web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Where Do America’s Jewish Federations Draw The ‘Red Line’ On Opinions About Israel?

Richard Allen (center), head of JCC Watch, holds a burning check at a rally on Sept. 12 during which his group as well as Americans for a Safe Israel urged the cessation of Jewish donations to the UJA-Federation of New York, due to federation's lack of funding guidelines on Israel. (Credit: JCC Watch/AFSI)

Richard Allen (center), head of JCC Watch, holds a burning check at a rally on Sept. 12 during which his group as well as Americans for a Safe Israel urged the cessation of Jewish donations to the UJA-Federation of New York, due to federation's lack of funding guidelines on Israel. (Credit: JCC Watch/AFSI)

The “red line” associated with Iran’s nuclear program or Syria’s use of chemical weapons has sparked an ongoing international debate, in which both Israeli and Diaspora Jews have made their voices heard. But a debate that hits closer to home for American Jews is about where Jewish federations in their communities draw the line on funding programs associated with varying opinions about Israel.

Boston: In the Boston area, a recent test case for the local Jewish federation – Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) – revolves around its relationship with Leonard Fein, the founder of organizations including the National Coalition for Jewish Literacy, Moment magazine, and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. In an Aug. 24 column for the Forward, Fein called for a boycott of the Israeli city of Ariel, which is located beyond the 1949 Israeli-Arab armistice lines.

“Specifically, I believe American Jews visiting Israel should stay away from [Ariel], treat it as an offense against peace,” Fein wrote.

Fein been a guest speaker for CJP and has a long-term relationship with that federation’s leadership groups. Asked if that relationship would change due to Fein’s stance on Ariel, CJP Executive Director Barry Shrage said it would not, and regarding whether CJP is willing to continue to invite Fein as a speaker, Shrage said, “Sure.”

“Certainly an argument about settlements, and how to protest settlements and how to support settlements, is part of the daily life of the Jewish community that has a healthy ongoing debate about important issues,” Shrage told JNS.org.

While Shrage believes Fein’s call for a boycott of Ariel was “a very poor tactic,” he stressed that Fein is “a highly respected member of our community.”

“We’d be so much poorer a community if we drive out people like Leonard Fein,” Shrage said. “The future of the community is about binding people together.”

But Charles Jacobs, head of the Boston-based advocacy group Americans for Peace and Tolerance, believes CJP crosses a red line by continuing to work with Fein. Jacobs called the policy of welcoming a “big tent” of organizations and individuals with varying views on Israel a “slippery slope.”

“The CJP-certified Leonard Fein is now one more slip down the slope,” said Jacobs. “Leonard Fein, who in the midst of Middle East madness, where Arabs are murdering and gassing and torturing each other and each others’ wives and children, from Cairo to Damascus to Baghdad, blames Israelis for the lack of peace in the region.”

“Beholden to major donors, many of them on the left, it seems that some federations have become disconnected from the larger Jewish community,” Jacobs added. “So if CJP does not excommunicate Fein – if it has no red lines – it will show just how disconnected it has become.”

Shrage said CJP does have red lines. Advocating for the destruction of Israel or harming Israel are “stances that place people outside the community,” but Fein is “a Zionist” and working with him does not cross a line, despite his stance on Ariel, according to Shrage.

“The line here is whether you are anti-Zionist, anti-Israel,” he said.

Fein told JNS that while he called for a boycott of Ariel because its location 10 miles beyond the 1949 armistice line presents “a very distinctive problem” and “essentially destroys the possibility of a two-state solution,” he opposes the broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“I think each potential target of that kind of approach of boycott, divestment and sanctions needs to be treated on its own terms, on its own merits, or lack of merits,” Fein said, explaining that he disagrees with a movement that issues boycott calls “with a broad brush,” like the BDS movement does.

Manhattan's 92nd Street Y drew criticism for hosting anti-Israel activist Alice Walker earlier this year.

Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y drew criticism for hosting anti-Israel activist Alice Walker earlier this year.

New York: Shrage called hosting Fein a “far cry” from hosting BDS activist Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, who appeared at New York’s 92nd Street Y in May. The Y also scheduled an event this spring with rocker Roger Waters, the anti-Israel former member of Pink Floyd, which was ultimately canceled.

On Sept. 12, JCC Watch and Americans for a Safe Israel partnered on a protest outside the UJA-Federation of New York building that called for Jews to stop donating to the federation due to a lack of guidelines preventing federation funding of programming that gives a platform to anti-Israel voices like Walker and Waters. The Y receives $900,000 annually from the federation.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Where Do America’s Jewish Federations Draw The ‘Red Line’ On Opinions About Israel?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Pelosi turns her back on Netanyahu and Congress.
Netanyahu Says Israel Can Stand Alone – and Pelosi Turns her Back [video]
Latest News Stories
Tea Party radio host Andrea Shea King.

Andrea Shea King singled out the Black Congressional Caucus in a racist rant.

View of car after Jerusalem Arabs ambushed it Tuesday in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood.

One issue the anti-Netanyahu parties and their media boosters don’t talk about is daily terror.

The best Herzog and Livni can hope for, as of now, is a Pyrrhic victory.

The anti-Bibi barrage last week cost him a grand total of two seats, which went to other parties but not to Bujie and Tzipi.

Rav Ovadia's Robes

Rav Ovadia Yosef’s hat and robes made an appearance at a Shas political rally on Tuesday.

Don’t listen just to Bibi, President Obama, but to your own experts, right there in Washington DC.

She was brought to tears and “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warns the battle against Daesh, known as ISIS, has launched World War III, although the U.S.-led coalition fighting the terror group may not yet know it.

Pres. Barack Obama says Israel’s prime minister offered “no viable alternative” to the current deal with Iran. Here’s how it lines up.

Dozens of Democrats gathered to spew a stream of venom before the cameras Tuesday at Israel’s prime minister after his speech to Congress.

Eli Beer stunned the 16,500 AIPAC conference participants by arriving on stage with lights and sirens blaring on an ambucycle, a specially equipped motorcycle ambulance designed by United Hatzalah to speed up emergency response times.

Israel’s PM Netanyahu was interrupted 40 times with standing ovations in his 40 minute historic speech to the US Congress on Tuesday. Transcript here.

The transcript of PM Netanyahu’s speech is available here. The speech begins at 6pm Israel Time / 11AM NY Time.

Former US Secy of State Hillary Clinton is found to have exclusively used private email while at State Dept.

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

“Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate…” to wipe out Israel, PM Netanyahu told Congress.

The Prime Minister showed AIPAC a map of Iranian-backed Hezbollah attacks in five different continents.

More Articles from Jacob Kamaras

Most agree that replacing Foxman, who will retire in July 2015, is no small task for one of the highest-profile American Jewish organizations.

Sheldon Adelson

While advancing its own goals, IAC is placing a priority on partnering with the American Jewish organizations that preceded its existence.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

News of Ostreicher’s escape from Bolivia broke Dec. 16, and little was known about the circumstances of his return to America until actor Sean Penn told the Associated Press on Dec. 18 that he was with Ostreicher following a “humanitarian operation” to free the Jewish businessman “from the corrupt prosecution and imprisonment he was suffering in Bolivia.”

Former president George W. Bush made a surprise appearance at the 50th anniversary tribute gala of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week in New York, saying Iran cannot be trusted when it claims its nuclear program has peaceful intentions.

The “red line” associated with Iran’s nuclear program or Syria’s use of chemical weapons has sparked an ongoing international debate, in which both Israeli and Diaspora Jews have made their voices heard. But a debate that hits closer to home for American Jews is about where Jewish federations in their communities draw the line on funding programs associated with varying opinions about Israel.

During the discussions that led to the hiring of former Ohio congressman Eric Fingerhut as the next president and CEO of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, an item Fingerhut says was non-negotiable for both parties was Hillel’s usage of its staff, resources, and reach to fulfill its stated commitment to the support of Israel.

June 28 will mark the start of the 23rd annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, whose closing event is a concert that routinely draws 20,000-25,000 people and exemplifies the re-emerging broad appeal of Jewish culture in a country that was home to three million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/where-do-americas-jewish-federations-draw-the-red-line-on-opinions-about-israel/2013/09/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: