The New Israel Fund (NIF) is a left-of-center grantmaking nonprofit which supports left-of-center social goals related to Israel. The organization refers to the Israeli Declaration of Independence as a philosophical foundation.
The NIF is legally based in the United States but primarily focuses on developing Israeli civil society. The group has founded and funded more than 900 Jewish organizations with over $300 million around the world since its founding in 1979. 
The NIF is generally supportive of the Israeli state but takes a left-of-center to left-wing view on most Israeli political issues, including advocating for a two-state solution and opposing Israeli settlement in territory claimed by the Palestinians. The NIF has been harshly criticized by many right-wing sources and critics, including Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for supporting organizations which by degrees oppose Israel or some of its essential aspects. The NIF has consistently defended its grants by advocating for pluralistic voices in Israeli society, though it has on a few occasions ceased funding groups, for instance, for supporting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel.
The New Israel Fund’s guidelines for grantees include that they must “respect and support the democratic nature of the state of Israel,” “refrain from partisan political activity,” and “cannot advocate violence or the destruction of the state of Israel.” 
The NIF operates the Progressive Jewish Fund, a donor-advised fund. 
In 2021, the NIF gave hundreds of grants, most of which were for tens of thousands of dollars. Its largest recipient, which received over $700,000, was Breaking the Silence, an Israeli non-profit which opposes the Israeli settlement of Palestinian territories by recording the stories of ex-Israeli soldiers who served in the territories. 
New Israel Fund has been criticized for funding organizations that are critical of Israel or supportive of Palestinian interests. In 2010, the NIF was criticized by the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu for giving $29 million to non-Zionist Arab-Israeli groups. These recipients include sources for the Goldstone Report, a controversial United Nations fact-finding mission in Gaza that was highly critical of the Israeli military. The NIF responded that it makes grants to some groups with whom it does not entirely agree, but believes they are valuable voices to be heard. 
The NIF has previously funded the Coalition for Women of Peace and Mada al-Carmel, two organizations which support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and have made extensive criticisms of the Israeli government. The NIF stopped funding both organizations over BDS, though CEO Daniel Sokatch defended the rights of grantees to criticize the Israeli government. 
The NIF has funded Adalah, an Arab-Israeli group that has “expressed views inconsistent with support for Israel as a Jewish state.” The NIF defended the funding by praising Adalah’s leader for his support for human rights, particularly in Palestine. 
Alma Biblash, the executive director of NIF grantee the Human Rights Defenders Fund, has called Israel “racist,” “murderous,” and an “apartheid state.” 
In 2016, NGO Monitor produced a list of 25 NIF grantees that NGO Monitor claimed engaged in “political activities related to the demonization of Israel.”  A 2010 NGO Monitor Report identified numerous NIF grantees who appeared to violate NIF’s grantee guidelines, including Mada al-Carmel which advocates for ending Israel’s identification as a Jewish state, and Mossawa, which calls for the end of the Israeli flag and national anthem.  The NIF countered that NGO Monitor is a “mouthpiece of the extreme right” with “no regard for objectivity or transparency, and only disdain for democratic process and open debate.” 
In July 2014, ten NIF grantees launched a campaign demanding that the United Nations Human Rights Council charge Israel with war crimes. 
The New Israel Fund has received funding from the Leichtag Foundation, the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, the Everett Family Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Jewish Women of Palm Beach, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 
Positions and Advocacy
In 2013, New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch said the NIF is not a “peace group” and has no position on many of the issues concerning the conflict between Israel and Palestine. However, he stated that the NIF supports a two-state solution in accordance with its democratic principles. The organization also opposes the continued settlement of territory claimed by the Palestinians by Israelis.  The NIF has expressed concern with racism and “ultra-nationalism” in Israeli society as a result of the ongoing conflict,   and supports full legal equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. 
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been highly critical of NIF. According to Haaretz, he has “an obsession with the NIF has become almost a joke among his critics. When something doesn’t go his way, it is this organization that routinely becomes the scapegoat for his failings.” 
For instance, in 2018, then-Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly blamed the NIF for sabotaging an agreement between Israel, the United Nations, and Rwanda that would have seen Rwanda to accept African deportees from Israel. Five NIF grantees wrote letters to the Rwandan government asking it to refuse the deportees to force Israel to live up to its legacy of accepting refugees. Soon after, Rwanda backed out of the deal. The NIF made the statement: “If such a letter led Rwanda to cancel an agreement, it’s a failure of Israel’s foreign policy.” 
The NIF has funded many groups which have advocated for reforms in the Israeli government. In the late 1990s, NIF grantees supported Alice Miller, who successfully petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice to allow women to apply for air force flight training.  In 2011, an NIF grantee won a lawsuit at the High Court which ended gender segregation on public buses. 
Also in 2011, the NIF raised $35,000 for a protest attended by 150,000 Israelis. The “social justice” protest was largely unfocused but left-wing oriented. The NIF was the only major Israeli nonprofit to support the protest. 
The NIF supports “freedom of and from religion” in Israel and opposes what it characterizes as the “ultra-Orthodox monopoly on religious life.” In practice, the NIF supports virtually all Jewish communities regardless of sect or geography, with the exception of highly Orthodox Jewish groups that have allegedly used government power to obtain privileges over others. 
The NIF supports reducing “wealth inequality” as a means of “safeguarding democracy.” 
In 2019, the Zionist Advocacy Center (TZAC) sued the New Israel Fund for allegedly violating its tax-exempt status by engaging in “electioneering” in Israel. It claimed NIF did this by advocating for social justice policies. TZAC often brings lawsuits against organizations that are critical of Israel or supportive of Palestine. In 2021, a New York federal court threw out the lawsuit.  
New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch was the founder of the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the executive director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.  Sokatch has attracted criticism for commenting that the anti-Israel BDS movement is not inherently anti-Semitic. In a 2021 interview, Sokatch simultaneously praised Israel for maintaining a democracy, while acknowledging that it allegedly had elements of an apartheid state. In the same interview, he suggested immediately halting Israeli settlements as a gesture to foster a two-state solution, though he acknowledged there was no chance of this occurring. 
In 2018, David Myers became the board president of the NIF. Myers left his previous position as CEO of the Center for Jewish History amid controversy over an article he wrote in which he said he only opposes “most forms” of BDS and that he is “fully cognizant of the destructive nature of Israel’s occupation.” Myers advocates for a “sane center” between unequivocal support or opposition to Israel.