Councilwoman Against Israeli Dependence on Evangelical Money

Jerusalem City Councilwoman Mina Fenton (NRP) has written a powerful letter against the increasing dependency by Local Government on the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews (IFCJ).

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 13:35

Fenton is a member of the National Religious Party and is the Chairperson of the Council for the Advancement of Women's Status in Jerusalem. Her letter blasts the influx and growing influence of Christian Evangelical money - and specifically the IFCJ, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein - in 100 local and municipal councils throughout Israel:

"As a member of the Jerusalem City Council, I received an invitation to the Second Local Government Convention, under the sponsorship of (or dependence on) the IFCJ, in Tel Aviv University, May 30-31. The convention, entitled, "From Dependence to Independence in Local Government," is a contradiction in terms. Holding such a convention under the sponsorship/dependence of Evangelical money certainly does not lead to independence...

The IFCJ is a private body with its own interests, which is penetrating into the institutions of power in the country, with hundreds of millions of dollars being transferred to the Welfare Ministry, local municipal welfare offices, associations, and more.

The IFCJ takes pride in its takeover of the welfare institutions in the country via the Welfare Ministry and municipal councils. It has succeeded in penetrating some 100 municipal councils; all the evidence and data are found in the IFCJ's announcements.

The Wednesday morning session of the convention is billed as, "Buckling Under the Burden - Welfare in a Changing Reality (under the sponsorship of the IFCJ)." What does this mean? Are the convention planners telling us that this "Friendship Fund" is the one that will take responsibility for providing solutions for the welfare budgetary problems in the country's difficult and changing reality? Will the Evangelists set a new public agenda for us? Will they determine how much the current welfare laws apply to the changing social reality in Israel?

This is a take-over, creating a dependency. We must remember: "He who'll pay, has the say." Dependence has a price!

Ruth Sinai, writing in Haaretz on Jan. 7, 2006, notes, "It is hard to find a single local council in this country that is not supported by loyal American Christians, via the IFCJ. In four years of the fund's activity in Israel, it has become the leading philanthropic organization in the country."

Sinai quotes Adi Eldar, Mayor of Carmiel and Chairman of the Local Government Center (who himself receives funding from the IFCJ for Carmiel and makes sure that others get as well - M.F.), who said, "The Fund supports the weaker members of society in place of the State [emphasis in the original]..."

Sinai further details the municipal council activities: "Staff from the Fund hold advisory meetings with the Welfare Ministry and local municipal employees regarding goals and criteria."

Well then, who is in charge of welfare in this country? Who determines policy? Who is in charge of whom? Who is responsible? Who is dependent? Who at all is independent?!? And especially when the local government strengthens and eternalizes a private entity and grants it power and legitimacy."

Sinai notes that some cities, such as [the hareidi cities] Beitar and Emanuel, find it difficult to accept the source of the donations and do not request assistance from the Fund...

What a disgrace it is for the Jewish sovereign state in the Land of Israel, that frees itself of its basic obligation to be concerned for the welfare of its citizens, and encourages the receipt of money that is fatal from two standpoints: It is Christian Evangelical money that endangers the Jewish existence, and it is directed towards creating dependence..."

Fenton also writes that the money comes from millions of Evangelicals who give the money because of their religious beliefs about the end of times - which do not include Jews as we know them today.

IFCJ head Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein denies this, citing a poll showing that only 28% of the donors do so because of their religious "End of Times" beliefs. However, his own PR movies tell a different story. The film "On Wings of Eagles" shows montages of Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands in Oslo in 1994 together with images of the Twin Towers crumbling down, with a narrator intoning, "The mosaic of events we see happening today is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle with the pieces beginning to form the exact picture foretold by the prophets."

Eckstein is then seen standing on a mountaintop, saying, "You can see the pieces of the puzzle that are coming together" - apparently referring to the pieces of the Christian-religious puzzle.

The acceptance of Evangelical money has been the subject of various Halakhic [Jewish legal] rulings, though an unambiguous stance has not yet been formulated. Some say it is forbidden to take any money, some say it is permitted, and others say it may be used only to fund non-educational causes. Among those in the forefront of the opposition to accepting such money are Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook of Rehovot and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of Beit El.