How the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Became a Major Donor to BDS

Founded by the five sons of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the philanthropy known as RBF has some $842 million at its disposal. It funds a broad array of philanthropic activities, including several anti-Israel organizations; it also played both direct and indirect roles in advocating the nuclear deal with Iran. Armin Rosen reports:

Since 2013, at least $880,000 in RBF funding has . . . gone to groups working to advance a boycott of the world’s only Jewish state. Supporters of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel see the RBF funding as validation of their approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . . RBF’s support for Jewish Voice for Peace and other pro-boycott groups, which is virtually unique among major American institutional funders, is either a sign that the movement is inching toward mainstream status on the American left—or evidence of a revealing drift within one of the most respected family foundations in America. . . .

It seems unlikely that RBF is funding pro-boycott groups from a place of ignorance, or because of lapses in oversight. Charities have a history of paying attention. . . . RBF is demonstrably [not] oblivious [of its support to BDS]. . . .The Fund hasn’t altered its practices, despite repeated public and private criticism, including a May 2016 op-ed in the New York Daily News. . . .

Starting in 2001, shortly after [the fund’s current president, Stephen] Heintz took over, RBF [also] began exploring how it could help repair the relationship between Iran and the United States. This was partly as a response to the September 11 attacks. . . . For the past sixteen years, the Fund has organized dialogues between prominent American and Iranian figures. These types of closed-door meetings, called “track-two diplomacy” in foreign- policy parlance, allow private citizens from different countries to discuss issues of mutual importance with a frankness and freedom that would be impossible for government officials. . . .

RBF’s efforts in this vein brought it into close contact with Javad Zarif, now Iran’s foreign minister and the chief negotiator of the nuclear deal; the foundation has also given generous donations to the National Iranian American Council and the Ploughshares Fund—two of the most prominent organizations that stumped for the Iran deal.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Zionism, BDS, Iran nuclear program, Israel & Zionism, Philanthropy

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin