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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

Jewish Federations- stop funding settlements!


Hilltop youth build illegal outpost in West Bank. Screenshot: i24 News

APN Calls on the Jewish Federations of North America to Cease all Settlement Funding

By APN
November 07, 2017

In response to the October 30th Haaretz report that millions of tax-deductible donations to the Jewish Federations of North America go to fund projects across the Green Line, Americans for Peace Now sent a letter to JFNA leadership urging them to cease all funding for Israeli settlements. Read the full letter below.

November 3, 2017

TO: Richard V. Sandler
Chair, Board of Trustees

Jerry Silverman
President and Chief Executive Officer

William Daroff
Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Director of Washington Office

Dear Richard, Jerry and William,

With deep concern, we read the October 30th Haaretz report about the millions of annually distributed JFNA tax-deductible dollars that end up in West Bank settlements, across the Green Line.

Settlements threaten the potential for peace, endanger the security of Israel and IDF soldiers, siphon funds from Israel’s treasury, violate Jewish values, imperil Israel’s precious democracy, and harm Israel’s international reputation. At every level, they are a liability for Israel.

Quite rightly, the Jewish Federations of North America does not permit funding for construction beyond the Green Line. Unfortunately, however, JFNA amended its policy in 2002 to allow funds to settlers for “humanitarian relief and rehabilitation services,” and as research by Haaretz indicates, members of the Jewish Federations of North America have been playing fast and loose with this loophole.

Apparently, Federation dollars are funding settler causes that have nothing to do with humanitarian relief or rehabilitation services, whether it is evicting Palestinians from their homes in Silwan or Hebron or running schools built on privately-owned Palestinian land. Haaretz reports, for example, that the Jewish Federation of San Francisco has provided assistance to Central Fund of Israel. This organization finances a number of settlements, sends money to Honenu, a legal aid organization which helps Jewish terrorists convicted of anti-Palestinian violence or their families, and supports Haliba, an organization with the incendiary goal of reversing the status quo on the Temple Mount. The list goes on.


Illustration by Adi Emanuel

JFNA and local Federations deserve praise for channelling the impressive generosity of American Jews toward a plethora of worthy causes, including many progressive charities. It is vital that the Federations recognize that support for settlements is antithetical to the laudable purpose of promoting Jewish life and values.

We call upon you to do two things.

First, we urge member Federations to strictly enforce your policy of not contributing to building or maintenance in West Bank settlements, and we urge you to close the “humanitarian relief and rehabilitation services” loophole. Any funding for settlements, regardless of size or purpose, sends a disastrous message to Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans regarding the position of America’s Jewish community on Israeli-Palestinian peace and on Israel’s future character as a democracy and a Jewish state.

Second, we call upon you to increase transparency regarding the recipients of Federation funds in Israel and the Occupied Territories. JFNA funds spent through the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee, in particular, are notoriously opaque. Federation donors deserve to know the extent to which their contributions are supporting the settlement enterprise and should have full information necessary to be able to exert pressure for a change in practice.

Sincerely,

Jim Klutznick
Chair of the Board of Directors, Americans for Peace Now

Debra DeLee
President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now


In Historic Shift, Jewish Federations Representatives to Now Visit Israeli Settlements

By EJP (eJewish Philanthropy)
October 28, 2016

JFNA and its predecessor organizations have had a long-standing policy of not officially travelling beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.  In reality however representatives have already done so.
By Debra Nussbaum Cohen
Haaretz.com

Top leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America held a secretive meeting Wednesday to approve changing its policy of not traveling into the West Bank to visit Jewish settlements or Palestinian communities.

The conference call was led by JFNA Chairman Richard Sandler, who is executive vice president of the Milken Family Foundation in Los Angeles. Participation in the call was limited only to voting JFNA trustees, according to a memo sent by JFNA CEO Jerry Silverman to those board members, because “the issues under discussion are deemed privileged information.”

JFNA is the umbrella of 151 U.S. and Canadian Jewish federations and 300 small Jewish communities that don’t have Jewish federations. The powerhouse fundraising group raised $338 million last year, according to JFNA’s 2015 U.S. tax filing. Part of the money is disbursed for overseas needs through the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and, in Israel, primarily through the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Wednesday’s meeting was prompted by JFNA’s relatively new management of the Israel Action Network, a pro-Israel organization that works to counter the boycott movement and other forms of anti-Israel activity. IAN was, until six months ago, run by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The IAN runs an occasional trip for groups of rabbis and Christian ministers to Israeli and Palestinian communities and sites in Israel and the West Bank. The second such trip for IAN’s interfaith program Partners for Peace departs on Sunday.

A part of the trustees’ phone call, according to Silverman’s memo, was dedicated to authorizing “the entry of JFNA missions, including federation community missions planned through JFNA, into Israeli-controlled territories beyond the Green Line (e.g., Ariel or Gush Etzion, etc.).”

This had some worried. As the federation insider who tipped Haaretz off to the meeting said, “I’m worried about them normalizing the settlements.”

JFNA and its predecessor organizations have had a longstanding policy of not officially traveling beyond Israel’s 1967 borders, known as the Green Line. In reality, said one JFNA trustee involved with the meeting, JFNA’s practice has been to travel to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“JFNA has taken missions over the Green line. I went on one which went to Gush Etzion,” said the JFNA trustee. “The idea of missions is fact-finding and education. Everybody gets emotional about their political views on the territories. But we’ve done it before. Technically, if you go to the Kotel you just went over the Green Line.”

Following Wednesday’s meeting, the organization released a statement saying that “Today the JFNA Board of Trustees approved a number of appropriate and necessary protocols to support the advocacy and education trips of the IAN. This vote ensures that IAN will continue to travel to Israel and the surrounding areas, not historically visited by JFNA staff. We are pleased the board reaffirmed the ability of IAN to continue this mission-critical work.”

The trustee who spoke with Haaretz and who wished to remain anonymous said that “We’re now responsible for IAN’s trip and we want to make sure it complies with all the protections and protocols.”

In the IAN programme, ministers – mainline Protestants and Evangelicals, including local pastors and leaders of seminaries – are paired with rabbis. They commit to supporting two states for two peoples, and together they study and participate in social justice work around the issue in their local communities.

“It’s a way of healing the fractured conversation [about Israel] at the local level,” IAN director Ethan Felson told Haaretz.

Some of the rabbi-minister pairs travel with IAN to Israel and Palestinian-controlled territory. The first such trip was in March 2015.

“It took a lot of us by surprise that JFNA had a policy of not going into the West Bank. It seemed anachronistic,” said Felson. And, while Americans can hear Palestinians and Israelis speak in synagogues and churches around the U.S. from groups like the Parents Circle, which brings together people whose children have died as a consequence of the occupation, it is a totally different experience meeting them on their own land, he added.

“A Jew living in the West Bank will stand on a field and say ‘this is the land where Abraham lived.’ And a Palestinian will say ‘this land is my family’s farm.’ It changes the dynamic to say ‘this tent is where women from the Palestinian village and the Jewish settlement meet,’” he said. “You have to touch it. It’s the core of the conversation we want people to have if we want them to be peace builders.”

The IAN trip will visit Ramallah, Rawabi and Bethlehem, and meet with Palestinian leaders, as well as Jewish leaders in Israeli communities, said Felson.

In 2002 JFNA’s predecessor agency, called UJC, changed its policy to permit funding to Jewish communities in distress over the Green Line. The move, which occurred in the aftermath of terror attacks there, was quite controversial.

Some are now concerned that the shift in policy means that JFNA-run or organized missions will begin visiting Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The change in policy “is pretty shocking, because historically the Jewish organizations or federations themselves have so frequently had to defend their practice of not allocating resources beyond the Green Line and facing withering criticism whenever the Jewish National Fund or World Zionist Organization would expend funds to benefit the settlements,” said Richard Wexler, the former chairman of a part of JFNA’s predecessor organization.

Now a non-voting board member of JFNA, Wexler is known as a vocal critic of many JFNA endeavours. Speaking to Haaretz, Wexler said that “I imagine the criticism from the significant liberal element within the Jewish community will be very strong. Many will think this is some tacit recognition of the settlements.”

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is one of them. Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, recently ran a successful campaign compelling the JNF to disclose how much of the money it raises goes to fund projects over the Green Line.

“If a JFNA group visits Ariel and doesn’t also have the opportunity to visit Palestinians, that’s very much a missed opportunity,” Jacobs told Haaretz. She said,

“When you visit the settlements it’s important to say they are settlements. It would be a problem to visit Ariel and not mention that it is in an area under military occupation, and the impact on Palestinians, how Ariel’s location is a major challenge for the two-state solution, and the differences in the way Israel provides infrastructure.”

She offered to make sure that JFNA delegations see the whole picture when they visit over the Green Line.

“T’ruah has a programme to bring Jewish groups to Palestinian communities together with Breaking the Silence. I would be very happy to organize a trip like that for any JFNA group that wants to go to see the impact on Palestinians and also Israeli soldiers who risk their lives to defend the occupation.”

 

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