Not with my money

Is the money coming from Jewish donors used for purposes they support?

By LORI LOWENTHAL MARCUS
February 13, 2007 21:03
4 minute read.
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Some of the money mainstream Jewish donors think is being used to help preserve Israel as the Jewish homeland is actually being used to undermine Israel's existence as a Jewish state. Most American and other Jews use Jewish Federations as a kind of mutual fund adviser, which makes decisions about and invests their donors' funds in programs they have vetted and determined to be in accordance with the donors' wishes. In turn, most Federations channel funds designated for Israel programs through the Jewish Agency for Israel. (A very few, such as the Federation in Philadelphia, independently decide which programs in Israel to fund.) JAFI acts as a second-tier investment adviser for Israel programs. Three of the principal goals of JAFI are to develop Jewish communities in the Galilee and the Negev, encourage aliya, and promote Jewish continuity, with Israel as the linchpin. All three of those goals, however, would be considered illegitimate colonizing enterprises by at least one of JAFI's grantees - the Mossawa Center, an Arab-Israeli thank tank. Mossawa seems committed to eliminating every one of them. Mossawa, which is funded indirectly by the Jewish Agency, disseminated a report declaring that Israel cannot be both a democracy and a Jewish state. According to that document, which represents the view of many Arab-Israeli elites, and of Arab local authorities - as stated in a separate but nearly identical manifesto - the Jewish state is inherently illegitimate. It must be recast as a bi-national state. In addition to purging any identification with the Jewish people, Israel must also make reparation to, and elevate everything about, Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens, their culture, history, language and nationalist desires. Not sated by demanding such changes as de-judaizing the Israeli flag and national anthem, the document also calls for abolishing the Israel's Law of Return. At the same time, Israel must acknowledge and grant Israeli Arabs (and all their descendants) the "right of return" to the places from which they fled during the War of Independence in 1948. AND WHO provides financial support to the institution from which the report issued? In addition to the usual suspects, there are some surprises. The New Israel Fund is a non-profit organization which focuses on eliminating any special role for religion in either Israeli society or government. NIF grants reflect that orientation. One of the largest grants the NIF gave in the latest year for which information is available was to an organization it co-founded: the Mossawa Center. An NIF document states that organization's belief that efforts should be expended to prevent efforts to "judaize the Galilee and Negev." In other words, there is no part of Israel the NIF thinks should be, or remain, officially "judaized." More than 33 percent of NIF grants go to programs that exclusively serve Arab Israelis, and fully 40 percent of Shatil, NIF's "empowerment center" money is used for assistance to Israel's Arab minority. Those programs actively promote the erasure of any special status for Jews in Israel. But what about donors to Federations? It is unlikely that many consider the creation of Israel to have been a plot by the Jewish-Zionist elite to further a colonialist policy of "judaization" of Arab land through the "expulsion" of the Palestinian people, as it is described in the Arab Israelis' documents. Nor would many of those donors agree that the creation of the Jewish state was a nakba, or tragedy, that should be rectified through, minimally, the payment of compensation to Palestinian Arabs and the recognition that the Palestinians are "the indigenous people" of Israel; or that Arabic should be elevated to the status of "mother tongue." FEDERATIONS, the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee base their existence on Jewish support for Jews and, with respect to Israel, a Jewish state and the Jews who live there. Why would those organizations help undermine the birthright of Jews anywhere to become Israeli citizens, or to negate Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people? Yet a perusal of a recent NIF Annual Report reveals large donations from both the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint. In fact, the Jewish Agency is in the NIF highest-donor category, the one for those giving more than $100,000. The Joint shows up in the donor category of $25,000 to $50,000, as do the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. There are several other Jewish Federations in the $10,000 to $24,999 category, including those from Durham-Chapel Hill, Greater Los Angeles, Greater Atlanta, Greater Houston and that of New Hampshire. The Jewish Women's Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches appears in this donor category as well. IN OTHER words, rather than steadfastly working to support the Jewish nature of Israel, the Jewish Agency and other mainstream Jewish organizations, seem to be unwittingly helping to fund those who are undermining it. In the mutual fund business, when advisers do not follow an investment policy that accords with their clients' intentions, they can be sued for breach of trust. It is time for Jewish donors who wish Israel to remain a Jewish state - and there is nothing inconsistent with it being a Jewish state and a democracy - to scrutinize the actions of their investment professionals. The writer is president of the Zionist Organization of America, Greater Philadelphia District.

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