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What's happened to Jews supporting BDS?

In recent years, there has been controversy surrounding the participation of the New Israel Fund (NIF) in the Salute to Israel Day Parade. NIF supports the Anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and is a well-organized machine that raises nearly $30 Million annually which largely goes to organizations in Israel that harm the Jewish State. Rightfully, there has been outrage at allowing them to march.

Those of us who oppose the NIF must remember that we must also condemn all allies and donors of the organization. As political strategist Hank Sheinkopf wrote recently, “Those who stand with New Israel Fund are standing against Israel. To suggest otherwise is a lie. I urge anyone affiliated with the NIF to stop supporting this organization financially. The New Israel Fund must be ostracized by the Jewish community.”


Refuting the New Israel Fund must cross all religious and political differences we hold in our community. As we stand against Neturei Karta, we must stand against BDS and NIF.

The Jewish Communal Fund, (JCF) the largest Jewish donor advised fund in the country, manages $1.3 billion in charitable assets for 3,100 funds. An organization for the mega-rich, they facilitate and promote charitable giving to sectarian and nonsectarian organizations through donor-advised funds and provide support to Jewish organizations.

Amongst their very rich donor list – which can be found here – there are a plethora of very wealthy Jewish philanthropists from across the political and religious spectrum. So too, are the charities to which these donors give generously to across the political spectrum – from yeshivas to community centers, settlements to healthcare organizations. They do very important philanthropic work.

Yet, buried in the tax-returns of the JCF, one finds that they funneled millions of dollars to NIF in the last few years. That is not OK. By reviewing the website of NIF, one sees that “NIF will thus not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.”

How many JCF donors support the viewpoints of Alma Biblash, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) an organization whom the NIF authorized grants worth $332,625 to from 2011-2013, and has called Israel “racist,” and “murderous,” and described the country as a “temporary Jewish apartheid state.” Biblash promotes the Palestinian ‘right of return.’ NIF is regularly accused of “lobbying and funding activities that are all part of a campaign to destabilize the IDF” – how can the JCF send NIF money?

In their policies handbook, The Jewish Communal Fund notes they are “committed to supporting causes that promote the welfare and security of the Jewish community here and abroad. Consequently, as part of the grant review process, the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Communal Fund retains the right to deny any grant request where the purposes and activities of the recommended charitable organization are deemed to be adverse to the interests of the Jewish community.”

Surely, the JCF will agree that BDS does not promote the welfare and security of the Jewish community. There is a clear conflict of interest for the President of JCF, Karen R. Adler and UJA Federation President Alisa Doctoroff, a JCF board member who personally support NIF with major money. One cannot donate to NIF and be a decision maker in the mainstream Jewish community.

Those of us who stand against BDS must demand that all Jewish organizations who support New Israel Fund stop providing them funds. The New Israel Fund must be ostracized by the Jewish community. As Sheinkopf said, “We must not allow the annual Israel Day Parade to be maligned by traitors whose activities prove they stand against Israel.” Similarly, the Jewish Communal Fund, UJA and others must no longer provide funds to the New Israel Fund.

If you care for Israel, walk away from the New Israel Fund. There is no other choice.

(Author’s note: For full disclosure The Jewish Communal Fund provides funds to organizations of which the author is a board member.)


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Ronn Torossian is Founder and CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Firm in New York and one of the 20 largest independently owned agencies in the United States. Ronn is an active Jewish philanthropist through his charity organization, the Ronn Torossian Foundation.