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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘UJA-Federation’

Tuesday Rally: No Israel Boycotters in Celebrate Israel Parade

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A coalition of concerned pro-Israel New Yorkers will be gathering Tuesday evening outside of the UJA-Federation building at 130 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.

The organizers say they are having the rally because every other effort the group has made over the past several years has failed to convince the UJA-Federation and the JCRC that people affiliated with organizations which support the boycott of Jews in Israel – anywhere in Israel – should not be given an official hecksher of “pro-Israel” bona fides by being welcomed to march in the Israel Day Parade in New York.

The theme of the group coalesced over time and became “It starts with boycotts.” That’s because the people whom the group does not want to be granted acceptance support boycotting Jews as a legitimate tool the pressure Israel to accede to their – not the voters of Israel, but their wishes in resolving the Arab Israeli conflict.

“It starts with boycotts of Jewish products, and ends with violence against Jews,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky emailed The Jewish Press Monday evening. She is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

“At this time, perhaps more than any other time since the beginning of the Holocaust, when anti-Israel hatred, and anti-Semitic and jihadist violence, are surging across the globe, it is time for the Jewish community to demand that Jewish leaders show some backbone,” Gilinsky explained.

As two New Yorkers put it in a letter they sent to the head of the UJA-Federation, their objection to the inclusion of people who intentionally harm Israel in the Israel Day Parade is not a matter of restricting free speech.

“Please do not confuse our opposition to the inclusion of BDS groups in the parade with any attempt to stifle free speech. On the contrary, we have no objection to the right of people to state their positions,” wrote Benjamin S. Klapper, of Manhattan. “As Jews and supporters of the state of Israel we do not have to furnish the platform.”

All of the rally organizers repeatedly made clear that they support the good work that the UJA-Federation and the JCRC do, especially their services for indigent and elderly Jews. But they all felt very strongly that it is wrong to permit those who willingly harm fellow Jews, or give support to those who do, to march with those whose love for Israel means they will fight for it, not against it.

“We stand with Israel, against the anti-Israel, Arab-supported BDS movement which dehumanizes Jews, demonizes Israel and which, sadly, some dishonorable Jewish groups support,” said Beth Gilinsky, one of the main speakers at Tuesday’s rally. Gilinsky is a long-time Jewish and pro-Israel activist and is the founder and president of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs.

The BDS movement promotes economic and legal warfare against Israel by promoting the implementation of Boycotts of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel and Israeli leaders.

The sorest point between the rally organizers and the gatekeepers for the parade is in the definition of boycott. For the pro-Israel group, anyone prepared to support those who do, or who themselves use economic warfare against Jews are supporters of anti-Israel boycotts, whether the support is for a boycott of all of Israel or only of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

For those who make the eligibility determination, groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund and even the Partners for Progressive Israel, which consistently partner with or who fund groups that promote Israel boycotts or who promote boycotts themselves, their pro-Israel bona fides comes from their claim to “support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Richard Allen, is the founder of JCCWatch. Allen is the main catalyst for the rally and the sustained effort to ensure the Celebrate Israel Parade includes only actual lovers of Israel. He explained to The Jewish Press that the UJA-Federation has been telling concerned donors that no BDS supporters will be marching in the parade.

“But that’s simply not true and they know that. Partners for a Progressive Israel march in the parade. That is a pro-BDS group,” Allen said.

A quick skip over to the Partners for a Progressive Israel website reveals that oh yes indeed, the group most certainly promotes the boycott of all kinds of Israeli products, including SodaStream (what would Scarlett say?), Ahava and, all told, more than a dozen products including wines, salads and spices made by Jewish companies. Most of which, by the way, employ Arabs at salaries far higher than the salaries at Arab-owned companies.

Take a look:

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products

Partners for a Progressive Israel very proudly support the boycotting of more than a dozen Israeli products 

Joe Rapaport is a New Yorker who took the time to speak with John Ruskay, executive director of the UJA-Federation. Ruskay told Rapaport, that all the “groups marching in the parade have signed off that they are NOT in favor of BDS.” How to explain that position with the Partners for Progressive Israel’s proud affirmation of their boycott is difficult to understand.

But there is no need to attempt to reconcile those two contradictory positions, because the official  ”2014 CELEBRATE ISRAEL PARADE – June 1, 2014 RULES AND REGULATIONS” makes no reference toBDS. The only requirement imposed on parade marchers is not even that they “support” Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but that they “identify” with Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. No pledge is required, the statement just appears in the rule book.

Rapaport said that Ruskay also tried various hedges, like “the Federation does not decide who is in the parade, the JCRC does.” Ruskay conceded, however, according to Rapaport, that the Federation had the ability to influence the decision. Finally, Rapaport explained that Ruskay “jumped to the argument that to eliminate these [BDS supporting groups] would alienate big donors, specifically Bronfman.”

It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?

“I have received calls this week from members of the Jewish establishment accusing us of trying to stop the parade altogether,” Gilinsky said.

“Neither could be farther from the truth. We certainly want the Celebrate Israel event to succeed — just without promoters of the anti-Jewish, Hamas-backed BDS movement parading down Fifth Avenue!”

Groups participating in the rally include JCC Watch, Americans for a Safe Israel, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Coalition for Israel, Young Israel of Kew Gardens, Jewish Action Alliance, Never Again is Now and the Jewish Political Education. Foundation

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.”

JCC Watch: Stop Giving Jewish Money to Fund Anti-Israel Activities

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Pro-Israel New Yorkers continue to seek ways to prevent Jewish charitable dollars from supporting anti-Israel activities and speakers.

Because the UJA-Federation is the source of funding for so many Jewish organizations, an organized effort is about to get underway to ensure that this funding source – all of which comes from Jewish donors – is being used to fund programming that is infused with Jewish values and which is supportive of Israel.  This effort is in response to several years during which UJA-Federation-supported entities use some of those donors’ dollars to support efforts to cripple the Jewish state.

One of the most active efforts to stop this suicidal movement is led by Richard Allen who began JCC Watch several years ago when he was no longer able to abide the many anti-Israel events taking place at New York City’s Jewish Community Center.

Allen decided that one way to fight the battle was to inform as many people as possible about the problem.  He created a huge database of email addresses and periodically sends out emails with detailed information about anti-Israel events and suggestions for action. He is judicious about the frequency of his mailings and is careful to include accurate information.  And he just keeps adding to the roll of email addresses.

Allen and his colleagues found that the NYC JCC was partnering with groups that blatantly promote economic and political warfare against Israel known as the BDS movement (Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel).

In March 2011, JCC Watch held a protest outside the JCC and issued a call for the JCC to “establish public and transparent guidelines that make clear that the JCC will not partner with nor link to other organizations that support or fund the BDS movement.”

While the JCC has not stopped its anti-Israel programming completely, Allen and others have said that there has been an improvement in the kinds of activities and events it has hosted over the past two years.

Most recently, JCC Watch has been closely following the hosting by the 92nd Street Y of several virulently anti-Israel BDS advocates.

Two of the most ardent “celebrity” promoters of BDS were recently scheduled to appear at the Y.  Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame was supposed to appear at the 92nd Street Y in April, and only didn’t because he encountered scheduling problems.  And just a few weeks ago, the rabidly anti-Israel novelist Alice Walker spoke at the Y.  Both endorse BDS and both actively attempt to get other artists to boycott and otherwise harm the Jewish State.

The National Council of Young Israel issued a call to the Y’s leadership on Wednesday, June 12.

“While we admire your longstanding effort to promote Jewish culture,” the NCYI leadership wrote, “we are deeply concerned over your ill-considered programmatic decisions that run counter to the interests of your own constituency. Extending an invitation to noted anti-Israel personalities is counterproductive and runs afoul of your desire to affirm a commitment to the State of Israel and world Jewry. Individuals who denigrate the Jewish State should not be welcomed with open arms at any venue that is associated with a Jewish group or organization.”

NCYI went on to ask that the leadership of the 92nd Street Y give greater care “in the future to the selection of featured speakers at the 92nd Street Y and ask that you invite those who stand for and with Israel instead of those who call for boycotting Israel.”

JCC Watch was thrilled that other Jewish organizations are responding to the need to prevent Jewish donors’ dollars from being used to fund anti-Israel activity. It and several supporters tried repeatedly to reach administration personnel at the Y in order to discuss the matter, but their efforts were stymied by bureaucratic roadblocks.

Now JCC Watch is taking the issue to the UJA-Federation, because the 92nd St Y receives funding from UJA-Federation.

“Those are Jewish charitable dollars, given by Jewish residents of New York who want their dollars to go towards funding Jewish Values.  Trying to destroy the Jewish State is not a Jewish value and is not something donors had any reason to believe they would be funding,” said Allen.

On Wednesday, June 12, JCC Watch gave Jerry W. Levin, president of the UJA-Federation, a heads up regarding the next stage of activity for JCC Watch and its allies.

Levin was advised that unless assurances are given that anti-Israel programming such as Walker and Waters will not be supported with Jewish Communal charity money, there will be a monthly protest in front of
the 92St Y.

These monthly protests will include what is being called the “Close Your Wallets” campaign.  This campaign will ask people to stop supporting charities which support, through funding, these anti-Israel events.

The ongoing “Close Your Wallets” campaign will be called: The Sons & Daughters of Zion in Blue & White.  Blue & White Ribbons will be given to the public each protest day and protesters will be urged to wear Blue & White.  The educational component of this campaign will begin this week, and the protests are expected to begin in early July.

“Just like the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina,” Allen wrote, “we will build the pressure until they have to respond.”

Allen envisions the campaign to include emails, direct mailings, direct phone campaigns and synagogue organizing throughout the greater New York area.  He said the JCC Watch “Jewish Community Alert” will be used, and that goes directly to the inbox of every rabbi, synagogue and organizational leadership, student leadership, charitable and educational leadership throughout the organized Jewish world.”

JCC Watch urged UJA-Federation’s head Levin to review financial support to institutions that provide a venue to anti-Israel programming.  Levin was informed that Allen will “personally fund this effort to insure a complete national saturation within the Jewish Community of our activities.”

Americans for a Safe Israel’s executive director, Helen Freedman, wrote in an email to The Jewish Press, that “rather than try to plug every leak, it is important to get to the leadership of Jewish institutions like the 92nd Street Y and the JCC in NYC and discuss the issues with them. If the scheduling of BDS and anti-Israel speakers is inadvertent, then more careful attention must be paid. If it is deliberate, it is inexcusable and the Jewish community should withdraw its financial and participatory support.”

“The goal of the New York Lawyers Committee to Stop BDS is to make sure that Jewish organizations immediately implement programs that educate and inform our community about the dangers to world Jewry in general and Israel in particular of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel,” its chairman, Robert Sidi, told The Jewish Press. “The 92 Street Y must stop hosting supporters of BDS; our own Jewish leadership must stop denouncing, denigrating and delegitimizing Israel.”

“If the leadership of the Y and JCC refuse to meet with us in order to clarify and rectify the situation, AFSI will have no choice but to join with the organizations picketing against them,” AFSI’s Freedman wrote.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jcc-watch-stop-giving-jewish-money-to-fund-anti-israel-activity/2013/06/13/

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