One Israel Fund: Providing safety and security for Israelis for 25 years

For more than 50 years, Jews from all across Israel, the United States and countries around the world have been making their home in an integral part of ancient Israel: Judea and Samaria.

July 31, 2019 13:20
One Israel Fund: Providing safety and security for Israelis for 25 years

Executive Vice President Scott Feltman with MK Tzipi Hotovely. (photo credit: ONE ISRAEL FUND)

For more than 50 years, Jews from all across Israel, the United States and countries around the world have been making their home in an integral part of ancient Israel: Judea and Samaria. For more than 25 years, there has been an organization providing necessities to the Jewish communities in that area: One Israel Fund.
This American philanthropic institution was formed immediately following the signing of the Oslo Accords, in order to provide a vast array of humanitarian needs for the communities scattered throughout Judea, Samaria and, at that time, Gaza. One Israel Fund helps fill Judea and Samaria’s medical, social and recreational gaps, in addition to providing critically needed security services.
In the American media, Judea and Samaria are often spoken of as “settlements,” which falsely calls to mind people living in some sort of temporary housing situation. This is far from the case. There are Jews living, working and praying in Judea and Samaria with the goal of staying there for the rest of their lives and raising their families there; some of these Jews have lived in their homes since the 1970s.
Many also think of the residents there as only being Orthodox. While there are strong and vibrant Orthodox communities – both modern-Orthodox and Haredi – there are equally strong and dedicated secular communities as well. Regardless of how these communities refer to themselves, One Israel Fund serves them all equally.
There are certain things in life that Jews in the Unites States take for granted. For example, playgrounds for children, or community centers. However, because the communities in Judea and Samaria do not receive funding from many European and North American Jewish philanthropies, they count on the money that One Israel Fund raises to provide safe and enjoyable playgrounds where children can play and parents can socialize. The community centers supported by the One Israel Fund enable children to grow up in an environment where they can thrive by playing music, participate in sports, and realize their creative potential through art and dance.
In fact, One Israel Fund has raised more than $50 million since it began in the 1990s. While that may sound like a lot of money, it is spent quickly as these communities’ needs have increased.
At the helm of this successful organization is Scott Feltman, One Israel Fund’s executive vice president since 2007. Feltman has worked in the Jewish nonprofit world since 1992, and originally worked as One Israel Fund’s director of development. When I asked him what drew him to work for One Israel Fund, he told me that his father, a US Armed Forces veteran who had served in World War II, was an ardent Zionist. Feltman’s father was involved in the underground movement to smuggle arms into Palestine before the State of Israel was declared. Feltman, who spent extensive time in Israel in the late ’80s and early to mid-’90s, said he was drawn to One Israel Fund by its mission to improve and protect the lives of those living on the frontlines.
One major focus of the organization is their healthcare initiatives. One Israel Fund has provided communities with GPS-tracking defibrillators to save residents suffering cardiac arrest. The nonprofit is also vigorously working to raise funds for additional ambulances, both standard and armored. Nearly half a million residents reside in Judea and Samaria, and these ambulances provide life-saving emergency services. However, sometimes the care offered by emergency medical workers on site is not enough, but unfortunately, travel takes valuable time to the nearest hospital.
Thus the organization’s next major initiative is raising funds, in cooperation with the Binyamin Regional Council, to build the Binyamin Medical Center. The facility will be state-of-the-art, providing care to more than 75,000 residents living in 45 communities in the Binyamin region of Samaria, the largest regional council in the country. It will provide both primary urgent care, as well as general medical care.
At this time, urgent care is only accessible for these residents at hospitals and emergency rooms in Jerusalem. When there is an emergency due to a terrorist attack or something as commonplace as a heart attack or automobile accident, ambulances have to travel through hazardous road conditions to get to Jerusalem, sometimes taking more than an hour. This new full-service medical facility will integrate all regional medical and emergency resources. Funds raised will enable the center not just to open but to stay financially solvent. Moreover, the medical center will create many employment opportunities.
When I asked Feltman what he was most proud of concerning the organization, he said that One Israel Fund has “saved countless lives, added greatly to the growth and vibrancy of each and every one of the 150 communities, and done all this while maintaining the highest level of efficiency of nearly every charity in the United States, as evidenced by its eight consecutive years receiving the coveted 4-star rating by Charity Navigator — America’s largest and most utilized charity evaluator.”
 Feltman said that each year One Israel Fund impacts more than 200 unique projects and is inundated with new project requests from communities, regional councils, institutions and organizations. The organization manages to do all it does with a staff of fewer than 10 people and a devoted board of trustees.
“It is overwhelming but incredibly fulfilling to accomplish as much as we do,” said Feltman. “The more funding we have available, the more of these projects will be completed.”
Although the people who live in Judea and Samaria feel safe on a day-to-day basis and have good relationships with many of their Arab neighbors, Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, “is living in a tough neighborhood.” For that reason, there are always security concerns.
In 2016, there were numerous arson attacks throughout Israel leaving many citizens injured and homeless. More recently, there have been kite and missile attacks. One Israel Fund has raised funds to upgrade fire equipment along the southern border as well as throughout Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. For small-to medium-sized fires, fire trailers are extremely effective and reduce harm to people and property in high-risk areas. In fact, these fire trailers are so effective that the Defense Ministry has offered to match 50% of all funds raised for this project in some areas.
Unfortunately, arson is just one of many tools that terrorists use. Camera surveillance systems create a more secure atmosphere for Jewish communities and provide an effective deterrent to terrorist attacks. One Israel Fund’s support enables sophisticated equipment to be purchased to increase efficiency of civilian response and security teams.
According to Feltman, one of the many things One Israel Fund is proud of is supplying more than 300 armored vests to the civilian security chiefs throughout Judea, Samaria, and along the southern border with Gaza. These vests also allow emergency medical responders to have adequate protection in the region. Even more incredible was learning upon completing the project that the IDF intends to replace the remaining 4,500 vests for each of the civilian first-response team members, based upon the unique vest design created by One Israel Fund.
If you asked any veteran security officer what essential item is most needed to keep people safe, they would tell you “communications systems.” Quality communication allows for quick responses, calls for backup, and the ability to disperse information. It is vital for security teams in Judea and Samaria to have modern communications technology, and One Israel Fund has sponsored extensive mapping of communications deficiencies and provided new relay stations in Kiryat Arba and Beit El.
It is estimated that it will cost $180,000 to install more relay stations across Judea and Samaria, so that the coverage of communication devices can be expanded. This would improve reception throughout the area. The organization also plans to aid in the purchase and distribution of new handheld communication devices for civilian emergency responders and ambulances.
Thanks to the generosity of the organization’s donors and the determination of its staff, One Israel Fund is helping ensure that Israelis are kept healthy, secure and connected, regardless of where they reside within the homeland. With One Israel Fund’s support, tens of thousands of Israeli families are living in thriving communities that are shaping Israel’s future.

The writer is based in New Jersey and writes for The Daily Wire, the Washington Times and other news and opinion outlets

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