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April 30, 2016 / 22 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘JCC Watch’

Grass Roots Jewish Groups Condemn NYC Jewish Leadership for Condoning BDS

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

For the second time in as many years, grass roots pro-Israel New Yorkers held a rally outside the NYC UJA Federation building and blasted their shofars to bring attention to what they are describing as a deficiency of leadership.

More than a hundred people showed up to hear speeches criticizing the NYC UJA-Federation, especially its president, Alison Doctoroff, for giving their hecksher to organizations that seek to financially harm Israel, and to join in the 100-strong Shofar blowing intended to focus attention on the problem.

The pro-Israel activists were protesting the decision made by the UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council leadership to allow groups which support boycotts of such iconic Israeli products as SodaStream and Ahava to once again march in the NYC Celebrate Israel Parade.

Beth Gilinsky, the president of the National Conference of Jewish Affairs, one of the organizational supporters, has been trying for many years to galvanize what passes for institutional Jewish leadership in the United States to take strong affirmative positions on behalf of Jews and the Jewish State. She sees the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) campaign as the latest anti-Semitic strategy, one for which too many Jews have fallen.

“Through heavily-funded tsunamis of lies, disinformation, and agitprop, BDS seeks to malign what is beautiful and positive and strong about Israel. BDS is evil and essentially anti-Semitic, passing off as expressions of ‘justice’ false accusations against Israel and Jews. Israel is not an ‘apartheid’ state, as the BDSers propound, but in so many ways is the one beacon of light and progress in a neighborhood teeming with brutality and oppression.

“Skyrocketing BDS has led to increased threats and violence against Jewish people, Jewish institutions, and property. Even our young Jews are not free of it, as BDS has provoked a widespread climate of aggression against Jewish students on American campuses. I urge every Jew, and every Jewish organization across the globe, to step forward as a united front at this time in history to challenge those — be they Palestinian Arab agitators or hard Leftist Israel-bashers — working overtime to ignite anti-Semitism and destroy Israel.”

Richard Allen, the force behind JCC Watch, served as the master of ceremonies for Monday’s rally. Allen explained why so much of the focus of the rally this year was on UJA-Federation president Alisa Doctoroff. Doctoroff is a major supporter of the New Israel Fund, which funds entities that advocate boycotts of Israeli products. The NIF was permitted once again to march in the Celebrate Israel parade, which the UJA Federation and the NYC JCRC oversee.

Allen made the point: “Some of these groups are marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade when their purpose is NOT to celebrate Israel, but to denigrate it.”

Participant at 101 Shofar rally in NYC to protest BDS advocates in Celebrate Israel Parade. May 11, 2015

Participant at 101 Shofar rally in NYC to protest BDS advocates in Celebrate Israel Parade. May 11, 2015

New Yorker Lauri Regan, representing the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), also spoke at Monday night’s rally. Regan spoke about the growing delegitimization of Israel across the globe, and in particular how it manifests on U.S. campuses.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

For NYC Israel Day Parade, BDS Banned Only in Words

Friday, February 13th, 2015

This year New York’s annual parade to celebrate Israel will, despite blatant efforts by New York Jewish “leadership” to fool those concerned, once again include groups supporting economic sanctions against Israel.

You see, the New York Jewish leadership apparently thinks boycotting some Jews in Israel is acceptable, so long as their companies are located beyond where the Palestinian Authority wants them.

For all pro-Israel Jews, Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people, but for most American Jews, New York City is the undisputed Diaspora capital of the Jewish people.

That’s at least one good reason why battle lines were drawn over who and what should be permitted to march in New York City’s Annual Israel Day Parade (it’s officially known as the Celebrate Israel Parade, but people who have marched in or watched it for years and years still automatically call it the Israel Day Parade).

There has been an extremely vocal group of pro-Israel advocates desperately trying to ensure that the people who march in the Israel Day Parade  are actually pro-Israel in deed, and not just in slogan. They haven’t set the bar high – just high enough to keep out those whose actions seek to harm Israel, or those who fund those who do – from participating,

That band of warriors has been led by Richard Allen, a New York City businessman and founder of JCC Watch.

The primary target of the “keep the Celebrate Israel Parade pro-Israel” coalition has been groups, such as the New Israel Fund, which financially supports organizations which advocate economic warfare against Israel, and Partners for a Progressive Israel, which itself proudly advocates boycotting such iconic Israeli companies as SodaStream and Ahava.

In January, when the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York released its 2015 registration packet for the parade, people like Richard Allen and others in the coalition to keep the Israel Day Parade pro-Israel initially rejoiced.

But only momentarily.

The 2015 Marching Group Rules contained in the packet states clearly that all groups participating must identify with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and the homeland of the Jewish People.

The third rule states clearly that BDS groups may not participate. It states:

“All Groups must oppose, not fund, nor advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by not recognizing it as a Jewish state.”

Just below that rule, the packet links to further information. Unfortunately, neither of the links work, and only one could be found on the web. That one did not provide any further enlightenment than did the ostensibly clear rule.

When The Jewish Press contacted the JCRC of NY, Michael Mittleman, director of  the “Celebrate Israel” department, refused to explain what was meant by barring groups from participating in the parade if they do “not fund, nor advocate for” BDS.

Mittleman would only say that the JCRC had a statement it had released, which he promised to forward, on the topic and it was the last word he or any of them would say about the topic.

The conversation went from cordial to less so, as the reporter attempted to get Mittleman to expand on any specifics. The reporter asked, point blank, whether groups which advocate boycotts of such companies as SodaStream and Ahava would be permitted to march in the parade.

Mittleman would not answer other than say the only information the JCRC would provide on the topic was in the statement which he would forward.

Uh oh.

The “Celebrate Israel” director acknowledged, when pressed, that a decision about whether a specific group would be permitted or wouldn’t be permitted to march would have to be made, but he simply would not state what criterion would be used, beyond what was already in the 2015 parade rules and what was in the statement he promised to forward.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

New Israel Fund Tries to Explain its Way Around BDS Ban

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

New Israel Fund (NIF) executive vice president Rabbi David Rosenn took disingenuousness to new heights during a talk held Wednesday evening, June 18, at the Jewish Center of Princeton, when he told the audience he refrained from using the term “occupied” territory to avoid “the hot button.”

In fact, Rosenn admitted that areas beyond the ‘green (1949 Armistice) line’—or Judea and Samaria, more accurate Biblical references he refused to use—are not considered Israel proper by him or NIF and therefore the NIF does not sponsor organizations which operate or are headquartered there. Yet NIF continues to be one of the largest funders of B’Tselem—the Israeli Information Center of the Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Either Rosenn missed B’Tselem’s actual name (it includes ‘in the Occupied Territories’) or he simply omitted the distinction between Jewish organizations in the territories – which they don’t fund – and non- or even anti-Jewish organizations, which they do fund.

B’Tselem is also the organization responsible for giving Arab Palestinians video cameras to record IDF responses (but only the IDF responses) to disrespectful and sometimes violent instigation. The number of recorded alleged IDF ‘violations’ dropped dramatically once the IDF armed soldiers with cameras to capture entire (rather than partial) incidents.

Despite a polite, restrained albeit particularly well informed line of questioning—this is Princeton, after all—Rosenn resorted to semantics, suggesting a distinction exists between organizations supporting the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel (BDS) movement—a clear violation of NIF’s stated policy—and organizations located in Israel calling for the boycott of “Settlement” products.

Really? After fielding several questions to clarify the NIF position, Rosenn, who had earlier claimed that the NIF needed to be “vigilant” in deciding which organizations to fund, attempted to dismiss concerns saying “if [NIF] focused on BDS, we wouldn’t be able to realize our mission.”

Perhaps it would surprise Rabbi Rosenn to know that NIF-grantee Adalah provides legal representation for several Arab organizations that promote BDS in Europe as well as in Israel. Perhaps not.

The NIF is also a “proud sponsor” of Breaking the Silence (BtS), an organization of former IDF soldiers apparently so damaged by the effects of war that they were unable to go through chain-of-command to report abuses and IDF policy violations, but found themselves more than capable of confiding in the UN commission that produced the fraudulent and now-debunked Goldstone Report.

Even HaAretz, Israel’s widely read left leaning daily, discredited the group in 2009 citing the BtS agenda as “purely political.”  How a political agenda, particularly one based on fictional events, “supports issues that are in the public good”—the primary definition of an NGO—is anyone’s guess.

There’s no doubt that some NIF grantees are doing respectable, perhaps even good work.  The problem is NIF is funded from outside of Israel and some of the sources are sketchy at best.  This concern precipitated new legislation in Israel that has forced the NIF to be more diligent in adhering to its own guidelines.  Even so, the relationship between NIF and the historically anti-Semitic Ford Foundation drew the attention of investigative reporter Edwin Black who follows NIF money in “Financing the Flames.”

How NIF funding decisions are made remained elusive, with Rosenn saying only that a professional grant department was responsible.

The biggest surprise of the night came when Rosenn asserted that all criticism of the NIF emanated from reports in NGO Monitor, a respected watchdog group that was instrumental in bringing the NIF funding to the Israeli public, and from JCC Watch founder Richard Allen. Allen’s gripe, according to Rosenn, with NYC Federation’s John Ruskay is what led to his attacks on the NIF.

Helene Fragman Abramson

Mass Shofar Blast Against Anti-Israel Enabling on April 29

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

If a small group of grass-roots Jewish organizations have their way, more than one hundred protestors will assemble in New York City on April 29, 2014, each carrying a shofar. On cue, at 5:30 in the afternoon, rain or shine, all will raise their curved rams’ horns, long and short, and wail to the heavens in visceral unison producing a piercing spectacle of protest. The cacophonous alarums will continue their outcry until the shofar blowers feel they have made their point.

What are they protesting? It is their communal leadership.

The dissident shofar blowers will assemble in front of the 59th Street headquarters of the UJA-Federation of New York. The Federation’s beneficiary, the Jewish Community Relations Council, is the chief organizer of the Celebrate Israel Parade scheduled for June 1. The upbeat procession of floats, runners, and marchers is normally a public show of Jewish unity in support of Israel. But this year, the parade has become a maelstrom of disunity over the participation of the controversial New Israel Fund and other groups which recent revelations now link to the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement and the campaign to delegitimize Israel internationally.

The outrage in some American, Jewish, and Israeli circles over the NIF’s inclusion in the highly visible parade, formerly known as the Israel Day Parade, may be more than just a passing horn blast. The discontent may be energizing a historic decision among American Jews. Just what constitutes the Jewish mainstream? Is American Jewry about to set limits on its open tent of inclusion, a precept the community wears as a badge of honor?

More than a few American Jews feel their community has been hijacked from within by such groups as the J Street lobby, the New Israel Fund, and other organizations that constitute a powerful, well-funded minority able to wage war against Israel seemingly in the name of the Jewish people. “These groups are anti-Jewish,” says Judith Freedman Kadish, special project director of Americans for a Safe Israel, “and they are funding groups that are anti-Semitic. They just veil their actions by saying they are trying to influence public policy and an occupation.” The accused organizations and their defenders in the Jewish media and within the Jewish activist community vigorously insist their activities are simply democratic dissent aimed at solving Israel’s problems.

The New Israel Fund, enabled by taxpayer subsidies of its 501(c)(3) status, has been a pivotal funder of the BDS movement that wages economic war against Israel. Until 2011, the NIF was a lead supporter of the Coalition of Women for Peace, which established a global BDS infrastructure. According to NIF financial records, in 2008 alone, the NIF bestowed $93,457 upon the Coalition of Women for Peace. Over a period of years, NIF financing of this organization reached a strong six-figure sum, which included both direct grants and those where the NIF acted as a go-between for other donors–a technique they called “donor advised funding.”

The NIF no longer provides money to the Coalition of Women for Peace. Now, the CWP is strong enough to gather its monies from other sources. But detractors say — the irreparable damage was done. Moreover, the BDS movement today is fortified by a conveyor belt of brutality and oppression accounts–some legitimate, some exaggerated, some invented — force fed to the world by agitation NGOs, including many financed by the New Israel Fund.

NIF’s financial records for 2012 indicate that it granted $109,615 to Breaking the Silence, $255,477 to B’Tselem, and $209,161 to Adalah. These three groups are among dozens of NIF grantees that critics accuse as operating on the front lines of anti-Israel information and distorting the facts about international law as it affects Israel. Numerous Knesset members and Israeli military men have gone on record to decry the NIF as a well-financed, foreign, multinational NGO, hell-bent on “destabilizing the Israel Defense Forces” and erasing the Jewish identity from the State of Israel.

Edwin Black

Pro-Israel New Yorkers Hold Symbolic UJA-Federation Check Burning

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

On Thursday evening, September 12, a group of between 50 and 75 staunchly pro-Israel New Yorkers attended the latest effort to publicly expose what they are calling Donor Fraud in the institutional Jewish community.

Their campaign is called, “Close Your Wallets,” and they are hoping to encourage Jews to withhold their donations to Jewish institutions until specific guidelines regarding the use of that money are adopted.

The loosely organized group whose leader is Richard Allen, head of JCC Watch, has been gathering outside Jewish institutions on a regular basis for several years.  They do this in an effort to draw attention to the use by large Jewish institutions of Jewish charitable donations to support anti-Israel activities and anti-Israel individuals.

This week’s vigil was held outside of the United Jewish Appeal – New York Federation building on East 59th Street in Manhattan.  The vigils will continue until the NYC UJA adopts effective guidelines along the lines of the pledge adopted several years ago by the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee in Florida.

In the past, rallies were held outside of the Manhattan Jewish Community Center and the 92nd Street Y.

According to Allen, the JCC was the first focus because it was showing movies and promoting organizations that work to delegitimize Israel.  Later, the 92nd Street Y was the site of several rallies.

The 92nd Street Y was chastised for supporting and promoting two of the anti-Israel world’s most visible  celebrities, Roger Waters, a musician formerly with the powerhouse rock band Pink Floyd, and Alice Walker, author of the phenomenally successful novel, “The Color Purple.”

But both institutions receive funding from the single largest recipient of Jewish donor funds, the UJA-NY Federation, all of which is solicited in the guise of being used either for Jewish causes or in furtherance of Jewish values.

Allen was joined outside of the UJA building by Helen Freedman, executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel, and dozens of others, in a symbolic burning of checks made out to the UJA.

When asked whether he thought the UJA will be amenable to adopting the guidelines, Allen told The Jewish Press he thinks it will take time and only a serious groundswell of support will be successful in getting the UJA to adopt effective guidelines regarding the use of Jewish donor dollars.

“Remember Johnny Friendly, from the Marlon Brando movie, ‘On the Waterfront?” Allen asked.  “Well, nothing moves on the Jewish Waterfront without John Ruskay’s approval.”

Allen knows that Ruskay, still the top NYC UJA professional, is opposed to setting guidelines.  Allen referenced an op-ed penned by Ruskay shortly after one of JCC Watch’s earliest rallies.

The article was published in the Jewish Week and bemoaned the efforts of some groups who seek to determine when criticism of Israel becomes beyond the pale.  Ruskay’s line is much broader than is the one painted by Allen and those who have activated the Close Your Wallets campaign.  Ruskay’s vision is that of the largest possible tent, where the greatest number of Jews get to say whatever they want about Israel so long as they count themselves as “supporters.”

Allen doesn’t see much point in welcoming those into a tent who are determined to spread what he and his colleagues see as false, malicious and existentially harmful propaganda about Israel.  His view is that Ruskay’s method may prove to be like the proverbial successful operation which, unfortunately, kills the patient.

The next step for the Close the Wallets campaign is the institution of a wave of individual representatives at New York City synagogues who will be like educational community organizers, informing congregants about the harm caused by those in the economic and political warfare program against Israel, known as the BDS (Boycotts of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) movement.

The second step for the educational community organizers is to explain how Jewish communal dollars are being misused by those whose fiduciary duty it is to spend the Jewish communal dollars in strict accordance with the representations made when the money was solicited.

“This campaign is not going to succeed overnight, but it will over time,” Allen said.  “We’re not going away.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Post-Scandal 92nd St Y, Time to Re-Set Jewish, Pro-Israel Values

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Throughout the spring The Jewish Press and other media have repeatedly covered various missteps by what had been an esteemed New York Jewish institution, the 92nd St Y.

But it was recently revealed that the man who was supposed to be running the show was instead running around with his assistant; that the assistant’s son-in-law was not only an ex-con but that he had been put in charge of procurement for the Y’s facilities; and that he has recently been accused of demanding kickbacks from Y vendors.

The Y’s board hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.  The probe found strong evidence of wrongdoing, according to the New York Daily News.

But perhaps the Y can now not only cleanse itself from the tawdriness of the current scandal, but recommit to pro-Israel as well as to Jewish values.  While the Board of the Y is engaged in the hiring process for a new executive director, it would be a welcome relief to many if it were also to commit itself to ensuring that Jewish communal dollars are not spent providing a platform to Israel’s most vociferous haters.

Because for some reason, even if only relatively recently, under the previous executive director’s (failure of) leadership, the Y has let down many former supporters. Its scheduling included some people who are not only not supportive of Israel, but who rank among Israel’s biggest celebrity enemies.

First there was the disastrous dalliance with Roger Waters, one of celebritydom’s most outspoken anti-Israel defamers.  The former Pink Floyd rocker’s many acts of hatred towards Israel were chronicled in several articles in The Jewish Press.  Those articles ran when Waters was scheduled to appear in April.  At the last minute, and in a shamelessly stealthy move, a last minute scheduling conflict on Waters’ part allowed the Y to slide out of its commitment.

And then, just a month later, Waters’ sidekick in the effort to bar the Israeli Philharmonic from performing at Carnegie Hall, Alice Walker, was invited into the Y to help promote her new book. Walker is such an overt fountain spewing Israel hatred that even the mainstream Anti-Defamation League has labeled her comparisons of Israelis with Nazis and justifying suicide bombers as shocking and anti-Semitic.

Throughout these episodes, all the efforts to contact the Y’s executive director, Sol Adler, were met with no response.

Now we know why.

The emergent pattern at the Y of  booking not only opponents of Israel, but also the absolute stonewalling by the executive director as well as the communications director, led to the creation of a recurring protest outside of the 92nd Street Y.

The protest is known as “Close Your Wallets,” and it calls upon members of the Jewish community to make their views known by, literally, “Closing their Wallets” to Jewish communal organizations which allow money raised from the Jewish community to be spent supporting haters of Israel. They call that “donor fraud.”

Every second Thursday of every month – the next one is scheduled for August 8 – pro-Israel members of the larger New York City Jewish community stand outside the 92nd Street Y and distribute literature and educate passersby about the donor fraud problem.

And while no one likes to kick a dog when it’s down, perhaps the revelation about such extreme wrong doing as has just been disclosed will set the stage for some widespread housecleaning at the Y.  Therein lies the silver lining to the dark cloud currently hanging over the Y.

“This is a great opportunity for the Y’s board of directors to take control and stop the promotion of speakers who favor the boycott of Israel,” Richard Allen who heads JCC Watch, the driving force in the efforts to prevent, and then to educate about the problem of donor fraud, told The Jewish Press.

“They need guidelines, so they know what should not be crossed,” Allen continued. “The former leadership was not open to having them, but now, when putting in place other guidelines, those responsible for the Y’s future should also make it clear that Jewish communal dollars must not be used to fund anti-Israel activities.”

Allen told The Jewish Press that the Close Your Wallets protests will continue on the second Thursday of every month, until the Jewish communal organizations set those guidelines.

The Y is currently being run by the deputy executive director Deputy Executive Director Henry Timms, until a new executive director is selected.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Donor Fraud: Jewish Donor Dollars Support anti-Israel Speakers UPDATED

Friday, July 12th, 2013

PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE

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.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/donor-fraud-jewish-donor-dollars-to-support-anti-israel-speakers/2013/07/12/

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