Watchdog Alleges U.S. State Dept. Interfering in Israeli Elections

An Israeli watchdog organization, NGO Monitor, which seeks to track foreign funding of radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Israel with a Leftist agenda, has taken aim at the U.S. State Department. They are charging the State Department with funding a campaign with the purpose of defeating current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the upcoming March elections.

An American-based organization called OneVoice International, which claims to be an “international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians,” has received two grants from the State Department over the last year. The group is cooperating with Israeli Leftist organization V15 in its anti-Netanyahu campaign.

The Washington Free Beacon broke the story in the U.S. after the newspaper Haaretz first reported it Monday in Israel. OneVoice development and grants Officer Christina Taler told the Free Beacon: “No government funding has gone towards any of the activities we’re doing right now whatever.” But she also admitted that the State Department grants had been used to “build public relations support for the negotiations” which Secretary of State John Kerry initiated last spring.

Taler says that the cooperation will be limited to voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, but will not otherwise be overtly political:

We’ve formed a partnership with [V15] but it’s important to know we’re absolutely nonpartisan. Our biggest emphasis and focus right now is just getting people out to vote.

OneVoice International claims to represent “moderate” Israeli and Palestinian points of view, but one of its efforts last August reveals how “moderate” some of these moderates are. They sponsored an “Abbas not Hamas” campaign. This is oblivious to the fact that official Arabic-language media controlled by Abbas routinely praise attacks on Israelis and urge acts of violent protest and terror. Abbas’ son Yasser Mahmoud Abbas is on the OneVoice International advisory board. So much for the group’s moderation or objectivity: OneVoice International is a shill for Abbas.

OneVoice International has hired the consulting firm 270 Strategies headed by Jeremy Bird -- field director of President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign -- to “inform us better as a grassroots-organizing model,” says Taler. However, Haaretz reports that Bird will be involved directly with V15’s campaign, working out of an office in Tel Aviv.

It was Bird who suggested last week that Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress was related to Jewish Republican donors:

What do you think Adelson promised GOP in exchange for this insane BiBi House visit? Blatant attempt to bolster PM before elections.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, head of NGO Monitor, noted in a statement that this is not the first time that U.S. taxpayer funds have been used for political purposes in Israel. In 2012, USAID donated millions of dollars to Israeli NGOs under the so-called “Peace and Reconciliation Program,” which included support for the “Geneva Initiative.” This was a  draft “final status” agreement first released in 2003 by Israeli Leftists and Palestinians calling for Israel’s complete withdrawal to what late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban called “Auschwitz borders” -- the pre-Six-Day-War boundaries which had necessitated Israel’s pre-emptive strike in the face of constant threats and military provocations by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in the first place. The Initiative also called for the redivision of Jerusalem under UN supervision and the payment of massive compensation to Arab refugees and their descendants, with the alleged refugees given the option to resettle in Israel if they wish.

Steinberg’s group discovered the inappropriate U.S. funding at the time and publicized it, after which it was discontinued. It would appear that they’ve uncovered yet another such can of worms.