Rockefeller BDS and Campus Anti-Semitism


The New Israel Fund (NIF) recently received a grant to “research and report on anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses.” On the surface, this appears to be a welcome development — a progressive group being mobilized to confront a major social malady plaguing institutions of higher education.

Beneath the surface of the September grant, however, are vested interests seeking to use this issue to cover up its role in fomenting the atmosphere that is hostile to Jewish students. The NIF is being paid by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) — a main backer of the anti-Israel activism that contributes to, enables and devolves into anti-Semitism on college campuses.

RBF provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to a number of organizations that delegitimize the Jewish state and promote the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, both on and off campus.  Several of the RBF grantees promote agendas that deny Israel’s legitimacy and advocate “one-state” formulas designed to eradicate the Jewish state.

In other words, the New York-based fund has made the waging of economic, political and cultural warfare on Israel a central theme of its grant-making.

Many of RBF’s grantees are deeply involved in myriad anti-Israel activities, either by directly coordinating and participating in them or by providing training and legal aid to activists. Jewish Voice for Peace, for  instance, has chapters on campuses throughout the country and partners with Students for Justice in Palestine in promoting divestment resolutions and  organizing the notorious “Israeli Apartheid Week.”

As several in-depth reports and publications have shown, the marked increase in virulently anti-Israel activity on campuses throughout the U.S. has coincided with higher rates of anti-Semitism at these same institutions.

Considering RBF’s culpability in funding and enabling organizations that create this intimidating environment for Jewish students, it is curious that RBF would commission a publication that studies the rise of anti-Semitism at American colleges. Any serious publication would, ultimately, implicate RBF itself and cite its funding for anti-Israel campus groups and related  organizations.

Given RBF’s extensive funding of BDS and delegitimization of Israel, it is reasonable to ask if the fund is using its financial power to whitewash its grantees’ involvement in fanning the flames of anti-Jewish hatred. What is less clear is why NIF would lend its name to such a charade.

Yona Schiffmiller is director of the North America Desk at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute. This column was provided by

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