As the Israeli Knesset election looms on March 17th Fox News reported that the bi-partisan U.S. Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee of Homeland Security and Government Affairs may be engaged in investigating Administration funding of OneVoice. It is an NGO linked to the Israel-based V15 anti-Netanyahu field effort headed by veteran Obama Campaign official Jeremy Bird. The Fox report noted:
A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the panel’s activities told FoxNews.com.
The fact that both Democratic and Republican sides of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have signed off on the probe could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, who has had a well-documented adversarial relationship with the Israeli leader.
The development comes as Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel Two television station this week that there were “governments” that wanted to help with the “Just Not Bibi” campaigning — Bibi being the Israeli leader’s nickname.
It also follows a FoxNews.com report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu. A spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican and chairman of the committee, declined comment, and aides to ranking Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, did not immediately return calls.
The Senate subcommittee, which has subpoena power, is the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ chief investigative body with jurisdiction over all branches of government operations and compliance with laws.
“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the American group, which bills itself as working for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to the [Fox]source, the probe is looking into “funding” by OneVoice Movement – a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants and until last November was headed by a veteran diplomat from the Clinton administrations, [former Carter Administration Advisor on Middle East Policy and Clinton Ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsburg].
Ginsberg, who has described the administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “window of opportunity,” is now serving OneVoice as “special advisor” after resigning as CEO at a time that turned out to be just ahead of the early December announcement of the Israeli election.
“I resigned on November 11, 2014, because I had only committed to serve as CEO for one year and my resignation was effective December 19, 2014,” he wrote in an email to FoxNews.com. “I agreed to be available after that as a Senior Adviser on an occasional basis to the organization…along with many others, but have had ZERO decision-making authority over personnel, budgets, programs, etc. That responsibility was transferred to the Executive Director of the OneVoice Europe organization after I resigned.”
Frank Curtis, a New English Review contributing editor and colleague had more about OneVoice and Bird’s connections with the Israel based V15 (“Victory”) “anyone but Bibi” support group in a Feb 2, 2015, The Commentator article “Netanyahu should be shown respect by the White House”:
Bird has begun advising V15 on its Tel Aviv campaign, with the intent to recruit thousands of volunteers to go door to door canvassing for anti-Netanyahu parties. V15’s collaborator OneVoice is a group that describes itself as an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians. OneVoice claims to have 600,000 Palestinian, Israeli, and international signatories. Its president is Daniel Lubetzky, son of a Holocaust survivor, who was born in Mexico City in 1968, and is now a wealthy businessman based in the U.S. He apparently has funded the activity of Israeli peace groups, and is actually the founder of one of them, PeaceWorks. V15 and OneVoice are active in the attempt to defeat Netanyahu.”
Aaron Klein, veteran Israel-based investigative reporter has interviewed the head of the OneVoice offices in Tel Aviv and filed several reports on both Klein On-line and the WorldNetDaily. He reported the February 1st, 2015 injunctions claims by Likud officials raised by Prime Minister Netanyahu and filed with the Israel Election Commission:
“Accus[ing] V15 and other related nonprofits of being supported “through millions of dollars funneled from Europe, the U.S., the New Israel Fund and international factors interested in bringing down Prime Minister Netanyahu” who think “that all means are appropriate.”
The Likud further called for Israel’s Central Elections Committee to outlaw V15′s activities to “ensure the integrity of the election.” The party today will be filing an official complaint with the Committee seeking an injunction against V15.”
Klein reported OneVoice spokesman in Israel saying:
Uri Wollman, V15′s spokesman, said his organization will not stop its campaign to ensure a center-left coalition forms the next government in Israel.
Wollman accused Netanyahu and the Likud of “fabricating” a relationship between V15 and the Obama administration.
“We have no relation to any U.S. political party, the White House or the State Department,” Wollman told [Klein].
However, Wollman revealed to Klein that in addition to OneVoice Movement founder Lubetzky, the grass roots efforts were being funded by two other philanthropists: “S. Daniel Abraham, the Palm Beach based billionaire founder of the Slim Fast food line. Abraham is a major donor to the Democratic Party and the Clinton Foundation and [Israeli ]Alon Kastiel, a Tel Aviv-based businessman and owner of multiple local venues, including bars, clubs and hotels.”
Klein’s further investigations uncovered another possible get out the Anti-Netanyahu vote effort directed at Israeli Arab voters by The Abraham Fund. Like OneVoice, The Abraham Fund had been given a three year grant by the U.S. State Department of nearly $1 million to improve Jewish Arab relations in Israel. Klein noted an Abraham Fund news release on January 21, 2015 announcing the launch of a non-partisan turnout the vote campaign to increase participation in the upcoming Knesset elections with a focus on conferences at colleges and in media and advertising to enhance Arab integration in the election process.
Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon reported on January 27th, Christina Taler, State Department Grant officer for OneVoice saying:
“ We’ve formed a partnership with [V15], but it’s important to know we’re absolutely nonpartisan,” “Our biggest emphasis and focus right now is just getting people out to vote.”
When Klein asked Nimrod Dweck, Founder of V-15 in OneVoice’s Tel Aviv office about why Bird and the 270 Strategies team of Obama Campaign operatives were hired to ‘get out the vote’, Dweck responded:
Israelis don’t know how to run field (operations) as Americans [do], and that was the major contribution of Jeremy’s team. Bird provided very professional help about how to organize, manage people, how to go door-to-door, how to talk to people on the street. It’s a matter of finding the right professionals. And if I need to pick the best professional in the world for the job, [Bird] knows what he is doing. 270 [Strategies] is a great company.
State Department funding of both the OneVoice/V-15 and the Abraham Fund is potentially aiding the anti-Netanyahu Arab and leftist Jewish vote in the “anyone but Bibi” campaign. V-15 has hired the Jeremy Byrd of 270 Strategies, former Obama campaign field organizer coupled with funding by wealthy U.S. Democratic contributors and Israeli Zionist Union supporters fueling the tight race for control of the 33rd Israeli government on March 17th. Given today’s Fox News report it has also led the U.S. Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee to address complaints by Senate colleagues and Prime Minister Netanyahu of U.S. Administration interference in these critical elections, the results of which will be the basis of coalition negotiations to form the next government.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.