US millionaire Kenneth Abramowitz funds settlers linked to attacks on IDF

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 17 Comments
Kenneth Abramowitz (center) at a Westchester County, New York event for the Israeli military (Photo:

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 (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.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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17 Responses

  1. seafoid
    January 9, 2012, 11:54 am

    From the Financial times, about the financial crisis but it fits Israel so well

    “Mancur Olson, a theorist on institutional economics…argued that nations decline because of the lobbying power of distributional coalitions, or special-interest groups, whose growing influence fosters economic inefficiency and inequality”

  2. Sin Nombre
    January 9, 2012, 12:18 pm

    Concerning the disclosures about Abramowitz funding settlers, Alex Kane wrote:

    “These revelations further blur the line between the settlers and the [Israeli] state…”

    Well, that’s one issue. But given that Abramowitz is an American it might seem to other Americans that they more importantly blur more than that.

    • seafoid
      January 9, 2012, 2:24 pm

      The endgame will see the liberal Jews and the Palestinians lining up to defeat the settlers and the Orthodox !!!

      • ToivoS
        January 9, 2012, 9:29 pm

        Seafoid, your comment brings to mind a possible one state solution scenario that I have played with as a pure mental exercise. Imagine a one person- one vote parliament. We would see a group consisting of secular Jews, Secular Palestinians, orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Muslims, Christian Palestinians of both secular and sectarian flavors, and miscellaneous Bedouins, Druze, and whatever. Imagine the power of an orthodox Jewish and fundamentalist Muslim coalition that comes together to confront the homo, atheist, feminist secular coalition. I think that would be great. The war between the Jews and the native Palestinians could disappear instantly. It would revert to that age old war our ancestors fought in Europe between believers and non-believers.

        I can’t say this would be a big improvement except that it would allow the US to quietly bow out of the resulting mayhem and let the natives battle on their own.

        Anyway, that just happens to be one of my fantasies for how this whole Israel mess is extricated from US foreign policy.

  3. Mooser
    January 9, 2012, 1:01 pm

    Wait, didn’t I just read a comment from “Jonah” saying that Israel, as a democracy, would deal with its “extremists”? That the “secular” Israelis would take care of the problem, and the “extremists” are “more isolated” every day?
    Wha’ happened Jonah? Maybe you need more secular atheist Israelis like “eee” to take care of the problem.

  4. Mooser
    January 9, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Alex Kane is doing one hell of a job at Mondoweiss, if you ask me. Of course nobody has, but if they did, that’s what I would say.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 9, 2012, 1:12 pm

      i absolutely agree! one hell of a job.

      • Mooser
        January 9, 2012, 1:51 pm

        “i absolutely agree!”

        Okay, you don’t have to rub it in, Annie. After all somebody might ask me about it someday. I mean, it is possible.

  5. dimadok
    January 9, 2012, 3:43 pm

    Simplicity of the analysis presented here is a very good example of generalization and smearing of any opponents to the views of the authors. In narrow view of the author, “settlers” are all the same, hence whoever supports Likud and settlement movement supports the attacks-here, one post more and we can call it a productive day.
    News website which reports the police activity is therefore directly supported the attack on the Efraim compound….
    It is the same as someone supporting black rights movement in US would automatically labelled as the Malcom X supporter.
    Education and personal intelligence are precious -keep on learning.

    • Shingo
      January 9, 2012, 4:07 pm

      In narrow view of the author, “settlers” are all the same, hence whoever supports Likud and settlement movement supports the attacks..

      They all share the same ideologyband agree to the sanecpolicy. The attacks are merely a case of members of the group taking matters into their own hands.

    • Mooser
      January 9, 2012, 4:15 pm

      dimadok, thanks for that precise demonstration of just how poor your reading comprehension is. The article nowhere says that Haaretz supports the attacks by the settlers. I can’t for the life of me figure out how you got that from the article.

    • seafoid
      January 9, 2012, 4:48 pm

      The settlers are all the same. Landgrabbing thieves . All Jewish.
      None of them paid for the land on which their houses stand. Parasitic behaviour that steals money from the education of Jewish Israeli kids, from the end of life care of Shoah survivors, from the poorest Jewish Israelis.

    • Mooser
      January 9, 2012, 6:07 pm

      “In narrow view of the author”

      Which “author are you talking about dummy? Crusading Israeli journalist Uri Blau, who wrote the article in Haaretz? Or is there something wrong with Alex Kane, for reporting on the Haaretz article.
      But I take well the point of your comment, dimmy: It’s anti-Semitic to say anything bad about Israel, even if you are just reporting on the work of an Israeli reporters in an Israeli paper.

      But I’m intrigued, dimmy, which settlers are not “all the same”. Which ones are the good land-thieves and law-breakers and which ones the bad land-thieves and law breakers? How can we tell them apart?

      • dimadok
        January 9, 2012, 11:44 pm

        Calling me names does not make your argument any better or you looking smarter. Please learn to respect the opponent first, then try to write something useful instead of ad hominem rambling.

  6. PeaceThroughJustice
    January 9, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Slightly off topic: Speaking of the Diaspora Korps, I came across an interesting full-page ad in the Times Literary Supplement, where full-page ads are relatively rare and which normally confines itself to academic books–

    A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism
    by Phyllis Goldstein, with foreword by Sir Harold Evans

    There are a few blurbs (“A tour de force of the one the most intriguing and disturbing phenomena in history,” says Brown University’s Omer Bartov), and across the top is splashed this headline–
    (Apparently there’s a hatred out there that doesn’t look like hatred, but with training we’ll be able to spot it. I’m guessing it sometimes looks a lot like criticism of Israel.)

    The publisher isn’t a university press, but something called Facing History and Ourselves.
    Their motto is “Combating racism, antisemitism, and prejudice and nurtures democracy through education programs worldwide.”

    Oddly the “About Us” section doesn’t give any names at all, but if you go to the annual report you can find the staff–

    Chairman of the Board of Directors is Seth A. Klarman, among whose credentials is Chairman of the Board of The David Project, and Director of The Israel Project.

    Also on the board and chairman of the Board of Scholars is Martha Minow (Dean, Harvard Law School).

    Having gotten this far, I just couldn’t bring myself to look up author Phyllis Goldstein’s history.

    • iamuglow
      January 10, 2012, 12:43 am

      I couldnt help myself

      From the site there is blurb about the book…

      “She begins with the first recorded incidence of antisemitism in 586 BCE, when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem”

      I lol. Not even the Babylonians are get a pass, from being called antiSemites.

      and then there is this which I assume is the objective of the book…

      “with a chapter on “Antisemitism Today,” in which she warns that it is “still a force in the world.”

      Somehow there is ad/article for it up on Huff which doesnt say much

      and an interview from their site

      she mentions what renewed her interest in the subject…

      “To Phyllis, “modern antisemitism” means the series of events that occurred in the wake of the 2001 attacks: the beheading of Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl, the murder of French Jew Ilan Halimi, outbreaks of violence on college campuses across the United States.”

      I would think if you were looking for the roots or motivation of “modern antisemitism” in the wake of the 2001 attacks, you’d have to talk about the Israel..but she doesnt mention it, somehow it all goes back to Spain in 1492 or 500 BCE or something that doesnt make sense.

      It seems like the publisher is targeting the book to schools…just another front in the war of ideas.

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