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Several dozen Jews converged on the sidewalk outside the 92nd Street Y Thursday evening, July 11, for the first in an ongoing series of protests that will be held in the same place, every second Thursday of every month. The protests will continue until the 92nd Street Y responds to repeated requests that it stop using Jewish communal dollars to showcase and support speakers and events that demonize Israel.
Two of the leaders of the global anti-Israel movement were scheduled to appear at the Y this spring. Roger Waters was scheduled to speak at the Y in April and Alice Walker spoke at the Y in May. Among many other hostile acts towards Israel, Waters and Walker teamed up in an attempt to block the Israeli Philharmonic from appearing at Carnegie Hall in October, 2012.
Richard Allen, the head of JCC Watch, told The Jewish Press that for months he and others have been attempting to have a conversation with the leadership of the 92nd St Y about their hosting people at the forefront of the movement to commit political and economic warfare against Israel, and, to add insult to injury, using “hard-earned funds” contributed by Jews who are led to believe that money would be used to support the Jewish community.
But the folks who run the 92nd Street Y won’t even give them the courtesy of a return phone call, let alone a meeting.
Allen’s response is to publicly expose what he calls “donor fraud, perpetrated not only by the 92nd Street Y, but also by other Jewish organizations which raise money from Jewish donors on the pretext that the money would be used to benefit the Jewish community. But instead, some of that money is actually being used to twist support against Israel, it is being used to actively promote attacks against the Jewish State.”
Many who came to protest what they claim is donor fraud carried Israeli flags and handed out flyers to people going into the 92nd Street Y.
The flyers described speakers who were recently invited to speak at the venue and who are leaders in what is known as the BDS movement – the movement which promotes the boycott of, divestment from and imposing sanctions against Israel. Hundreds of flyers were distributed Thursday night.
The flyers also described a new initiative by the group which they are calling the “Close Your Wallets” campaign:
It Is Time to “Close Your Wallets” to Jewish Organizations that Host & Promote Israel Boycotters. We’ll be there in blue and white on the second Thursday of every month to raise awareness of the 92 st Y’s history of hosting Leaders of the Boycott against Israel Movement. No Jewish funding for Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions against Israel!
Ronit Jacobs came with her daughter from New Jersey to join the protest.
“How can the Y host leaders of the BDS movement, which is a cult set on the destruction of Israel,” Jacobs asked Thursday night. “Not only do the BDS people seek to harm Israel, it is clear they don’t even really care about the ‘Palestinian’ people. If they did,” Jacobs continued, “they would be protesting the horrible treatment of Palestinian Syrians and Palestinian Jordanians and Palestinian Lebanese. But they don’t. All these people really want is to rid the land of all Jews.”
Others who showed up to Thursday night offered additional evidence that the 92nd Street Y is insufficiently supportive of Israel.
Robert Sidi, a Manhattan attorney, pointed out to The Jewish Press that he had “reviewed the Y’s electronic calendar and the only Israel-related programming is Israeli folk dancing. Now no one loves Israeli folk dancing more than I do,” Sidi said, “but it is a disgrace that the only thing about Israel the Y thinks is worthwhile is Israeli folk dancing.”
Helen Freedman, the executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel, and Judy Kadish, AFSI’s special projects director, were both at the protest Thursday night.
“Promoting hatred against Israel and Jews is not what public institutions should be used for,” Freedman said. “And yet, when AFSI offered to speak, to provide facts about Judea and Samaria, the Y told us we were too political.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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