The winds of change are blowing across the landscape of American Jewish institutions, fanned by grassroots revolts against local Jewish Federation leaderships for their support of positions and programs that threaten Israel. This is not simply a right-wing versus left-wing divide, but rather a demand that local leaderships either change or find themselves with seriously reduced support, popular and financial.
On August 10th, the Jewish Telegraph Agency published an opinion piece by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) titled, at least on the ADL site, “Shout Down the Sharia Myth Makers.” Within a few weeks, the Foxman op-ed, which attacked those who who are wary of the inroads sharia law is making in the United States, had been, in lockstep fashion, printed in more than two dozen Jewish weeklies subsidized by Jewish Federation charity organizations, ranging from North Jersey’s Jewish Standard to Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent to Wisconsin’s Jewish Chronicle to Los Angeles’s Jewish Journal.
The ADL has been taken to task for this, including by this writer and by Jewish Culture Examiner himself. Similarly, the ADL has received considerable recent criticism for, among other reasons, its eager support of the construction of “mega-mosques” throughout the United States, including New York, Tennessee and California. The following are some examples of the grassroots revolt taking place:
In Orange County, California, local activists of Ha’Emet (The Truth), have mined state public records and, in the process, unearthed details of how the local Federation funded more than $60,000 in grants to U.C.-Irvine for student trips to meet with Hamas representatives on the West Bank.
In Indianapolis, a new group, the Jewish American Affairs Council of Indiana (JAACI), has opposed local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) interfaith dialogues with a leading Muslim Brotherhood front group, the Islamic Society of North America, headquartered in nearby Plainfield.
In Manhattan, JCCWatch.org has been very critical of the current UJA-Federation executive director, John Ruskay, for both his high-six-figure compensation and for his support of pro-Palestinian programs.
The Russian Jewish Foundation of Boston, which represents 70,000 (generally politically conservative) Russian-Jewish émigrés, has taken exception to JCRC’s invitation of the local J Street chapter to join. J Street, which Orwellianly operates under the mantra of “Pro-Peace and Pro-Israel”, supports the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Moreover, J Street had secured significant funding from controversial anti-Israel financier George Soros (born to a Hungarian-Jewish family as György Schwartz).
Then there is the Buffalo Federation, which engaged in planning “dialogue” efforts in Syria with a notorious anti-Semitic imam, via local community terrorism supporters. This was exposed by Dr. Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.
In March, 2011, the public learned of the slaughter of five members of the Fogel family in Israel by teenage jihadis. A group of activists dedicated a pledge in memory of the Fogel family, requesting that local Federations oppose sponsorship of speakers supporting boycotts of, sanctions on and divestment from Israel. To date, only the Federation in Sarasota-Manatee County, Florida has signed the Fogel Pledge.
More has to be done to reform local Jewish Federations and JCRCs, as well as the national group, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. Merely reducing or withholding donations is not enough. Alternative grassroots organizations like JAACI should be established in local communities to become the “go to” Jewish representatives for support of the State of Israel.
Additionally, American Jews can no longer afford to ignore Christian–Zionist organizations, such as Christians United for Israel, which represent tens of millions of believers in the sanctity of G-d’s covenant with his people.
Jerry Gordon (senior editor of New English Review), NY Jewish Culture Examiner (h/t Doc’s Talk)