Avigdor Lieberman 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman sent a strongly worded letter to US Jewish leaders this week urging them to be wary of offering financial assistance to certain Israeli Arab groups.
"I salute the initiatives of Jewish groups to transfer funds to minorities in Israel," Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. "But it is important that the donations reach the correct hands."
Lieberman was referring to the Interagency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues set up recently by the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the New Israel Fund, the UJA-Federation of New York, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and the Alfred and Hanna Fromm Fund.
In the letter, Lieberman urged the various heads of those organizations to "verify that your generous donations are not used toward deleterious ends."
He also pointed out that "Israel has an unfortunate history of appeasing radical and disloyal factions, instead of strengthening loyal, moderate ones."
"Leaders who have chosen to ally themselves with Israel have paid a heavy price for their partnership. Even today, our betrayal of the South Lebanese Army and even of Palestinian collaborators who aid us in our fight against terror has proven that allegiance to Israel comes at no small price," he wrote.
He concluded by saying that "we must therefore reinforce the loyalty of our friends and allies, rather than strengthen the factions who identify with our self-proclaimed enemies, Hamas and Hizbullah."
"My suspicion is that with all the good intentions of American Jewry, the funds may end up falling into the hands of the minorities that do not identify with the State of Israel," Lieberman told the Post. "It is important to us that the alliance be strengthened with those who are loyal to the State of Israel and not aid those who prefer to support the Hizbullah and Hamas."
In response to Lieberman's letter, Kenneth Jacobson, associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said, "We all have to be careful on these issues, but I think that Israelis and Jews [everywhere] need to take seriously the issue of equality for Israeli-Arabs, which is important for all of us."
He added that "if he is trying to denigrate the whole effort, that's unfortunate."
Lieberman is known for his right-wing political views and has angered many on the Left with his program to put certain Israeli Arab towns under Palestinian Authority control and strip their residents of Israeli citizenship in the context of an international agreement.
"We received Mr. Lieberman's letter and on behalf of the Task Force, we thank him for his interest," said Jessica Balaban, its director.
"We are an educational body, not a funding body," she added, and noted that "each organization is continuing to act within its mandate."
She was unable to provide any specifics on programs undertaken by the task force's member groups or to list the Israeli organizations with which the American groups are partnering.