UK Jewish charity says claims it is interfering in Israeli elections are false

UJIA director Michael Wegier made it very clear to The Jerusalem Post that his group is “an apolitical organization that takes no position on UK or Israeli politics” whatsoever.

By JERRY LEWIS
February 24, 2015 00:52
2 minute read.
Tzipi Hotovely

Hotovely holds up screenshot of Labor website with V15 link.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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LONDON – Britain’s principal Israel charity, the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), has firmly rejected claims that it is interfering in Israel’s forthcoming general election by ‘partnering’ with a group seeking to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with someone from the political Left.

UJIA director Michael Wegier made it very clear to The Jerusalem Post that his group is “an apolitical organization that takes no position on UK or Israeli politics” whatsoever.

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Wegier was commenting on claims made to the Post that UJIA’s past funding for the One Voice organization had compromised its political neutrality and that he leads a Jewish charity “that appears to be involved in the political efforts to unseat Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

Susie Dym, spokesperson for Mattot Arim, an Israeli grassroots organization, had complained that because of the UJIA’s links with the One Voice organization, it was possibly contravening the UK’s strict charity laws over political involvement.

Dym wrote UJIA that, “It would appear that your UK Jewish charity is organizationally linked to funded political efforts to unseat Israel’s prime minister.”

One Voice, based in the United States, has been accused along with other organizations of funding efforts to replace Netanyahu with “the Israeli Left” in the country’s upcoming election.

Mattot Arim maintained that because of One Voice’s admission that it is one of the funders of ‘V15’ (i.e. Victory 2015), an organization aiming to unseat Netanyahu), the UJIA is siding with groups determined to see Netanyahu replaced with a more left-leaning administration.

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But Wegier indicated that Mattot Arim is clearly on the wrong track and that such accusations have no basis in reality.

He told the Post: “I can confirm that UJIA gave seed funding to One Voice UK over a decade ago and has had no funding relationship with them since.” He also explained that there is a difference between the One Voice organization in the US and the branch that operates in the UK.

He added that One Voice UK, along with many other organizations that reflect a very wide range of diverse opinions, speaks in UK schools as part of UJIA’s educational programming.

But he emphasized that the UJIA itself has no funding arrangements with One Voice UK or One Voice USA and he reiterated that the UJIA is an apolitical organization that takes no position on UK or Israeli politics.

Dym said that for the UJIA to be apolitical, it must distance itself entirely and promptly from One Voice. She applauded UJIA for having themselves removed from One Voice’s list of partners that appears on its website, calling it “a good first step.”

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