Haim Dov Beliak just e-mailed me about a bombshell piece of news.
For the first time in its history, the Jewish Agency has named a non-Jew to sit on its top leadership board. And not just any non-Jew, but a right-wing evangelical. The Jerusalem Post put it most dramatically:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews will become one of the central strategic partners – and funders – of the Jewish Agency following a deal announced this week that will see some $45 million donated by the organization to the Agency over three years.
The funds will go to the Jewish Agency’s core budget, which has been shrinking in recent years as donors overseas choose to give directly to projects, bypassing the Agency. As a result, many in-house Agency projects, such as Jewish identity programs in the former Soviet Union, face cutbacks each year.
The donation is part of a broader agreement that will see Fellowship founder and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein join the Jewish Agency Executive, the 26-member “cabinet” that makes its high-level decisions and implements policy.
Fellowship representatives will also be given seats on the agency’s Budget and Finance Committee and the Coordinating Committee between the agency and the Israeli government.
The groundbreaking move comes at the behest of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the leading fundraiser among the U.S. evangelical community. Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raises scores of millions each year for Israel. Though IFCJ says the funds do not support “construction of settlements” it clearly supports projects both within and outside the Green Line, as this Haaretz article makes clear, and makes no distinction between them. One thing is for sure: whether or not the group funds settlements its mission calls for 100% support of retention of the Occupied Territories via the work it does with an affiliate, Stand With Israel. This is from one of its publications (pdf):
The Lie: Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace.
The Truth: The Oslo Accord, signed by Israel and the Palestinians in 1993,
contains no language requiring Israel to dismantle or freeze any settlements…
When the Palestinians put down their guns, there will be peace.
When the Israelis put down their guns, there will be no Israel.
Haim Dov Beliak tells me he has been the leading private donor to the settlements though I’m trying to authenticate where his resources are spent and whether they have a political/ideological agenda. The new agreement gives him a seat on the Agency’s executive by dint of his fundraising prowess. At any rate, Christian Zionists in general provide massive amounts of financial support to settlements.
It’s laughable that IFCJ’s Christian representatives disclaim a political agenda:
…A Jewish institution official who spoke anonymously…wondered if American Christians’ voice would be heeded when deciding politically-sensitive issues. But a source familiar with the group’s workings said it had always limited itself to apolitical welfare work.
“The Fellowship interacts with donors in terms of values, where the money is going, reporting and accountability,” he said. “But that’s the end of the relationship. The donors…influence over decision-making is almost nil. In the disengagement [from Gaza in August 2005], or on the question of donating over the Green Line, you see that the organization had no political side. It gives according to National Insurance Institute categories of poverty, not political viewpoint,” the source said.
It’s important to understand why IFCJ specifically supports immigration, as this has a theological context for the Christians according to this Eckstein interview in The Guardian:
“They believe, and I believe, that they have a very important role in helping facilitate the in-gathering of the Jewish people as foretold and promised by Isaiah and the prophets and this is part of the messianic redemptive process,” he [Eckstein] says.
In other words, in order to fulfill their End Times prophecy these evangelicals are attempting to bring every Jew back to Israel. The more Jews make aliya, the closer they get to Armageddon and Jesus’ return (which I might add includes the notion that one-third of all Jews will be killed).
Not every IFCJ venture succeeds. Their project to persuade Iranian Jews to make aliya offered a $10,000 bounty for any Iranian who took them up on the offer. There were so few takers they’ll be discontinuing the program at year’s end. They could always have tried bombing a few Jewish synagogues and saying the Revolutionary Guards did it. That tactic has been tried with some success in past attempts to persuade Middle Eastern Jews to emigrate.
IFCJ’s 2006 IRS form 990 indicates that Eckstein earned nearly $600,000 in salary and benefits. Helping restore Jesus to his throne can be quite a profitable venture for some Jews.