In the warm summer of 2011, a twenty-something Israeli named Daphne Leef set up a Facebook protest page agitating against the high cost of housing in Tel Aviv. She pitched a tent and helped touch off a social protest movement that received national and international attention.
While the protests were billed as grassroots, there was nothing grassroots about them. The protests had been organized and funded by the New Israel Fund. Daphne Leef worked as a video editor for the New Israel Fund.
In the winter of that same year, as the protests had died down, a woman named Tanya Rosenblit boarded a bus which runs through religiously hyper-conservative neighborhoods and staged an incident with the passengers. Rosenblit was dubbed an Israeli Rosa Parks and her stunt helped generate waves of articles about major social problems in Israel.
Rosenblit was associated with One Voice, an organization funded by the New Israel Fund, whose board included Alon Liel, the husband of New Israel Fund director Rachel Liel. Hardly had the NIF gotten through manufacturing one phony social protest movement than it was hard at work on another.
The pattern in both social protests was traditional divide and conquer methodology that pitted the segments of society against each with the goal of creating maximum disruption and mobilizing warm bodies to call for political change.
The New Israel Fund is the local Israeli version of Soros’ Shadow Party and it receives money from Soros. The Liels are the ultimate insiders. Rachel Liel worked as the Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Services in the Ministry of Labor and Alon Liel was the Director General of two ministries and a foreign affairs advisor to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Their real program is to bring the left to power.
As the mothership organization of the Israeli left, the New Israel Fund seeds funding to smaller NGOs, which go out and do their community organizing best to carry off the same sort of social conflicts on a communal level, mobilizing protests, manufacturing outrage and recruiting local activists to embed their agenda into a communal identity.
This program is a vital one for the Israeli left which has no voting base left to cling to. The Labor Party, once the dominant establishment, has become a shadow of its former self, forced into a coalition with the ruling conservative Likud Party. To understand their plight, imagine if the Democratic Party lost almost all its seats in Congress.
The Labor Party had alienated Israeli immigrant groups and the country’s religious population. The only minorities willing to vote for it were Arab Muslims, which wasn’t enough to keep it in power. The fringe left-wing parties meanwhile attracted the local version of the Berkeley vote but couldn’t get past their small number of parliamentary seats.
Most plans to revitalize the Israeli left as a political force beyond the ministries and organizations still controlled by its bureaucracy hinge on giving it a political base in Israeli society. While the Western left’s parties have become successfully identified with immigrants and identity politics, the two primary immigrant groups in Israel tend to skew conservative.
The current center-right consensus in Israel is reflective of Israeli society. Disrupting that consensus to create a mandate for change is the agenda of the New Israel Fund. Class warfare was the obvious opening shot.
The social protests in Tel Aviv allowed the left to return to its roots as class warriors. Among other things it was a test bed for Occupy Wall Street, which adopted a similar strategy of mobilizing bored students to camp out in public in urban areas and shout slogans about the rich and the government. But if the Tel Aviv campouts made thematic sense as a protest against housing issues, the same tactic adopted by Occupy Wall Street made no particular sense as the movement had not actually managed to coherently focus on housing. But the Tel Aviv protests helped create a conceptual bridge between the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.
While the social protests are still going in Israel, and Daphne Leef is still desperately trying to get someone besides the media to pay attention to her, the movement never recovered from the return of Gilad Shalit. The heavy involvement of the media in creating momentum for the protests could not be sustained in the wake of the return of Israel’s most famous cause célèbre. However the left has done the next best thing by recruiting Gilad Shalit’s father to run for a seat in the Labor Party list.
As summer turned to fall and then winter, class warfare campouts had to give way to something else. Israeli winters are not terribly cold, but you wouldn’t want to be sitting in a tent in Kings of Israel Square right now, with the temperature below 50 and the rain coming down. It’s much more comfortable in a bus.
Religious warfare followed class warfare as the next phase of the NIF’s manufactured conflict. It was an effective strategy because it divided groups within the conservative coalition government, splitting apart Religious Zionist, Russian and Ultra-Orthodox Parties. Simply causing chaos wasn’t enough. The strategy was to gain a foothold in conservative communities.
It’s no coincidence that Tanya Rosenblit is the daughter of Russian immigrants or that the Beit Shemesh clashes between Religious Zionist and Ultra-Orthodox communities fighting over which of them has the right to an area school building are conveniently situated to embed NIF activists within those communities into the breach.
The NIF’s support for terrorists and hostility to Israel makes it persona non grata in those communities. But its NGO’s composed of local activists can go where the NIF itself can’t. On one video, Rachel Liel discussed the NIF’s new strategy of going beyond creating conflict and adding “voices from within the community” who can speak the language. This strategy of infiltration is vital to the rebirth of the Israeli left which has become too dogmatically inbred and too hostile to the survival of the country to be able to connect with the larger public.
An organization whose local head was quoted as saying that Israel will disappear and be replaced by an Arab state, is not likely to gain much currency among groups who have rejected the left for exactly that attitude. To create the Left 2.0 that is of so much concern to Labor strategists, those groups have to be taken over from within, their dialogue hijacked and their communities radicalized through conflict and confrontation. Through the social chaos and radical activism promoted and funded by the NIF and George Soros.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.