Kenneth Abramowitz (center) at a Westchester County, New York event for the Israeli military (Photo: Israelsoldiers.org)
The narrative that Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition is “cracking down” on those wild West Bank settlers is falling apart with Haaretz‘s revelation that the leader of Netanyahu’s political party passed on information about Israeli military movements to settlers seeking to block moves against outposts.
What’s more is that a separate Haaretz investigation published over the weekend reveals that Kenneth Abramowitz, a New York-based millionaire and the national chairman of American Friends of Likud, founded an organization linked to recent settler attacks on the Israeli military. Abramowitz is also a board member for the major US fundraiser for the Israeli military, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. In addition, Abramowitz is a major donor to Likud Knesset members Yisrael Katz and Yuli Edelstein.
These revelations further blur the line between the settlers and the state–and also indicates that the Netanyahu government’s recent moves against radical settlers is a show for the international community. Close friends and members of the Likud Party are the very same people linked to the recent settler attacks on the Israeli military.
The Haaretz piece was written by the crusading Israeli journalist Uri Blau, who only recently returned to Israel after being threatened with prosecution for his journalism. Some choice excerpts from Blau’s piece:
The announcement was posted three weeks ago at 1:23 in the morning on the popular Israeli website Rotter.net (Hebrew only): “Tonight again, warning about [Israeli] forces in Samaria. Roadblocks in the direction of Yitzhar.” The post continued: “Tatzpit [Observation] news agency reports that police and army forces are now deployed across Samaria. The report received by Tatzpit cites roadblocks in the Yitzhar area. It is also reported that right-wing activists who followed a police convoy that was traveling toward Samaria were detained by the police.”
This wasn’t the only report by Tatzpit in recent months that was aimed at updating activists seeking to block the possible evacuation of settlers in the West Bank. Forty-eight hours earlier, during a wild night that saw right-wingers invade the base of the Ephraim Brigade, Tatzpit reported on its Facebook page: “The police forces have just stopped between Shilo and Eli. The forces are escorting two bulldozers, a bus and jeeps.” Also: “Jinspot junction near Ramat Gilad has been blocked to movement of Jews. The fear of demolition tonight is mounting!”
Who solicits donations for this group, which aids the right-wing struggle against the Israel Defense Forces? An investigation by Haaretz Magazine finds that the donations to Tatzpit and to several other right-wing groups pass through an organization called the “Israel Independence Fund [Hakeren Le’atzmaut Yisrael] – Public Benefit Company Ltd,” founded in 2007. The chairman is Nachman Eyal, from the settlement of Psagot, a well-known activist who is also the director general of the National Union party. One member of the company’s board of directors is attorney Dafna Netanyahu, the prime minister’s sister-in-law…
The [Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a branch of the Israel Independence Fund], which in 2010 received donations totaling NIS 940,000 (an increase of nearly 50 percent over the previous year), is headed by the same Nachman Eyal of the IIF. About NIS 870,000 was donated in 2010 to the Legal Forum by the Central Fund for Israel (AK: see Mondoweiss’ reporting on CFI here), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization – a conduit for the transfer of funds to right-wing groups in Israel – and about NIS 40,000 came from the IIF…
A U.S. millionaire and illegal land grabs
In 2008, the Israel Independence Fund was founded in New York. The nonprofit’s declared areas of activity are philanthropy, volunteering and distributing grants. The person behind the fund is Kenneth Abramowitz, a New York businessman and partner in NGN Capital, which describes itself as “a venture capital firm dedicated to health-care investing.”
Abramowitz is also national chairman of American Friends of Likud and donated thousands of shekels to the campaigns of Yisrael Katz and Yuli Edelstein in the last party primaries. He also appears on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “list of millionaires” − i.e., potential donors to Likud’s 2007 primaries. The existence of the list was exposed last year by the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
Abramowitz is also a hefty donor to Israel’s Media Watch (in which Dafna Netanyahu, as mentioned, is a member). The donation is used to fund a journalism prize in his name. At the awards ceremony last year he said that apart from the freebie Israel Hayom, financed by Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the media in Israel are not objective.