In response to the October 30th Haaretz report that millions of tax-deductible donations to the Jewish Federations of North America go to fund West Bank settlements, Americans for Peace Now sent a letter to JFNA leadership urging them to cease all funding for Israeli settlements. Read the full letter below.
*APN's letter to the JFNA was featured in a follow-up article in Haaretz on November 6. Read the article here.
November 3, 2017
Richard V. Sandler
Chair, Board of Trustees
President and Chief Executive Officer
Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Director of Washington Office
Dear Richard, Jerry and William,
With deep concern, we read the October 30th Haaretz report about the millions of annually distributed JFNA tax-deductible dollars that end up in West Bank settlements, across the Green Line.
Settlements threaten the potential for peace, endanger the security of Israel and IDF soldiers, siphon funds from Israel’s treasury, violate Jewish values, imperil Israel’s precious democracy, and harm Israel’s international reputation. At every level, they are a liability for Israel.
Quite rightly, the Jewish Federations of North America does not permit funding for construction beyond the Green Line. Unfortunately, however, JFNA amended its policy in 2002 to allow funds to settlers for “humanitarian relief and rehabilitation services,” and as research by Haaretz indicates, members of the Jewish Federations of North America have been playing fast and loose with this loophole.
Apparently, Federation dollars are funding settler causes that have nothing to do with humanitarian relief or rehabilitation services, whether it is evicting Palestinians from their homes in Silwan or Hebron or running schools built on privately-owned Palestinian land. Haaretz reports, for example, that the Jewish Federation of San Francisco has provided assistance to Central Fund of Israel. This organization finances a number of settlements, sends money to Honenu, a legal aid organization which helps Jewish terrorists convicted of anti-Palestinian violence or their families, and supports Haliba, an organization with the incendiary goal of reversing the status quo on the Temple Mount. The list goes on.
JFNA and local Federations deserve praise for channeling the impressive generosity of American Jews toward a plethora of worthy causes, including many progressive charities. It is vital that the Federations recognize that support for settlements is antithetical to the laudable purpose of promoting Jewish life and values.
We call upon you to do two things.
First, we urge member Federations to strictly enforce your policy of not contributing to building or maintenance in West Bank settlements, and we urge you to close the “humanitarian relief and rehabilitation services” loophole. Any funding for settlements, regardless of size or purpose, sends a disastrous message to Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans regarding the position of America’s Jewish community on Israeli-Palestinian peace and on Israel’s future character as a democracy and a Jewish state.
Second, we call upon you to increase transparency regarding the recipients of Federation funds in Israel and the Occupied Territories. JFNA funds spent through the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee, in particular, are notoriously opaque. Federation donors deserve to know the extent to which their contributions are supporting the settlement enterprise and should have full information necessary to be able to exert pressure for a change in practice.
Chair of the Board of Directors, Americans for Peace Now
President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now