Israeli right-wing group The Public Forum has recently released a video bashing the New Israel Fund in which it calls on Israelis not to vote for contenders in municipal elections who are supported by the U.S.-based non-profit.
The video, set in Israel of 2048, says that there are some candidates for municipal elections supported by the New Israel Fund, “the election of whom would endanger our common future.”
The film presents an imaginary scenario far in the future in which the name of the country was changed from Israel to “Israstine,” the prime minister is MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), the president is MK Zahava Galon (Meretz) and the Bible is outlawed. The film also features a high school named after Yasser Arafat, with a sign saying it was founded by the New Israel Fund.
The film calls on voters not to cast their ballot for candidates supported by the New Israel Fund and not to “help them destroy us.”
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The film depicts at teacher asking a student with a Bible: “How do you have this book? You’re simply a criminal. Because you’re still a minor, I have to report your parents to the police,” for giving the student the Bible. The teacher is then shown shredding the book.
The president and founder of the Public Forum, Itay Granek, until the beginning of this year headed Zehut, an organization that works to add Jewish identity content in secular schools, whose programs receive funding from the Education Ministry.
Many of the so-called Jewish identity centers run by the organization were headed by activists in the Habayit Hayehudi party, whose chairman is Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Granek is a member of the Habayit Hayehudi Central Committee and is considered close to Bennett and the latter’s party colleague Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Granek reportedly established the Public Forum in response to a group called the Secular Forum, which works to combat increased religiosity in public spaces.
The New Israel Fund responded: “The Public Forum is an entity with a clear political affiliation attempting to influence the municipal elections by spreading lies about the New Israel Fund. The New Israel Fund will work in legal channels against the Public Forum, which incites, lies and breaks the Election Law.”
In response to the video, NIF director Mickey Gitzin tweeted: “Itay Garnek, of Habayit Hayehudi, the man responsible for the 'Zehut' project that receives millions from government ministries of that party, [is conducting] a miserable campaign of lies and incitement about the involvement of the New Israel Fund in municipal elections. They have added a list of candidates for mayor, whom we don’t know, to try to actively influence the elections. A letter from a lawyer is on the way.”
The Public Forum responded: “We have been following the activity of the New Israel Fund and its branches in Israel for a long time. We will soon present shocking findings about the New Israel Fund’s involvement in the local elections in Israel. The New Israel Fund has placed fueling hatred between secular and religious people at the top of its priorities. Its people are doing everything to spark dispute and lead to civil war. We are here to expose the truth and stop the plot."