Ford Foundation sends millions to organizations that have celebrated Oct. 7 terrorist attacks

They make little effort to disguise their hostility to Jews and the state of Israel.

By Owen Tilman, The Washington Free Beacon

Shortly after Oct. 7, the president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, issued a statement on the foundation’s behalf.

Walker, who has been lauded by Laurene Powell Jobs as an “optimist,” a “realist,” and a “prophet who speaks truth to our world’s most troubling demons,” announced that the Ford Foundation would bankroll “immediate humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza and the Middle East.”

“Administered by our colleagues in the Middle East and North Africa regional office,” Walker said, “the resources will go to partners in the region to provide life-saving support and other essential needs to the affected Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

The statement referred to “tragic events” that had occurred in Israel and Gaza but made no mention of who was behind them, instead expressing concern for the “anguish, pain, and suffering that countless families are experiencing in Gaza at this moment.”

While the country’s leading universities have been under the microscope since Oct. 7, the nation’s top foundations have largely evaded scrutiny.

Both, however, sit atop multibillion-dollar endowments and exert enormous influence on American politics and public policy: The Ford Foundation alone oversees the disbursal of approximately a billion dollars a year.

Where is that money going? A review of grants disbursed by the Ford Foundation’s team overseeing the Middle East and North Africa, led by Cairo-based regional director Saba Almubaslat, shows that several of the foundation’s grants have gone to organizations whose employees, events, and projects celebrated Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack and decried the “Zionist entity.”

They make little effort to disguise their hostility to Jews and the state of Israel.

The foundation’s support for such organizations stands in stark contrast with Walker’s denunciation of Henry Ford, the foundation’s founder and a notorious anti-Semite.

Walker described the Ford Motor Company founder last year as “one of the twentieth century’s most virulent American antisemites” and argued that “all of us engaged in building a fairer, more just America ought to embrace our responsibility to speak out about this ancient strain of inequality—this category of caste—exactly as we call out racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia.”

Yet the Ford Foundation, under his leadership, has funneled more than $6.3 million since 2015 to two organizations—the Jordan-based Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), which is geared toward mobilizing “the untapped potential of … societies in the Arab region,” and Action for Hope, a Lebanese non-governmental organization devoted to providing “cultural development and cultural relief programs” to populations in distress—that are fanning the flames of the ancient hatred.

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The leaders of ARDD have not exactly made their views a secret. In November 2023, the organization’s executive director, Samar Muhareb, expressed “gratitude to the martyrs of Palestine because they have shed light on many important issues,” according to a press release summarizing her remarks at an event.

The organization held a panel discussion in November 2023 featuring a speaker, Dr. Anis Al-Qassem, who argued in favor of Palestinians’ “right of self-defense” up to and including acts of terrorism.

In fact, Al-Qassem argued, that category should not apply to “the Palestinian resistance.” Rather, the idea that Palestinian “resistance” constitutes terrorism is a “lie marketed by the United States and the occupation.”

He urged a lawsuit against the “Zionist entity” in the International Criminal Court, according to a press release from ARDD summarizing his remarks.

Muhareb’s X feed is a troubling series of posts alternately justifying terrorism and denouncing the Jewish state for combating it.

Most recently, she retweeted a post from U.N. special rapporteur Francesca Albanese eviscerating Israel for rescuing four civilian hostages from Rafah.

On Oct. 7, she retweeted a post arguing Hamas’s terrorist attack needed “to be put in context” given “six decades of hostile military rule.” A week later, Muhareb shared a post that accused the children of Holocaust survivors of perpetuating genocide in Gaza.

In January, she posted a photo of a group of Jordanian schoolchildren during “dress like a super hero day.” Most of the children, Muhareb noted without a hint of disapproval, came dressed as Hamas terrorist Abu Obeida, now sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for committing “widespread sexual and gender-based violence in a systematic manner” and “using it as a weapon of war” on Oct. 7.

Another Ford Foundation project has fanned the same sort of rhetoric in the arts. Action for Hope, the Lebanon-based non-governmental organization of which the Ford Foundation and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations are founding donors, published a collection of poems titled, “This is Gaza.”

Written amid what it describes as the “Israeli bombardment of Gaza,” several of the poems are dated Oct. 7, Oct. 8, and Oct. 12, before the sustained Israeli bombing of Gaza began.

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In fact, the collection includes a poem from Gazan writer Mahmoud Joudah dated Oct. 7, the day of the Hamas attack, in which Joudah declares, “Glory to you, Homeland that never dies.” He continues, “Today, Gaza soars in the sky … they have left us nothing but to explode, and so we do.”

While the collection is full of violent imagery depicting the suffering of Gazans, not one of the 22 poems featured makes mention of Hamas, its attack on Israel, or the murder and kidnappings of Israeli civilians.

Action for Hope touted the success of the publication, saying in the introduction that it amassed upwards of 7 million views on social media. “The videos and the texts were published widely on social media … and they reached a wide audience of more than 7 million viewers by the beginning of 2024.”

The Ford Foundation approved another $400,000 grant for the organization after the publication of the poetry collection, the latest installment of over $4.1 million it has sent the group since 2015. The Ford Foundation has sent $2.2 million to ARDD across three grants since 2017.

Action for Hope characterized Joudah’s Oct. 7 poem as “a responsive comment to the desperation of Gaza” rather than as praise for the Hamas attack and told the Washington Free Beacon that its “This is Gaza” project “aimed to provide a space for artists from Gaza to express themselves in line with our fundamental commitment to freedom of speech.”

At the head of the Ford Foundation’s grantmaking for the Middle East and North Africa is Almubaslat, whose social media postings and public writings mirror those underwritten by the Ford Foundation in Action For Hope’s collection.

On her personal blog, Almubaslat has, since Oct. 7, published poems in which she appears to justify violence to achieve “freedom” and sanction the use of Hamas tunnels to gain freedom. She also explicitly derides the notion that Israel is waging a war of self-defense, according to a translation of the blog commissioned by the Free Beacon.

“Dig tunnels with the remains of your bones that connect the earth to the sky. Flee through them to the light. Stay there,” she wrote in a poem dated Oct. 18.

“There is no palace outside Gaza,” an Oct. 24 post reads. “Everything out there has joined hell and decided to break the scale of justice by a decision and kill freedom under the pretext of self-defense.”

The poems also betray a dim view of the West. An Oct. 13 poem captures an exchange between a mother and sister in Gaza and their son and brother, respectively, based in an unidentified location in the West.

“We resist so that the sun may grow from our land every morning. We fight so that olives may bear hope from our soil,” the sister writes to her brother, Ahmed.

“They put a mark on my forehead. My tan is an accusation. My name is an accusation. My identity is an accusation,” Ahmed writes in reply. “All of it makes my blood permissible if a voice came out and said ‘Ah.’ They say it will not be erased until I acknowledge them and forget who I am. I will load their guns with my screams to shoot them.”

Almubaslat took her blog down after the Free Beacon reached out for comment. She did not respond to the request.

A Ford Foundation spokeswoman, Tolu Onafowokan, said the foundation “strongly repudiates any calls for violence, hate speech, racism, antisemitism, or Islamophobia,” adding, “If our grantees make statements that are not aligned with the foundation’s values, we take appropriate action, which may include termination of grant funding.” She did not respond to a request for comment about whether the foundation would continue to fund ARDD and Action for Hope.

Action for Hope and ARDD are both part of Ford Foundation’s Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) initiative, which includes a subset of grants specific to the Middle East.

Since its launch in 2015, BUILD has worked to “advance social inclusion and reduce inequality in all its forms,” according to the foundation’s website, and the foundation committed to spending $1 billion on BUILD grants between 2016 and 2021 and another $1 billion in 2022.

Onafowokan noted the foundation’s support for organizations devoted to combating anti-Semitism, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the American Society for Yad Vashem, and said the Ford Foundation had “initiated grants to organizations working to provide mental health, social services, and housing to the families of hostages of the October 7 terrorist attacks.”