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Innocuous-Sounding Fund Bankrolls Violent Settlers

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.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, chairman of the National Security Council since March, was a board member of the Independence Fund from the day it was founded. Notification that he was no longer on the board was conveyed to the registrar of companies in May, two months after his appointment in the Prime Minister’s Office. Amidror told Haaretz Magazine, however, that he has not been involved in the fund for more than a year, and that when he was on the board he did not support the activity of Tatzpit.

“The moment I felt that I could not accept everything that others in the fund thought should be done, I left,” he says.

A year after the founding of the Independence Fund, a not-for-profit body with the identical name in English was established in the United States. The two groups were supposed to work together, but because of differences went their separate ways. At the beginning of 2010, after two years of inactivity, the Israeli organization “came back to life.” This was the period in which the left-wing New Israel Fund was under assault from various quarters, and for the IIF this was an excellent opportunity for self-promoting PR.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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