Who is the man behind the campaign?
Ronn Torossian is a PR consultant whom Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic has described as “the most disreputable flack in New York” representing “the lunatic-fringe of right-wing Israeli politics.” Not only does he have an ax to grind with us, he has been writing articles, like this one “Abe Foxman & the ADL: Taking Sides Against Israel,” lambasting other mainstream Jewish groups.
Gawker has a collection of stories covering his unethical — and potentially illegal — tactics.
What do the attacks look like?
This email would be far too long were I to provide a point-by-point rebuttal of every baseless charge leveled against NIF in these articles. But let’s take a moment to unpack two specific examples to give you a taste of his tactics. Both are from this article: New Israel Fund’s War on Victims of Terror
Example 1). The article implies that an attorney who advises a number of our Israeli grantees tried to prevent families of terror victims from receiving compensation in a civil action filed in a New York court.
The “damning” evidence? The Israeli attorney, Michael Sfard, testified as an expert witness in the trial.
Of course, there is no mention of the content of Sfard’s actual testimony – in which he says that suicide bombings should be considered “crimes against humanity.” Sfard also argues that those who are responsible for these crimes should both be punished and be forced to pay compensation.
This is typical. The very involvement of somebody, somehow linked with NIF, in a controversial case is pumped up as some sort of scandal, while the unimpeachable content of his involvement is ignored.
Example 2). The article claims that NIF “recently petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf [sic] terrorists and their families” and that “Hamoked, a grantee of the New Israel Fund, worked for terrorists.”
The real story behind Torossian’s twisted telling is quite different. It is about Israel’s civil rights champions pressing for policies that better respect individual rights.
Although there was no “NIF petition,” our grantee, Hamoked, did file a petition before an Israel court last year seeking to prevent the police from demolishing the home of the widow and orphans of a terrorist.
Clearly, punishing the family of a dead man for the crimes of the deceased is an act of collective punishment that violates civil rights. When this punishment is applied only to the families of Palestinian terrorists, but never to the families of Jewish terrorists, it is also discriminatory.
So the “charge” against NIF boils down to this: A group we fund asked an Israeli court to stop a policy of collective punishment that was being implemented in a discriminatory manner. People of goodwill can disagree about what the correct policy is. Some might argue that demolishing homes of deceased terrorists creates a deterrent effect that justifies the harm to civil liberties. But wherever you fall on the question, Israel is clearly a better place because Israel’s civil rights champions are pressing this debate.
How is NIF responding to the attacks?
First, when the manipulative information from one of Torossian’s articles reaches any mainstream audience, we work to correct the record by publishing statements on our own website and by providing any journalists researching the story with the information they need.
Second, we are reaching out to our core-community to tell them what is going on and to prepare them for future attacks.
Third, we are in consultation with our lawyers to determine if any legal action would be appropriate
Fourth, we are in direct communication with each of our supporters who Torossian publicly names and whose generosity he calls “shameful.”
It’s no fun to be named in this type of smear campaign. We are making sure that these supporters have the information they need to refute the allegations and are aware of who is behind the attack.
If you take a moment to look at the list of the donors that Torossian is trying to shame, you’ll see exceptionally moral people and leaders of the Jewish community, from the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies to the head of the UJA-Federation – not a bad group with which to be associated!
*New Israel Fund of Canada is a registered charitable charity in Canada governed by a Board of Directors. We are a wholly independent entity apart from New Israel Fund and its affiliates. All projects and initiatives are approved by the NIFC Board. This report has been prepared by New Israel Fund.