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Proposed Jewish Charity Blacklist in Boston: Not Pro-Israel Enough?

Proposed Jewish Charity Blacklist in Boston: Not Pro-Israel Enough?

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Published by: surasky on May 07, 2010
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Jewish Advocate, Boston
CJP tangles with blogger over Israel
Charity vetting questionedMarch 12, 2010By Cara Hogan Advocate Staff http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/news/2010-03-12/Top_News/CJP_tangles_with_blogger_over_Israel.htmlWhen conservative blogger Hillel Stavis combed through the tax returns of the CombinedJewish Philanthropies, he didn’t like what he saw.On his blog, JStreetJive.com, Stavis last week listed 10 organizations that receive moneythrough CJP’s Donor Advised Funds that he considered to be anti-Israel.“These groups have been committed to a one-state or no-state solution in Israel,” Stavistold the Advocate.Among others, he cited the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, which he accusedof supporting Israel Apartheid Week; Media Matters; the New Israel Fund; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Amnesty International; the Workmen’s Circle; and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, which is now part of J Street.“CJP reserves the right to accept or refuse those donations,” said Stavis, whose blog issubtitled “Tracking Israel’s Jewish Defamers.”Barry Shrage, the president of CJP, said Stavis had got it wrong.“The idea that CJP is not a strong supporter of Israel is just crazy,” Shrage said. “We didnot give money to the Unitarian Church in Cambridge – that church backs the boycott of Israel and all kinds of terrible things.”Shrage said the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is not the same entity as thelocal church. “Stavis is confused,” said Shrage. “The only grant made ever, for onlyabout $1,000, out of $50 million in funding, was to Darfur relief, which they [theUniversalist committee] were involved in. We don’t agree with every statement theymake, but they are not backing a boycott or in favor of Israel’s destruction.”CJP established Donor Advised Funds to make it more convenient for contributors togive to a variety of causes. They give a single gift and tell CJP how they wish it to beallocated. CJP verifies each organization’s tax exempt status, makes sure it’s fiscallysound and looks at the mission statement.
Stavis said that CJP should do a more thorough investigation. “A mission statement isessentially a PR statement. What you have to do is look at the group’s activity,” he said.“Theoretically, you could give a donation to the social welfare wing of Hamas becausetheoretically that helps people, but that wouldn’t be appropriate.”Shrage said CJP could not begin to get involved in a political discussion about the groupsthat Stavis targeted. “There are things Jews disagree about, but we don’t demonize themand throw them out of the community,” said Shrage. “But there are some programs thatare really so far outside of our mission that we have to be careful about passing funds tothem.”Lisa Gallatin, executive director of the Workmen’s Circle in Brookline, also took issuewith Stavis for calling her group anti-Israel.“We are part of an increasingly influential American Jewish voice that is pushing Israeltoward a negotiated two-state solution,” said Gallatin, whose organization describes itself as a “Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice.” “Yes, we are critical of some of the policies of the Israeli government, but it’s not anti-Israel to question.”She went on to question Stavis’ motivations: “Is he suggesting CJP should dictate whothose individual donors choose to support?”Daniel Sokatch, the CEO of the New Israel Fund, said in an email his organization had been working for 30 years to empower “Israelis on the ground to advocate for the idealsof an evolving, responsive democratic society.”Last year, more than $25 million flowed into Donor Advised Funds and CJP received anadministrative fee to cover the costs of investigation. “Donor advised funds go to 1,100organizations,” said Shrage. “[We] went through those organizations with a fine toothcomb [when the program started] and were able to find at most 10 that were in any waytroubling.”He said CJP has been using the same vetting system for 35 years without any questionshaving been raised. “Now I believe we’ll have to look more closely, but for some pass-through organizations that have a wide variety of recipients, you’ll have to be the FBI tofind out everything,” said Shrage. “If there are significant problems, then we’ll look alittle more deeply.”However Shrage said he was disappointed in the tone of Stavis’ writing, which was titled“Guess who’s dining at CJP’s trough?”“At a time of polarization when the Jewish people need to treat each other with kindness,it’s troubling,” said Shrage. “I respect the people who did the blog; I think they have the best interest of the Jewish people at heart. But we need to be cognizant that a littleforbearance and mutual respect goes a long way.”
Jewish Advocate, Boston
Enough with the ‘big tent’
By Charles Jacobs March 12, 2010
There were reports last week that the Combined JewishPhilanthropies is distributing funds to organizations most Boston Jews would define asanti-Israel. The money is not part of CJP’s community funds, but comes through aseparate program: Donor Advised Funds. DAF’s are an important part of CJP communityservices, used by donors to save taxes and administrative costs. Boston Jews write checksto the CJP, then recommend distributions to specific charities. The vast majority of theorganizations on CJP’s approved list serve the community. Many are important pro-Israelgroups. But, given last week’s revelations, CJP needs to revisit its DAF lists.It was Hillel Stavis, the veteran pro-Israel activist and businessman, who researched and posted this story on his blog,www.jstreetjive.com. Hillel cited 10 DAF organizations hethinks work against Israel’s interests:• The American Friends ServiceCommittee• Democracy Now!• The Unitarian UniversalistService Committee (UUSC)• The Tides Foundation• Media Matters• The New Israel Fund• Brit Tzedek v’Shalom

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