Arabs seek cover 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
An e-mail campaign criticizing the decision of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) to allocate part of the funds raised for Israel after the Lebanon war to Israeli Arabs is stirring debate in the American Jewish community.
The UJC, the umbrella organization of North American Jewish federations and communities, announced the Israel Emergency Campaign shortly after the war between Israel and the Hizbullah started in July. So far, the campaign has raised $330 million, a small portion of which - according to the UJC - is directed toward non-Jewish citizens in the North who have suffered from the war.
Last week, in an e-mail sent to hundreds of donors - and subsequently forwarded to thousands of others - a Jewish activist wrote that a third of the money raised in the campaign is going to Israeli Arabs. In her letter, Helen Freedman, a former director of Americans for a Safe Israel, asks the donors: "Did you think that a huge chunk of your donation would be given to the very Arabs who supported Hizbullah and danced on their rooftops in celebration whenever word came of Jewish soldiers or civilians killed?"
Subsequently, Freedman told The Jerusalem Post that Israeli Arabs constituted "a fifth column" and said giving them money was an "abomination."
She said she had based her statement regarding the funds given to Israeli Arabs on reports in the Israeli press and on inquiries she had made into the allocations of the money.
The e-mail campaign led the UJC leadership to say in a statement that only 3 percent of the funds went to Arab Israeli causes in the North.
"From its outset, the IEC [Israel Emergency Campaign] was aimed at assisting all vulnerable Israelis under fire from Hizbullah terrorists, whether Arab, Druse or Jews," the statement reads. It adds that the State of Israel has never applied "an ethnic or political litmus test to those in need."
"The author of this e-mail irresponsibly traffics in information that is blatantly wrong and misleading in an effort to further a separate agenda," UJC spokesman Glen Rozenkrantz said Wednesday. "Certainly, everyone is entitled to an opinion. But no one is entitled to spread information that is simply wrong to advance a personal agenda."
The UJC said it was "extremely proud" of the long-term and short-term programs the campaign supported "to help all Israelis."