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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Federations of North America’

Guess What Each of the US Jewish Organizations Are Saying About the Iran Deal

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

We know the Iran deal is bad. How bad it is is we all may be spending the rest of our lives finding out. That is, unless enough members of Congress are able to inject sufficient spine-strengthening and -straightening serum to override President Barack Obama’s already promised veto of any effort to derail the deal.

So let’s take a stroll through the playground of American Jewish organizations and see what they have to say about the proposed deal which allows many of the things American leaders swore would not be permitted and forbids many of the things that were promised would be included.

First, let’s lay out the general parameters of the deal, as they are currently understood, based on analyses of the 159 page document.

According to the Iranians themselves, the deal blesses Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear programs and will lift sanctions from Iran through a new UN Security Council resolution. It allows all of Iran’s nuclear installations and sites to continue, none of them will be dismantled. Plus, research and development on key and advanced centrifuges will continue.

There will be no “anywhere, anytime” inspections. Instead, there will be a mechanism in place that will ensure that at least 24 days elapses before inspectors can visit any facility which Iran decides it doesn’t want visited.

And although the U.S. administration and its representatives repeatedly insisted that the nuclear program deal would have no impact on any other sanctions imposed against Iran, guess what? It does.

The P5+1 have agreed to lift the arms embargo against Iran within five years, and the embargo on missile sales will be lifted within eight years. Of course, the unfreezing of between $100 and 150 billion is perhaps the most frightening immediate effect of the deal. As with the nuclear and military sites, there will be no transparency to ensure that the money does not get funneled into Iran’s other favorite activity: financing global terrorism, especially murderous terrorism directed at Israel.

Most of the major Jewish organizations either blasted the agreement with Iran or punted, assuming a wait and see stance. However, one “pro-Israel, pro-peace” outfit was thrilled with the deal. More on that in the body of the article.

Here they are, summaries of the statements on the Iran deal issued by American Jewish organizations.In alphabetical order.

The Anti-Defamation League unhappy

Usually known for a more even-keeled approach to most administration ventures, the ADL is highly critical of the Iran deal. The ADL leadership said they were “deeply disappointed by the terms of the final deal with Iran” which “seems to fall far short of the President’s objective of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state.” The ADL leadership praised the administration’s negotiators for sticking to it for so long and for appearing to put off Iran’s ability to become a nuclear state in the short term, but it fails to prevent it for the long term.

The ADL further blasted the “front-end loaded infusion of billions of dollars in sanctions relief [which] will finance Iran’s ongoing global campaign of terror against Israel and other U.S. allies, and be used to further exert its influence across the Middle East, thereby harming U.S. interests.”

While stopping short of calling on Congress to do its best to derail the job, the ADL leadership took the time to urge those debating the matter to do so in a civil and respectful manner.  Some jaded commentators might wonder whether such admonishments are ladled out when the plan of someone considered to be right wing is under attack.

Americans for a Safe Israel angry

Not surprisingly, the small, New York-based, staunchly Zionist organization AFSI is unalterably opposed to the Iran deal. As Helen Freedman, AFSI’s long-time executive director wrote regarding the deal crafted by Obama and Kerry, “there was never any doubt in our minds that this deceitful duo would cross all the red lines and give Iran everything it demands-  and more. Our ‘leaders’ even made it difficult for Congress to do anything to Stop Iran by insisting this is not a treaty, only a ‘deal.’ Only those who applaud the naked emperor will celebrate this travesty.”

American Israel Public Affairs Committee worried

AIPAC’s deep affinity for diplomacy and close connections with the administration as well as members of Congress puts the organization in a bit of a bind. Its statement reflects that dilemma. AIPAC had previously outlined several requirements any deal with Iran had to meet. Those included:”anywhere, anytime” inspections – that ain’t happening; sanctions relief should only come after Iran satisfies all its commitments – nope; any deal had to prevent Iran from the ability to acquire nuclear weapons for decades – not that either; and Iran had to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure – nope again.

“We are deeply concerned based on initial reports that this proposed agreement may not meet these requirements, and thereby would fail to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.” Deeply concerned? Even the President’s talking points make clear that AIPAC’s red lines have not been met.

AIPAC, as did several of the other organizations, signaled that it would continue to review the deal and issue updates on its position.

American Jewish Committee worried

The AJC spent the first third of its statement praising the administration’s negotiators and leadership for its attempt to reach an accord. AJC’s executive director David Harris then called on Congress to ” thoroughly review, debate, and, ultimately, vote it up or down.” Towards the end of the statement, Harris finally gets around to venturing an opinion about the deal. He said that the nuclear deal does not appear to address certain “extremely troubling aspects of Iranian behavior.” He then lists out five different concerns of the AJC regarding the deal, including its reign of terror in the Middle East and its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program (which cannot have a peaceful purpose), and its systematic repression of human rights.

But rather than urging its members to take any particular action, the AJC director concludes his statement by noting that however “Congress decides to vote on the nuclear deal,” Harris concluded, “the need for vigilance regarding Iran will not for a single moment be diminished.”

Endowment for Middle East Truth angry

EMET expressed “profound disappointment” that the deal with Iran is “more deplorable than we had even anticipated. Of particular concern to EMET is that the “Administration has caved on almost every one of its initial criteria. It also pointed out that the Iranian Ayatollah maintained all of his red lines, even those which are contrary to UN resolutions.”

Sarah Stern, the president and founder of EMET said, “we all understand and appreciate that Americans are not eager for armed conflict, but willfully blinding ourselves to the reality of a bad deal does not prevent war.” EMET blasted the deal as a “diplomatic disaster of historic proportions.”

The Israel Project unhappy

TIP’s president, Josh Block, said of the deal with Iran that it “is a realization of the deepest fears and the most dire predictions of skeptics who have, for two years, been warning against exactly this outcome – a bad deal that enriches this tyrannical regime and fails to strip Iran of nuclear weapons capability.” TIP unequivocally called on Congress to reject “this bad deal.” The Israel Project has been providing nearly daily, and extremely detailed, updates and analyses of the negotiations for many months, and is considered extremely knowledgeable regarding both the process and the details of the agreement as it has evolved.

J Street  happy

J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami once described his nascent organization as “President Obama’s blocking back.” It apparently still sees itself that way. While hedging its bets a tiny bit by calling the deal “complex and multi-faceted,” J Street takes President Obama at his word and concludes that the deal “appears to meet the critical criteria around which a consensus of non-proliferation experts has formed for a deal that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.” Tellingly, the statement does not mention what those criteria are.

Every other organization that praised the negotiators did so for their efforts. Not J Street. J Street congratulated them for bringing the negotiations “to a successful conclusion.”

J Street mentioned the upcoming review of the deal by Congress, but sent its own thinly-veiled threat: Congress should be “mindful of the likely consequences of its rejection: a collapse of diplomacy and international sanctions as Iran pushes forward with a nuclear program unimpeded.”

In other words, unless Congress approves the deal, or fails to override the promised veto, J Street is telling its followers that the alternative will be an Iran with nuclear weapons. You can bet that is how they will couch their calls to supporters in the upcoming congressional review period.

Jewish Federations of North America hmmmm

The parent organization of the Jewish Federations and JCRCs was careful to thank the negotiators for their efforts and to express its support for diplomacy, but clearly signaled its discomfort with the way the deal has shaped up, given Iran’s terrorist history. The JFNA statement expresses its concern: “Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas, its human rights violations and its aggressive threats toward neighboring countries – including Israel – make the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran untenable.”

But the JFNA resorted to mouthing the assurances that President Obama has been making – even while the facts regarding them have been changing – for nearly the entire period of the negotiations. The JFNA concluded its statement by urging Congress to give the accord its “utmost scrutiny.”

National Jewish Democratic Council can't talk

Perhaps not surprisingly, the NJDC takes absolutely no position on the content of the deal and does not state one word about it. Instead, the statement issued by the NJDC focuses on the process of deliberations going forward and the need “to take partisan politics completely out of this situation.” In fact, it preemptively takes those who oppose this deal to task for turning the Iran deal into a “wedge issue” which divides Jews. It appears the NJDC did not take the temperature of its erstwhile center and center-left Jewish organizational playmates, as virtually every one of them, and they all contain large numbers of Democrats, are highly critical of the deal.

Republican Jewish Coalition angry

The RJC called the agreement “a bad deal” because “it is not enforceable, verifiable or in America’s national security interest.” The group called on Congress to stop the deal or “the world will be less safe as the United States will remove sanctions on Iran, and in return, Iran will still pursue nuclear weapons.” The RJC called on all members of Congress to reject the deal.

Simon Wiesenthal Center worried

The Wiesenthal Center’s leadership said they are “deeply worried” about the deal which they said “confirms Iran as a threshold nuclear power” and that “will end economic sanctions against the Mullahocracy.” The SWC called on Congress to review the document carefully and to vote against it if it is as dangerous as it appears to be.

World Jewish Congress hmmmm

The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, expressed strong skepticism about the Iran deal. He also mentioned the hard work of the negotiators but repeatedly stated that Tehran has a long history of misleading the world and that there is no reason to trust Iran over the implementation of the deal.

“I fear we may have entered into an agreement that revives the Iranian economy but which fails to stop this regime from developing nuclear weapons in the long terms, which would have disastrous consequences for the entire region and the world.” The WJC urged the international community to stand ready to reimplement sanctions immediately if Iran fails to meet its obligations under the agreement.

Zionist Organization of America angry

No surprises from the ZOA leadership on this issue. If they didn’t use a thesaurus to find every word that means bad to describe this deal, it is only because they have been using those words to describe this deal that way since its infancy.

The ZOA is “deeply horrified, but not surprised by the truly terrible nuclear agreement,” the statement begins. In a highly detailed recitation of how and why the deal is so bad, long-time ZOA president Mork Klein said that the nuclear agreement “is quite simply a catastrophe and a nightmare. It leaves the world standing at an abyss.”

In addition to decrying the lack of spontaneous inspections, the huge boatloads of cash to spend on its terrorist activities and subordinates and the egregiously antagonistic behavior of the Iranian leadership even over the past few days, Klein made another point.

“Two years ago, the Iranian economy was collapsing under the weight of sanctions. President Obama could have intensified pressure and international resolve to compel Iran to relinquish its nuclear program. He never even tried. Instead, he preemptively relieved the pressure on Iran by easing sanctions which enabled Iran to withstand every demand. As a result, we now stand on the precipice of an era of nuclear terror.”

The ZOA, as did several other organizations, urged Americans to call their elected federal representatives through the Capitol Hill Switchboard (202-224-3121) and urge them to oppose the nuclear deal.


While there are two outliers, it turns out the Iran deal is so bad that nearly every major American Jewish organization is, at minimum, extremely concerned about it. That’s quite a feat.

Grass Roots Rally Against NYC Jewish Bigwigs for Providing Cover to Anti-Israel Groups

Monday, May 11th, 2015

On Monday, May 11, several NYC-based pro-Israel grass roots organizations will hold a rally outside of the UFA Federation building. The groups are protesting the continued tacit (and even overt) approval of certain Jewish organizations that cloak themselves with a pro-Israel patina but are, in fact, supporters of economic and legal warfare against the Jewish State.

The UJA Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council are the focus of the rally. Groups such as JCC Watch, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Americans for a Safe Israel, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, ZOA and others are behind the event at which they intend to blow 101 shofars (ram’s horns), hoping the New York City Jewish establishment will “Hear O Israel,” and come to their senses.

The problem, as these grass roots organizations have pointed out so many times, is that the major institutional Jewish organizations continue to allow groups who promote harm against the Jewish state to march in the annual Celebrate Israel Day parade.

The primary target of this coalition has been groups, such as the New Israel Fund, which financially support organizations which advocate economic warfare against Israel, such as boycotts against such iconic Israeli companies as SodaStream and Ahava.

The parade this year will take place on Sunday, May 31. And this year, just like last year and ones before, organizations like the New Israel Fund and others will be participating, right alongside all the freshly-scrubbed Jewish day school students.

If you were to ask those students whether they think it is right for anyone to boycott Israeli goods or products, they would undoubtedly answer “no.” And if you were to ask those students whether people who support such activity are pro-Israel, they would also answer “no.” Finally, if one were to ask those students whether anyone who tries to harm Israel either through economic or legal measures, should march in the Celebrate Israel parade, they would, undoubtedly, answer “no.”

But the executives at the New York UJA-Federation and the NYC Jewish Community Relations Council don’t appear to understand what is so plainly obvious to most Jewish day school students.

Richard Allen, the engine behind JCC Watch and one of the main supporters of Monday’s rally, explained to the JewishPress.com one of the saddest ironies behind the BDS infiltration into what should be an event by pro-Israel supporters, for Israel.

“We call on the UJA-Federation to stop their promotion and support for groups that call for a boycott of Israeli companies Iike SodaStream and Ahava Cosmetics. The President of the UJA-Federation, Alisa Doctoroff is a major funder of the New Israel Fund, a group that finances the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel on a worldwide basis,” Allen said.

“The UJA-Federation protects and promotes the BDS groups in the Israel Day Parade and we insist this be stopped immediately.”

Sadly, this year there is perhaps even more stunning news than that ostensibly Jewish “leaders” are protecting and promoting those who engage in economic and legal warfare against the Jewish State.

As Allen shared with the JewishPress.com, “the Israel Consul General in New York is being used by the BDS forces in the UJA-Federation to protect the New Israel Fund.  The head of the UJA-Federation, Eric Goldstein, is now hiding behind the Consul General. He said in a radio interview that the Israeli Government supports BDS in the Israel Day Parade. We are here today to demand that Jewish Charitable dollars and institutions not be used by the BDS forces to push their agenda.”

The rally is taking place today, May 11, from 5 – 7:30 p.m., outside the UJA Federation building, 130 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. If you cannot bring your own shofar, they will have extras to hand out.

Jewish Groups’ Security Adviser to Lead US Foreign Fighter Task Force

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Paul Goldenberg, a senior security official for national Jewish umbrella groups has been named to help lead a U.S. Department of Homeland Security task force on foreign fighters.

Jeh Jonson, the Homeland Security secretary, named Goldenberg, who heads the Secure Community Network, to co-chair the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Foreign Fighter Task Force.

The task force was announced Tuesday in the Federal Register and SCN, an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, announced Goldenberg’s leadership role on Thursday.

“Foreign fighters, as seen so prevalently fighting alongside the Islamic State, present an unparalleled security challenge for the U.S and one that intelligence, counterterrorism officials, law enforcement and communities may be dealing with for years to come,” Goldenberg said in the SCN release.

The task force will address strategies to keep Americans from joining foreign militant groups, assess border, immigration and transportation security policies, and recommend strategies to keep fighters returned from abroad from carrying out violence in their communities.

Goldenberg, who also serves on the DHS’ Faith-Based Advisory and Communications Committee, has a background in law enforcement, at one time heading the bias crimes office for the New Jersey attorney general.


An Attack On Torah And Tradition

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

In a distressing development, representatives of the North American Jewish Federation system, the American Jewish Committee, and some Israel-based anti-Torah entities are collaborating in an effort to “dethrone” the longstanding and important institution of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

The idea is misguided and dangerous, and if its supporters are successful they will have created an irreparable divide within the heart of world Jewry, negatively impacting both Israel and the Jewish diaspora.

The effort is being spearheaded by the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Contemporary Jewish Life, which convened a meeting in January to discuss “working in partnership toward the ending of rabbinic monopoly,” according to the AJC’s Steve Bayme.

Joining with the AJC in the effort to undermine the Chief Rabbinate are institutions and organizations such as the Reform Hebrew Union College, the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, the National Council of Jewish Women and the self-described open-Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

A leading player in opposing the Chief Rabbinate is the UJA Federation of New York, which apparently has little or no regard for the hundreds of thousands of observant Jews in the metropolitan New York area whom it purports to serve and represent.

In Israel, heading the opposition to the Chief Rabbinate is the pluralism advocacy group Hiddush. Financial support for Hiddush comes from the New Israel Fund, known for its support of left-wing causes and groups.

Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told the Israeli daily Haaretz last month that the critical question is, “Is Israel the Jewish state for all the Jewish people?”

In the same Haaretz article, Susie Gellman, a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, said that weakening the hold of the Chief Rabbinate on Israeli life is not an internal issue for Israel alone. Her husband, Michael Gelman, co-chair of the 2013 JFNA General Assembly elaborated: “Israel is the nation state for all Jews wherever they are found.”

“Israelis won’t be under the tyranny of the [Chief] Rabbinate,” he added.

The individuals who attended the aforementioned January meeting “all agreed that the goal was to dethrone the Chief Rabbinate, but the question was how to get there,” according to minutes of the meeting obtained by Haaretz.

Those leading the attack on the Chief Rabbinate are counting on the Torah community and its leadership to be too involved in partisan differences to respond with a strong and united voice to safeguard and protect the unity of the Jewish people.

If we remain silent in the face of this brazen attempt to undermine the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, any and all recognized standards with regard to personal status and religious identity will be hopelessly diluted, resulting in an unprecedented fracturing of Jewish unity.

We of the Rabbinical Alliance of America applaud Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, who when questioned about the AJC initiative stated unequivocally that “The RCA is very happy to be excluded from the initiative because we don’t agree with it. Jewish law has certain minimal standards in order to be married and somebody has to oversee that. An institution like the Chief Rabbinate’s office is probably good to do that.”

Rabbi Dratch also noted that “Many improvements can be made to the Chief Rabbinate to be more user-friendly in order to increase respect for religious practice. Our feeling is that it requires improvement of the Chief Rabbinate, but not an overhaul.”

We call upon the leaders of the Jewish Federation of North America and the American Jewish Committee, and all of Jewish leadership, to refocus their efforts and resources on Jewish education, observance of the Torah’s commandments, and solidifying the ties of the Jewish people with Israel by supporting the sacred foundations of our people based on Torah and tradition that are at the very core of our identity and peoplehood as Jews.

Congress Budgets $13 Million for Nonprofits Security

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Congress budgeted $13 million for a nonprofit security assistance program that mostly aids Jewish institutions.

The money was allocated in the $1.1 trillion budget passed this week by both houses of Congress.

The program, which has existed since the mid-2000s, has so far disbursed $138 million through the Department of Homeland Security, not counting the $13 million in new funding. Of that amount, $110 million has gone to Jewish institutions seeking funding for add-ons like barriers and security cameras.

The Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America have led advocacy efforts for the funding.

“Since September 11, nonprofits generally, and Jewish communal institutions specifically, have been the victim of an alarming number of threats and attacks,” William Daroff, the JFNA’s Washington director, said in a statement. “Until nonprofit institutions are secure from such threats, The Jewish Federations will continue to strongly support the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.”

In a separate statement, the Orthodox Union praised lawmakers who champion the funding, chief among them Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

The Reform movement generally abjures the funding because of concerns about church-state separation.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed this week breaks a years-long budget impasse between the Republican-majority U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic-majority Senate. It also includes $3.1 billion in assistance for Israel.

White House Talks Iran Deal with Jewish Groups

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

The White House held at least two phone calls with Jewish leaders to explain aspects of the interim sanctions-for-nuclear-rollbacks deal between Iran and major powers.

Among the speakers on the conference calls Monday with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations for North America were Tony Blinken, a deputy national security adviser, and David Cohen, the top Treasury official in charge of implementing sanctions.

The off-the-record calls were a signal of the importance that the administration attaches to keeping pro-Israel groups on board for the six-month interim deal achieved over the weekend in Geneva, however skeptical the groups may be of the deal.

Generally, according to participants, questioners pressed the U.S. officials on the degree to which the deal impacts sanctions and whether the concessions to Iran could be reversed should Iran renege.

The officials said the deal’s sanctions relief affected only the “margins” of the Iranian economy, and that the main sanctions, targeting Iran’s energy and financial sectors, would remain in place.

The White House officials acknowledged differences with Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the deal as “very bad,” but said the endgame was the same: incapacitating Iran’s nuclear capacity, according to call participants.

Another White House call was held Tuesday for leaders of faith groups; Jewish leaders joined the call.

Separately, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a memo on Monday expressed concerns about the interim deal. AIPAC noted that the agreement allows Iran to keep enriching uranium, albeit at low levels, even though U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for a suspension of enrichment pending a final deal, and that it appears to preemptively allow Iran an enrichment capacity as part of a final status deal.

Also problematic, AIPAC said in the memo, is that the deal “includes an option to extend the negotiating window beyond an initial six-month period,” which “creates the possibility that the initial agreement will become a de-facto final agreement.”

The memo called on Congress to pass legislation that would impose penalties should Iran renege on the deal.

Survey: Jewish Community Endowments Up 7.6 Percent

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Jewish community foundation-managed endowments increased 7.6 percent in 2012 over the previous year, a new survey found.

The Jewish Federations of North America annual survey of endowment development released last week showed federation endowments distributed $1.4 billion in 2012 to Jewish and secular organizations locally, nationally and internationally. Endowment assets grew in 2012 to $14.3 billion, and contributions to endowment programs rose to $1.8 billion.

Overall, endowment contributions plus contributions to the federations’ annual campaign combined for $2.7 billion overall.

Endowment grants have been used to support programs that advocate for social justice, deliver food and medicine to the needy, fund Jewish education, and provide disaster relief.

Endowment assets included unrestricted funds, restricted permanent funds, donor-advised funds, supporting foundations, legacy and other types of gifts contributed to federations and Jewish community foundations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/survey-jewish-community-endowments-up-7-6-percent/2013/10/09/

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