Temple Israel of White Plains’ support of an Israel boycott

The most effective stick for beating Israel over the head is often a Jewish stick.

A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File] (photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)
A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File]
(photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)
In a letter which was distributed to all members of Temple Israel of White Plains, New York, Rabbi Gordon Tucker notes that a Temple Israel donation to the New Israel Fund was earmarked for Ethiopian refugees and made via his rabbinic discretionary fund. In the wordy two-page letter, Tucker clarifies that while a 2013 donation to the NIF was written from the shul, he personally provides financial and ideological support to the radical New Israel Fund. He neglects to inform his congregants that he is a leader of the organization, serving on its International Council.
Should synagogue funds – and a rabbi’s salary – go to an organization that supports a boycott of Israel? That is the question facing an 800-member synagogue in Westchester County, in an affluent New York City suburb.
Rabbi Tucker and the board, which has thus far unanimously defended him, should be ashamed of themselves for supporting the New Israel Fund, which advocates a boycott of Israel, actively opposes the IDF and just this week defended the families of Hamas terrorists in the Israeli Supreme Court. This radical, extremist anti-Israel organization has been called an “anti-Zionist organization” by the Likud and is opposed across the Israeli political spectrum.
While most American shuls pray for the IDF, this shul finances an organization that actively harms the IDF.
Tucker is joined on the NIF’s International Council by Avraham Burg, former deputy speaker of the Knesset who is now a member of the Communist Party (Hadash), and declared in Yediot Aharonot that “Zionism is over.” The NIF endorsed this vision a few months ago, hosting a speaking tour throughout the United States, where Burg discussed “The Struggle for the Soul of Israel.” Burg says the Law of Return which enables Jews to return to Israel and claim citizenship is similar to Nazi rule, and has called upon Israel to dismantle Yad Vashem.
Rabbi Tucker angrily claimed in his letter that “civilization and our survival as a morally healthy and functioning Jewish community” depends on civility, and that our accusations are “nasty” and “malicious.”
It is the NIF work of harming the State of Israel which is “nasty” and “malicious,” as well as divisive and lacking civility, as it lends support to the enemies of the Jewish people. Israel’s Left, Right and Center are unified in standing against a boycott.
Isaac Herzog, the left-wing leader of the Labor Party, noted recently, “For years, I’ve devoted efforts in the fight against the boycott movement.
We will fight to protect Israel’s good name.
This is a diplomatic intifada being waged by the haters of Israel.”
Yair Lapid, regarded as a centrist, said that the boycott “is not about policies, or about the settlements, or about the peace process.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, “The boycott generators do not see the settlements in Judea and Samaria but the settlements in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Beersheba, Haifa, and of course, Jerusalem, as the focus of the conflict.”
Netanyahu continued, “We must not cave in to the pressure, [we must] expose the lies and attack the attackers. We shall unite forces in Israel and abroad, expose our enemy’s lies, and fight for the Israeli citizen’s right to live their lives peacefully and safely.”
Tucker was a leader of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, aka The Jewish Alliance for Peace and Justice, which was a George Soros-funded organization that has merged into J Street. Brit Tzedek v’Shalom – similar to the NIF today – condemned the targeted killing of Hamas terrorists, defended the International Solidarity Movement and advocated unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and all of Judea and Samaria.
Even if it upsets Rabbi Tucker to say so, there must be a redline drawn against extremist organizations that advocate a boycott of Israel, whether from Natorei Karta or the New Israel Fund, even if the esteemed Rabbi Tucker of Temple Israel of White Plains objects.
We stand strong in our struggle against the New Israel Fund and its donors who harm the State of Israel. We say to the trustees and board members of Temple Israel of White Plains – President Ellen Salant, Ken Kanfer, Audrey Samers, Magan Schain, Sam Kahn, Joel Wolfson, Renana Rosenbloom, Bruce Wexler, Randi Kattan and Lewis Polishook – that by supporting Rabbi Tucker’s ability to financially support the New Israel Fund you are harming the Jewish state.
Vladimir Lenin called those who work against their own people’s best interests in support of their enemies “useful idiots,” and throughout history there has never been a shortage of people or groups from within the Jewish community who harm Jews. The most effective stick for beating Israel over the head is often a Jewish stick.
Rabbi Tucker’s note said: “The violation of all norms of Jewish civility and of Jewish ethics is breathtakingly brazen.” He’s right. Supporting the New Israel Fund is not Jewish civility or in line with Jewish ethics.
George Birnbaum is an international political consultant, who formerly served as chief of staff for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications, is a leading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents. His clients have included former president Bill Clinton.
Ronn Torossian is a New York-based Public Relations executive and author of For Immediate Release.