Monthly Archives: May 2010

SF and Boston: Jewish Charity Blacklists and the Israel Question

What do Jewish Voice for Peace, Madre, Amnesty International, New Israel Fund, American Friends Service Committee, Media Matters and Institute for Policy Studies all have in common?

There has been a growing backlash since the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation first announced the most restrictive funding guidelines in the country. The guidelines essentially ban recipients from giving voice to anyone who doesn’t toe the line (which the Federation ultimately determines) on Israel. No wonder the Bay Area Jewish intellectual class is in an uproar. As UC Hebrew and Comparative Literature professor Chana Kronfeld says, “All the major Israeli writers would probably be banned.”

The Open Letter to Jewish Communities in the Forward signed by Bay Area Jewish academics, rabbis  and other leaders, as well as coverage in Tablet, the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the New York Times reveals the extent to which concern about ideological policing is now a concern not just for the left but for the Jewish center.

However, what is not generally known is that the Fed’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund has also quietly pulled a number of nonprofit organizations from their acceptable charities list in an apparent attempt to ensure ideological purity.

What are those groups? Using a bit of technical sleuthing (and a tip-off from a donor), we’ve been able to pinpoint thus far 6 nonprofits that have been pulled from the list: Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, the Institute for Policy Studies, Madre, Global Exchange, and the National Lawyers Guild. There is no reason to think there aren’t more – we will publicize those names as they become available. This means supporters of these groups who keep funds in the Endowment Fund can no longer designate them as recipients.

Even more interesting, one can still designate money to the Hebron Fund, FLAME, and extremist settler militia funder, the Central Fund of Israel.

The implications of this new battle that mirrors the war on human rights groups in Israel haven’t been lost on Boston activists who, within weeks of the announcement of the SF guidelines, launched their own Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies witch hunt. (See embedded PDF file/link below-all articles from Boston’s Jewish paper, the Jewish Advocate.) Even The David Project founder Charles Jacobs weighs in on these so-called enemies of Israel: The American Friends Service Committee • Democracy Now! • The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) • The Tides Foundation • Media Matters • The New Israel Fund • Brit Tzedek v’Shalom • Physicians for Social Responsibility • The Workmen’s Circle • Amnesty International

Meanwhile NGO Monitor’s Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a man who never met a human rights organization he didn’t hate, is speaking this week at the Annual Conference of the Association for Israel Studies, at the University of Toronto on “Delegitimizing Israel: Can Jewish Philanthropy Change the Tide?”

Proposed Jewish Charity Blacklist in Boston: Not Pro-Israel Enough?

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Joseph Massad: Latest witch hunt target at Columbia University

Jared Maslin has written this must-read article for Electronic Intifada about just the latest target of right-wing crazies at Columbia University. This time it is aimed at Professor Joseph Massad:

Specifically, a student group at Columbia called Campus Media Watch (CMW), backed by the pro-Israeli media monitor the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), recently violated university regulations while urging students to “report” on allegedly biased utterances by Massad and other professors, according to faculty members and students.

According to documents, news reports and interviews with students and professors familiar with the incidents, documents and news reports, Columbia senior Daniel Hertz falsely claimed this semester to be a registered student in the class “Palestinian and Israeli politics and societies.” Hertz criticized the content of the class on CMW’s website, and urged other students to report on any perceived bias in Massad’s teaching.

Hertz’ father, Eli E. Hertz, is a prominent pro-Israeli businessman and activist, who among other roles, serves as the chairman of CAMERA’s board and sits on the Executive Council of the powerful Washington-based pro-Israel lobby group the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

If the university administration does not take a firm stand in the case, professors and students argue, the incident could hamper freedom of expression in the classroom. The apparent attempt to eavesdrop on Massad’s classroom also coincides with a resolution denouncing the professor introduced in the New York City Council (Res 0050-2010, 3 March 2010).