US State Department Linked To Anti-Netanyahu Campaign
Update 12 July 2017: All of the suspicions raised in this Jan 2015 post were later confirmed through Senate hearings and other reporting. See this post from July 2016 for those details.
As we noted on Monday, Ha’aretz reported that Jeremy Bird, whose previous titles include National Field Director for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, Deputy National Director of Organizing for America, and South Carolina Primary Field Director and Ohio General Election Director for Obama’s 2008 campaign, will now be running an anti-Netanyahu campaign out of Tel Aviv through the group V15. The Washington Free Beacon is now reporting that OneVoice, a group that partners with Bird’s V15 in Israel, has received grants from the US State Department.
OneVoice said in a press release on Tuesday that it is teaming up with V15 because Israel “need[s] a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”
OneVoice International received two grants from the U.S. State Department over the past year, and lists the agency as a “partner” on its website. [OneVoice development and grants officer Christina] Taler said the group is not using this money for its Israeli election-related efforts.
“No government funding has gone toward any of the activities we’re doing right now whatsoever,” she said.
Taler said the group used the State Department grants to “build public campaign support for the [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations” spearheaded by Secretary of State John Kerry last spring.
The claim that State Department funds are being used to support negotiations, but not for the V15 campaign, is simply not credible. Dollars and staffing within an organization are fungible, and funding that may be earmarked for one purpose in an organization will simply free up the organization’s funding for a different purpose. Staffers are not likely to firewall themselves off from each other to ensure that their work only supports one purpose and not another.
Obama and his supporters are basically launching a two-pronged attack on the Israeli Prime Minister: they are attacking him in the US using well-worn antisemitic stereotypes and smears like those made earlier this week by Congressman John Yarmuth, and they are attacking him in Israel by sending US tax dollars to a group that is actively working to unseat him. Meanwhile, they whine that a fully transparent speaking engagement is a breach of protocol, and complain that it is Netanyahu who is interfering in US domestic politics.