Eric Goldstein, the CEO and executive vice president of UJA-Federation of New York is someone I am personally well acquainted with. As part of his previous communal leadership, he visited my office for a private meeting, and on numerous occasions we have discussed Jewish education, communal life and related issues. When he was President of a Manhattan orthodox day school, I proudly donated funds to that institution and assisted him in his endeavor to raise more funds. He’s a modern Orthodox New Yorker who cares deeply for the Jewish people.
Recently, there has been widespread high-profile outcry against the New Israel Fund (NIF), and more specifically, the donors who fund their boycotts of Israel and other harmful work. Among NIF’s high-profile donors are the President of UJA-Federation, Alisa Doctoroff, The Jewish Communal Fund, The Jim Joseph Foundation, and other well-known American Jewish organizations and leaders. Following public criticism, which has included op-eds in The New York Post, The New York Observer, The Hill, and many Jewish publications, Mr. Goldstein has sought to silence me via pressure applied to a number of mutual acquaintances, including activist Rabbi Avi Weiss, with whom he knows I am close.
This week, I met privately with Jerry Levin, past president of UJA-Federation who remains involved with UJA and is admittedly pained at any criticism of the organization. He identified as a right-wing Zionist, modern Orthodox and finds the New Israel Fund despicable.
Michael Miller, the long-time executive director of NY’s JCRC is someone who identifies himself as Orthodox. He has family in Israel and has worked many years for Jewish interests. We have worked closely on numerous issues and he has asked (and received) my assistance quietly, privately, repeatedly (and always at no fee) through the years.
Yet, even with men like this inside the Jewish establishment, the New Israel Fund is still funded by UJA’s President. Even with Goldstein, Levin & Miller holding prominent positions, boycotters of Israel partner with the Israel Day Parade, their funders run UJA and their viewpoints control much of the Jewish community.
The claim made privately is that if the New Israel Fund is shunned by the community the Reform will stop funding the Jewish establishment, and that left-wing extremists will ensure that support is withdrawn from communal concerns.
It is not easy for me to write these words of criticism of people who work so hard for our people. I know each of these men personally.
Meanwhile, those who protest the UJA are pressured via calls to Rabbis, urged to be disinvited to communal events, and more. A well-known New York Jewish activist who organized a protest this week outside of the UJA office informed me that his kids’ yeshiva was called and asked to inform him that the school didn’t approve of his activities.
In Israel, the ruling Likud Party calls NIF an “Anti-Zionist organization”, Israel’s Supreme Court notes that their boycotts are “economic terrorism”, and Israel’s incoming education minister (and past economic minister), Naftali Bennett recently said: “Yes, New Israel Fund, I will boycott whoever persecutes Israeli soldiers. I will not apologize for it. Members of the New Israel Fund, listen carefully: Whoever harms, slanders and persecutes Israeli soldiers are not my brothers. The NIF works methodically and consistently to attack our Israeli soldiers, accuse them of war crimes of torturing Palestinians and intentionally attacking women and children. They turn to the UN and to the committees that are most hostile to Israel and try their best to convince them that Israel is a war criminal. I repeat: They say that our soldiers- you, I, your friends and your families, your children and their friends – that we are all war criminals. The New Israel Fund invests large amounts of money through its organizations with one purpose- to harm IDF soldiers who are physically protecting us with their bodies.”
Across the Israeli political spectrum, NIF is considered unacceptable.
Birthright Israel has stopped any association with the organization, yet they still dominate the halls of power of so many American Jewish organizations. Those who speak out are the ones opposed – yet NIF should be shunned as is Neturei Karta.
All one needs to know about New Israel Fund is that their website now brags about the new report “Breaking the Silence” issued which slanders the Israeli Army with untruths. That report was funded by NIF donors & George Soros’ organization, Open Society Foundations.
Jewish leaders and organizations can choose between standing for Israel – or standing for boycotts and against the Israel Defense Forces.
As of May, 2015, major donors to the New Israel Fund continue to include The Jim Joseph Foundation, Alisa Doctoroff, Karen R. Adler, David Hochberg, Edith Everett, Joel Greenblatt, Max and Andre Leichtag, Geoffrey Biddle, Dr. Gabor T. Herman, The Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Joan & Irwin Jacobs, Joan and Robert Arnow, The Jewish Communal Fund, The Leichtag Foundation and others.
There is no nice way to say it. There is no method this can be done privately. This is not a personal attack on donors to NIF – the personal attacks are only against the soldiers of the IDF who suffer because of Breaking the Silence. The personal attacks are against the business owners and employees of businesses boycotted due to the work of NIF.
It is simple – those who fund the New Israel Fund harm the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel. The ruling party of Israel, the Supreme Court, leaders of every major political party, the Army and many others say it: Stop!