"Stunning Reversal:" Ford Foundation Agrees to Stop
Funding Anti-Israeli and Anti-Semitic Groups

By Andrew L. Jaffee, November 21, 2003
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Because of pressure by a coalition of U.S. Jewsish groups and members of Congress, the Ford Foundation has agreed to stop funding anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic groups. The Foundation's activities contradicted its self-stated principles to "reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement". The organization at first denied charges it funded anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic groups. But Ford changed its tune after the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) published a series of articles exposing the Foundation's activities, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the Senate Finance Committee demanded an investigation, and the American Jewish Congress (AJC) announced it was considering legal action against the Ford Foundation.

According to the JTA:

In a stunning reversal, the Ford Foundation has admitted it erred in funding anti-Israeli Palestinian groups and has vowed to establish tough new guidelines to stop its funds from being used for anti-Semitic activities anywhere in the world.

The group said it was "disgusted" by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agitation action taken at the 2001 U.N. Conference Against Racism at Durban, South Africa, which the foundation helped finance.

"We now recognize that we did not have a clear picture of the activities, organizations and people involved," conceded Ford president Susan Berresford in a Nov. 17 letter to U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

I find it hard to believe that the Ford Foundation didn't know who it was involved with. It is more likely that their about-face was due to public scrutiny and bad publicity, especially in light of the fact that the AJC publicly questioned whether Ford's activities were legal under current anti-terrorism laws. For example, JTA disclosed that one Palestinian website funded by Ford contained links to the websites of terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

It should be noted that an investigation by NGO Monitor predates the work of the JTA, so let's give credit where credit is due. According to an NGO Monitor investigation published July 15:

A survey of the type of organizations that the Ford Foundation funds in the Middle East, available at http://www.fordfound.org/grants_db/view_grant_detail1.cfm, displays a consistent and marked preference for organizations with a fundamentally politically and ideologically anti-Israel emphasis. The Foundation has noble aims. However, in pursuing these aims, it has shown that a significant proportion of its funds go to supporting politicized organizations whose activities do not live up to either their own principles or those of the Ford Foundation. It is true, as will be illustrated below, that although many of these organizations pay lip service to the rhetoric of human rights language, their activities tell a different tale. As the following survey demonstrates, the Ford Foundation pours funds into tens of organizations whose principles operate in sharp contrast to the Ford Foundation's own guidelines, including a blinkered approach to human rights, the tacit support of terrorism against Israeli civilians and the de-legitimization of the right of the state of Israel to exist. ...

Yet after careful analysis it is clear that millions of dollars of Ford Foundation money budgeted for “community-based advocacy work” is being used to foster incitement and hatred against Israel. ...

According to Congressman Nadler's website, the Ford Foundation has issued a new set of guidelines to prevent further funding of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activities:

New language in Ford's "standard grant agreement" prohibiting both violence and terrorism, as well as bigotry and calls for the destruction of any nation-state;

A new KPMG-developed "risk matrix" to enhance grantee financial accountability. This risk matrix, which will automatically trigger an audit when certain financial accounting factors warrant, will be piloted in the Middle East and then used by Ford around the world;

A further review, in consultation with key American Jewish community organizations and others, of Ford grantees' actions at Durban
[2001 U.N. Conference -- hate fest -- Against Racism at Durban, South Africa; editor's note];

The termination of funding of one of Ford's Durban grantees: the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW);

A commitment to address the alarming rise of anti-Semitism via "significant regional and global program actions, particularly in the areas of human rights, anti-racism, and tolerance-building."

For anyone out there who thinks there's nothing one can do about the world, or utter cliches like, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," the Ford Foundation's policy reversal is proof that you're wrong. Things change when conscientious people get off their rear-ends and take action!

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