Palestinian Israelis constitute some 20% of Israel’s population and successive Israeli governments have acknowledged that, by comparison with other sectors of Israeli society, if not with Arabs in neighbouring countries, they have suffered decades of discrimination and neglect.
As Avishay Braverman, Israel’s Minister of Minorities from 2009-2011, said:
"Equality and partnership is not only written in our Declaration of Independence, it is not only moral, but it is also essential for the State of Israel, for its sustainable growth. If we do not do what is right and wise, we will be pushing the young Israeli Arabs into adversaries.“
That is why NIF funds and supports organisations such as Adalah, that have done and continue to do groundbreaking work in achieving equal rights for Palestinian Israelis.
Defending NIF's support of Palestinian-Israeli organisations in general, and Adalah specifically, former Deputy Attorney-General Yehudit Karp wrote on the Times of Israel website in March 2012:
“We can’t allow the attacks on Adalah to succeed. The survival of Israel’s democracy depends on allowing the voices of unpopular minorities to be heard. We, the majority, will not always like what Adalah has to say, or the light they shine on discriminatory practices. It doesn’t matter. Living up to our own best interests and values means that we must engage with our fellow citizens when they stand up for their rights. The attacks on Adalah may hurt that organization. In the long run, they will hurt Israel more.”
Palestinian Israelis cannot reasonably be expected to share the Jewish perspective on the Zionist narrative. For example, Palestinian Israeli human rights groups that receive NIF funding have called for Israel to become a bi-national Jewish-Arab state. NIF does not support that view (though some Jewish and Israeli organisations and thinkers do) but NIF considers it reasonable for this to be the subject of free and open debate in a democratic society.
If a grantee’s main activity strengthens Israeli society by promoting civil and human rights, pluralism and democracy, NIF will not cut it off on account of statements inconsistent with the Zionist narrative. In a similar way, NIF does not stop funding its Orthodox grantees, who think differently than NIF about the rights of gays and women. Free-flowing debate about such issues is not anti-Israel, it is Israeli democracy in action.