascal and Marcel Proust as their estate ( I should mention this is the case of my father, a Rumanian Jew enlisted in ’39 in the Foreign Legion to fight fascism, and made a French citizen in ’46).

      Likewise, the Jewish people are those who adhere in some form to the lore of Exit from Egypt and anything that comes thereafter. History has proven how much safer it is to secure this claim by means of the might of a state.

      And I can see no reason other than bigotry or racism to deny that claim.

      Reply to Comment
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