New Israel Fund’s Daniel Sokatch exposes the bankruptcy of liberal Zionism

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Last week I wrote a response to an article published in Haaretz by Petra Marquardt-Bigman. In it, I criticized her decontextualized, vile and one-sided smear of the Tamimi family, which read like a propaganda document, not an article in a liberal outlet such as Haaretz.

But Marquardt-Bigman is an easy target. Her bias is so obvious that attacking the premises and motivations of her article was as easy as paddling downstream. Marquardt-Bigman’s piece is a perfect example of right-wing propaganda and its insidious nature – how it manipulates facts to drive an anti-Palestinian, pro-Zionist and ultimately racist agenda.

Earlier this week, I read another Haaretz Op-ed, this time by New Israel Fund (NIF) CEO Daniel Sokatch titled Netanyahu’s Real Target Isn’t Israel Boycotters. It’s Israel’s Democracy.

Sokatch echoes the liberal “opposition” to Netanyahu, and thus deserves scrutiny.

The title of the piece, plus the NIF slogan (‘Advancing and protecting liberal democracy in Israel’) are good places to start. Both position NIF as a vanguard for Israel’s “democracy”. Sokatch goes on to claim in his piece that “Israeli democracy is not dead yet”, but is that accurate? Was there ever a democracy in Israel? And if not, what is NIF truly a vanguard of?

According to the UN ESCWA report (Page 63) under the first of several ‘Recommendations for the United Nations’:

‘Each United Nations body should promptly consider what action to take in view of the finding that Israel maintains a racist regime of apartheid in its exercise of control over the Palestinian people, taking due account of the fragmentation of that people by Israel, which is itself an aspect of the control arrangements that rely on “inhuman acts” for the purpose of systematic racial domination.’

The report goes on to say (Page 64):

‘The “country” from which Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are excluded could arguably be Mandate Palestine as established by the League of Nations. The League’s intention was for it to gain independence as a State representing the shared patrimony of the entire multi-sectarian population of Palestine. That model, overtaken by events, was confused from the start by language about a “Jewish national home” and in any case was rendered moot by war, expulsion and other events on the ground. However, exclusive Israeli control since 1967 over all of Mandate Palestine has preserved the original geographical unit of Palestine. Hence the “country” in which Palestinians are being deprived of rights could be the Palestine that was never allowed to form, and arguably should form. The remedy in that case is to restore the standing of the original Mandate, which holds that the region is properly one country that has wrongfully been divided by racial agendas.’

Clearly, Sokatch is familiar with this report and the data it relies on yet chooses to ignore them. The only logical conclusion would be that he and his organization focus solely on the democracy afforded to the privileged among Israelis – the Zionists.

From this disingenuous jumping off point, Sokatch continues to reflect the liberal Zionist approach of “eating a slice of pizza, yet leaving the pie whole”. He makes an attempt to build an argument against the new blacklisting of organizations that support BDS by Israel, i.e. placing himself to the left of the government, yet with one big caveat.

Sokatch claims: “I, along with the New Israel Fund, oppose the global BDS movement that most of the blacklisted organizations support. But right now, it doesn’t matter what you think of BDS. Because that’s not the real issue.”

When someone claims “that’s not the real issue”, it is usually a good time to reevaluate that very issue. “Don’t be distracted”, Sokatch beckons, after which he goes into an exercise in hand waving and smoke screening.

But in fact, support or rejection of BDS is the only issue here and Sokatch is attempting to change the subject in order to maintain NIF’s image as a lefty/liberal organization, though it does not recognize Israel as an undemocratic, apartheid state, does not support BDS, and therefore serves as a tool for continued oppression of the Palestinian people, who overwhelmingly support the call for BDS.

Sokatch declares: “The government has to rely on a strategy of distraction because its own values are so obviously at odds with Israel’s founding values.” However, it is Sokatch himself, and the NIF by extension, who are engaged in an act of distraction in this article, for it is those very founding values, calling for equality and justice, which animate the BDS movement.

So why are Sokatch and NIF so afraid of BDS? It may be because BDS threatens the most fundamental premise inherent in Zionism – the supremacy of one group of people over another.

In the past week, Haaretz published two articles, which are seemingly at opposite poles of the Zionist political spectrum – Marquardt-Bigman’s and Sokatch’s. An analysis of these pieces demonstrates that regardless of several important differences in their approaches, both advance an agenda meant to preserve privilege for Zionists in Palestine/Israel and maintain the oppression of the land’s indigenous people – the Palestinians. Importantly, they demonstrate that there is no worthy left-wing discourse within the Zionist political spectrum, and certainly nothing meriting the term “opposition”.

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It’s no mystery that the NIF is a Zionist organization (albeit of the kinder, gentler persuasion). As I indicated in this thread last February, the organization’s FAQs state: … The New Israel Fund was founded more than 30 years ago to actualize the vision of Israel’s Founders, that of a… Read more »

“It’s a mistake, we want what’s best for the Jews in Israel.”
There, I fixed it Mr. Sokatch.

It is said that there were Germans in Germany during the period 1933-45 who were upset or outraged by the racism and other inhumanity of the Holocaust and Nazi oppression of all its other victims : First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I… Read more »

In the past week, Haaretz published two articles, which are seemingly at opposite poles of the Zionist political spectrum – … these pieces demonstrates that regardless of several important differences in their approaches, both advance an agenda meant to preserve privilege for Zionists what else could they do? opposite poles… Read more »

Daniel Sokatch has a long history of calling himself “progressive” on Jewish issues, going back to his younger days in Los Angeles, while serving the interests of the most right wing Israeli interests and, serving them better than right wing advocates of Israel, because he appealed to mostly Christian progressives… Read more »