Israeli Arab group: Boycott Jewish aid

Ittijah urges Arab communities to refuse Jewish financial assistance, says the "money is political."

ittijah 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
ittijah 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
An Israeli Arab anti-Zionist group is calling for the boycott of Jewish agencies looking to contribute to Israeli Arab communities in Israel. The agencies, united under the rubric of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues, are in Israel on a three-day trip to study needs and opportunities for philanthropy in Israeli Arab communities in the Galilee and among Negev Beduins. The task force includes some of the largest organizations of the Jewish world, including the Conference of Presidents, the Joint Distribution Committee, the New Israel Fund, the UJA Federation of New York, the Anti-Defamation League and others. According to the Arab organization Ittijah, their call for a boycott of the funders' trip has already garnered results, with one clinic in Umm al-Fahm allegedly cancelling the funders' visit on Monday, and organizations in Sakhnin planning to do so on Tuesday. "We didn't ask for this money," said Ittijah general director Ameer Makhoul. "These funds come from American Jews who are committed to Israel, who see it as a Jewish state for Jews. This isn't philanthropy, it's political." According to Makhoul, "Israel doesn't need to be a state of the Jews, also according to the 1947 UN [partition] decision." Asked to elaborate, Makhoul added, "Self-determination doesn't mean Israel for Israelis. I was born in the Galilee, so I feel at home in Haifa. I'm not loyal to any state in the world. I'm loyal to my homeland, whether Israel rules it or a Palestinian state is established here." Makhoul said that an Umm al-Fahm clinic called off the visit, and Sakhnin will see a "partial cancellation." Jessica Balaban, director of the task force, denied the group's call was having an effect. "One clinic in Umm al-Fahm cancelled because it's still under construction. Otherwise, there have been no cancellations at all." The task force was established in April 2006, and unites some 70 Jewish federations, organizations, foundations and private philanthropists, mostly from North America, in an effort to help the social, education and economic situation of Israeli Arabs. Ittijah calls itself the "Union of Arab Community Based Organizations," and describes itself as a "union of Palestinian NGOs in Israel."