Jewish Foundations Support Islamophobia at Home, Settler Triumphalism Abroad
Most Jewish foundations support the equivalent of Bubbeh’s chicken soup: Israel, synagogues, youth groups, Jewish education, Jewish studies programs, etc. But over the past ten years or so, as the ideological battle within Israel has intensified with a rightward nationalist drift, a number of foundations have led a drive toward the increasing politicization of Jewish philanthropy. Three of the most radical in their funding objectives are located in the west: the Koret Foundation in San Francisco, which is based on the fortune amassed by a successful Jewish clothing manufacturer, with a reported $473-million in assets and $19-million in grants in its latest IRS filing. The Fairbrook Foundation, based on the $1-billion technology fortune of Aubrey and Joyce Chernick, is based in Los Angeles and had $50-million in assets and $5-million in grants in its last available 2010 IRS filing. The Irving Moskowitz Foundation, which had assets of $48-million and grants $5-million, supports the radical settler vision of its namesake, whose fortune was made buying and selling hospitals and in running a Southern California bingo-parlor.
These foundations are major funders of the most extreme of Jewish groups and individuals including David Horowitz, Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, The Israel Project, MEMRI, and many others. The agenda of these funders is decidedly Islamophobic and contributes enormously to the current hostile atmosphere toward Muslims in the U.S. and Israel. They funded Geller’s “Ground Zero Mosque” jihad, her NY subway ads. They helped Daniel Pipes create and fund his lawfare campaign called The Legal Project, which provided free legal representation to leading Dutch Islamophobe politician, Geert Wilders; and for MEK official, Hassan Daioeslam, in defense of his libel suit with the National Iranian American Council.
The main problem with Jewish Islamophobia is that it turns the Israeli-Arab conflict into a religious holy war when it’s really a battle over political power. Injecting religion as these radical ideologues do, makes resolving differences almost impossible. Finally, in smearing the religion of most of those living in the Middle East, it almost guarantees that no Muslim will be able to tolerate a Jewish presence there as well.
Similarly, these radical philanthropists fund the most extreme of the settler movement. Those who not just espouse violence and hate against Palestinians, but engage in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
Because so much of the activism of the radical Jewish right is shrouded in obscurity, I like to debunk this periodically by showing you the money: who has it, where it’s going, and what it’s doing.
* The following is a list, by Foundation, of some of the most radical of these groups and how much they’ve received. I last blogged about the Fairbrook Foundation’s 2008 IRS 990. The following is from the 2010 report:
American Freedom Alliance
Ateret Cohanim (De-Arabizing East Jerusalem)
Kiryat Arba Yeshiva
Center for Security Policy (Frank Gaffney’s Sharia-obsessed non-profit)
Central Fund for Israel (general support for radical settlers and settlements)
CAMERA (right-wing media advocacy)
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes)
Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE-David Yerushalmi)
Zionist Organization of America
* While the Koret Foundation has a distinctively more regional focus in a lot of its Jewish grantmaking, it is nonetheless playing a major role funding right-wing pro-Israel groups whose political ambitions are national and international in scope. Here is a list of some of the far-right Jewish groups it funded in 2011. Grants may be paid between 2011-2013:
American Israel Education Foundation (AIPAC Israel junkets)
American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise (former Aipac staffer, Mitchell Bard)
Central Fund for Israel
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Friends of the IDF
Institute for Jewish and Community Research (funding Ken Marcus’ campus anti-Semitism initiative)
The Israel Project
Investigative Project on Terrorism
Jewish Agency (Natan Sharansky)
Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes)
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
StandWithUs (Bay Area chapter, one of whose members engaged in a physical assault at a Jewish Voice for Peace meeting)
Ayn Rand Institute
Center for Security Policy
* These are the grants listed in the Moskowitz Foundation’s 2011 IRS report:
Central Fund for Israel
Ir David (the settler archaeological excavations which are at the heart of the campaign to depopulate Palestinian East Jerusalem)
Friends of IDF
Honenu (legal defense for settlers accused of nationalist violence like Yigal Amir)
Zionist Organization of America
Western Wall Foundation
Friends of Itamar
Center for Security Policy
Americans for a Safe Israel
Nefesh B’Nefesh (supporting immigration, often to settlements)
51 thoughts on “Jewish Foundations Support Islamophobia at Home, Settler Triumphalism Abroad – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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The truth of the matter is that my family and I (all of us, living here in the California Republic lol, hold Israeli and American citizenship, my wife and I IDF veterans as well) have stopped giving money to any of the mainstream Jewish organizations, the suspicion being that no mattter what they tell you about hospitals, schools and whatnot all this money is being sent to some shtettlement in order to subsidize rivka and yankeleh’s free house. What should be done is simply to reclassify these organizations and remove their tax free status. As far as Moskowitz, Adelson et al is concerned, I’m sure if we dig deep enough (and if we show enough resolution) we’ll find the soiled, shit-stained underwear they’ve been hiding under the American flag that they’ve wrapped themselves in, and then we can throw their corrupted, traitourous asses in jail.
“,,,remove their tax free status.”? That’s a sad joke! The IRS knows all about these organizations and does very little to enforce the law. So, American taxpayers virtually subsidize organizations that are arming settlers on stolen land in a region that is considered “occupied.” The US forgoes its revenue, shifting more burden onto honest taxpayers. Letter 4426 is the standard response to any inquiry about these organizations. It says — wrongly I believe — that information about any and all returns is “confidential.” . I do not believe that confidentiality can extend to these tax favored organizations. Anyway, I could paper my office with these letters. I have considered creating a website named after the Director of EO Examinations (whose signature is on the letters), i.e. “Nanette M. Downing” or maybe just “Letter 4426.” The purpose of the site would be to exchange, that is, to publicly embarrass that office for its dereliction of duty.
Well, then I guess maybe its time to get them to enforce the law. Of course the first step would be to lean on your political representation. But before that, you’re going to have to become an insurgent in your community (somewhat like Richard). But before that you’re going to have to stop being afraid to open your mouth at the synagogue. Writing things on the Internet is not effective without an actual popular movement in the physical world to back up your enthusiasms. My wife and I have been ostracized from three synagogues in LA for having tried to do just that. We spoke with many people in these congregations who agreed llwith us, but when push came to shove they weren’t willing to go against the official line. As long as the secular Jewish community is made up of cowering little shits, this situation will continue, all your links and websites notwithstanding.
“…time to get them to enforce the law.” Sure. Personally, I have been as much in the face of the Jewish community as I can here.
I’ve made myself an irritant locally and did so deliberately, loud and obnoxious: I wanted to see how “organized” the response would be. Sure enough — my garbage was lifted, carried two blocks away and strewn about. Just mine. Not one of my many neighbors. Could be randomness, but the odds are way high against it. Local “Stand With Us” Director no longer offers her regular sanctimonious elaborate comment on every local paper article about Israel. We do what we can.
Okay. Beseder, Davey. I get the fact that you’re a stand-up guy. I wasn’t really speaking about you in particular. We can feel good about; “doing what we can” but we have to be honest with ourselves. Its not enough and its not effective against the forces that are arrayed against us. We have to be willing to literraly start a civil war in the community, and as a collective we’re not there yet. For instance, I’ve yet to see a leader in lets say, amongst the Reform Jews, (Rick Jacobs comes close but is still pulling his punches) call a spade a spade and come out against the excesses of the Orthodox Jewish community, their Kahanist leanings the rampant child molestation, misogyny and the rest of their excesses both here and in Israel. I’m beginning to think that the day I see that, hell will be an ice skating rink.
In response to his dismissal of JVP, I wrote to Atzmon suggesting that maybe American Jews have to be brought along a bit at a time. He replied: “So, you have to lie to Jews?” Exactly really what you, Shoded, are saying. Tell the truth as loudly as possible.
Telling the truth is great, saying it loud is even better but at the end of the day, its really all about who the messenger is and I’m afraid the JVP ain’t it. But look, its not a criticism. As a matter of fact I think trying to communicate through the hierarchies or trying to change the thinking of the mainstreamers with their ossified community grandee’s sitting in the drivers seat is an excercise in futilty. Most revolutions that are successful are successful beacuse they were able to excite the imaginations and then subsequently raise the political awareness of youth, the optimum demographic for social change (the 13-21 crowd would be the optimim demograhic, witness the Occupy movement). It would start small, a facebook page, organized demonstrations in various urban centers and rather than being about raising public awareness, the purpose of these demos (really guerilla street theatre) would be to provoke a right-wing Jewish response, thereby causing an organizational response (Wheres Pam Geller when you need her) and with any luck, a physical confrontation in order to; “heighten the contradictions”.
Well, it’s true — it doesn’t take much to provoke the other side, riven as it is with bad faith. “heighten the contradictions” — haven’t heard that sort of talk from anyone under 50 in a long time. I am assuming you’re not an old fart, like me, who daydreams of that revolt.
Well, the truth is I’ve got 1 more year before the AARP starts sending me stuff. In “Logan’s Run” I’d be ready for Carousel LOL. Aside from that my folks were members of The Book of the Month and had a thing for Norman Mailer. As for myself I would h/t Saul Alinsky, Abbie Hoffman, etc, etc. 🙂
Certainly the finacial support for these kind of extreme right wing organizations is a disturbing trend, but I’d like to offer two points.
Terms like “Islamaphobia” are troubling because they treat the criticism of religious beliefs (the very ideas individuals hold about reality) with the same approbation we typically reserve for ethnic or racial prejudice. Any free society should encourage the former (i.e. allow for the criticism of ideas, including religious ideas) and condemn the latter. That is not to say that I’m defending the agendas or activities of the groups you name. But there is an important distinction that must be made between demonizing Muslims and having negative things to say about particular (and extreme) religious ideas and doctrines. To be sure, some of the groups and individuals you identify do both. But if we want Muslims to make that distinction (and we should for a host of reasons) then we should make it as well.
You say “The main problem with Jewish Islamophobia is that it turns the Israeli-Arab conflict into a religious holy war when it’s really a battle over political power.” Yes and no. That cat is already out of the bag. Religious extremists have hijacked this conflict a long time ago. And if it were only a battle about political power it would be easily solvable. Secularists who tend to view the world through the prism of rational self-interest too often fail to appreciate that religious beleivers (many of whom reject any two-state solution on religious grounds) actually do believe the things they say they believe. But I do agree that many of these groups are doing Israel no favors and, by pouring fuel on the fire, are only making a bad problem worse.
I have no problem with criticizing extreme religious beliefs and do so, both Jewish, Muslim & Christian. But I do have a problem with demonizing any religion.
While religion has already taken hold as a poisoning agent in the conflict, I don’t believe it’s playing a determinative role. The conflict will & can only be solved on a political basis. There can be no religious means of resolving this conflict since most (but not all) of those who are religious on both sides are playing an extremely destructive role.
What do you mean “easily solvable?” For a long time, the conflict was mostly political and geopolitical. I don’t think the current religious fervor changes the basic reality. So, how would the problem be “easily” solved without huge transfers of people and land?
Sure there will need to be transfers of land and people. I probably shouldn’t have said “easily” solvable. But nevertheless, it’s solvable. At it’s core, this conflict isn’t much different than countless tribal spats and border disputes which usually, not without ugliness, do get resolved over time. Even today, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians favor a two state solution and everyone knows what the basic paramters of that solution would be. So why can’t it get done? if it was just a question of political will, it would happen. The reason it can’t get done is because of the religious parties. On one side you have culture of martydom, on the other, a messianic settler movement. Both are certain that God want’s them to have this land. Their absolutism and rejection of any compromised solution is rooted entirely in religous belief. So while I certainly agree that funding these extremist groups can only make matters worse, it’s not a new problem.
Of course, the liberal Zionist narrative is like Rodney King’s “why can’t we all just get along.” It’s no one party’s fault, everyone’s at fault and so no one’s at fault.
Sorry fella, we ain’t buying it. Israel is at fault. Hamas, while far from perfect, has shown itself more flexible than any Israeli minister or settler. I don’t know who you think you’re selling this bill of goods to–but it ain’t us.
Oh, I didn’t say that no one is at fault. I said that we might have seen a workable solution by now if the religious parties didn’t have a stranglehold on the process.
I’d be happy to get into a discussion about who is more at fault and about how “flexible” Hamas has really been. (talk about a bill of goods) My point was that religious belief has made what SHOULD simply be a political dispute infinitely more intractable. The Rodney King quips are cute, but I don’t actually see you disagreeing with the point.
@citizen ghost: That’s nonsense. Religion is a complicating factor but not a decisive factor. There is simply no political will on the Israeli side. None. Until there is a massive catastrophe or the world demands it, Israel will not negotiate or settle for peace or anything other than the status quo.
Don’t you identify as a liberal Zionist? What did I miss?
Do you what “liberal Zionist” means? Have you ever heard me call myself that?
I see you called yourself a “progressive Zionist”. I apologize, I had skimmed it quickly.
Quite different than “liberal Zionist.”
It doesn’t matter who is “in favor” of what. Israel killed the two state solution dead and that is history. Except for a tip of the semantic cap from Netanyahu once in a great while, two states are dead. It is dead because there was no political will to make it happen in Israel and no political force to make it happen in the remnants of Palestine. The US could have made it happen but failed miserably. In any case, I expect Obama to go on talking about two states, just to cover that political base, but it has no meaning. Religion, systems of belief, had only a bit part in this outcome.
I’m going off topic here, but I will also mention that any two-state solution Israel would agree to requires Palestine to be completely demilitarized, with Israeli troops still allowed to man border crossings and make incursions into Palestine at will. This is no more than occupation under another name.
“It doesn’t matter who is “in favor” of what…”
I disagree. It matters a lot because that’s what political will MEANS. It’s the very thing that drives it.
Politicians will do what’s politcally expedient – there’s nothing new there. There won’t be a two-state solution (or any solution) if the perpetuation of the conflict is more politically expedient than its resolution. But for those who desire a just solution, it remains the only viable option. But for the religious, the “struggle” is the thing. And if a believer really thinks the land was given to him by God, why would he ever compromise? If a believer thinks the rewards of the next world are more meaningful than the messy business of learning to live in this one, why would he ever compromise?
I think you underestimate how important (and how toxic) religion has been here.
The thing is, Citizen ghost, that the main players are atheists or secular. Religion was just the shoddy excuse to steal Palestinian land; it has much more to do with political power and money, both of which come in part from religious sources. A cheesy misinterpretation and exploitation of religious texts is not religion, it is chicanery. The US Congress doesn’t happily support Israel out of religious fervor, but because zionist money lines its pockets. This is what drives the occupation’s engine – money. If the money was stopped, the occupation would end.
THE AYN RAND INSTITUTE?!
The old philandering atheist has to be rolling in her grave….
I blame Leonard Peikoff.
Ayn Rand was a racist Zionist.
You can find a well-known statement of hers about Israel and specifically Arabs, on YouTube.
Is it fair to say that SOME (NOT ALL) Jews are doing all they can to push the West (led by the US) into a war with Islam? It is so very obvious to me! If you agree, what do you think Muslims (including Palestinian Muslims) need to do in response?
Is it fair to say that SOME (NOT ALL) Muslims are doing all they can to push the Islamic world into a war with the West? It is so very obvious to me! If you agree, what do you think Jews (including Israeli Jews) need to do in response?
Care to name any Islamic foundations which you personally believe are backing a war with the west? If we’re going to suggest a parallel, where is it?
Dr. Soudy, I would say yes – Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller come to mind, but generally I don’t think they are strong enough. Their extremism is just too crazy and they stay on the lunatic fringe of the discourse.
Dear Bon Mann,
I find your comments to be “empty” and will not dignify them with a response in the future…..
Actually no. I don’t think that is a fair thing to say.
Who wants a war with Islam? A few crackpots and bigots?
(Unless you happen to think that any support for Israel or criticism of Hams or Iran is “war with Islam” – in which case Jews “pushing for war” are little different from most Americans).
The vast majority of Jews I know (like most Americans) condemn extremism and condemn terrorism but very much want to see the U.S. repair its relations with Muslims in the world.
But of course if you look for slights, you’ll find them. But criticism is not war. Not even close. The thing that struck me about this blog post is that while the foundations and organizations listed are extreme and do foment hate, the actual dollar amounts were very small. These are not major players. And that’s a very good thing. Hopefully, as their extremism continues to be exposed, they’ll shrink even further. What should Muslims do? I’m probably not qualifed to say but since you asked, I’d say: 1. Take on their own extremists, and 2. Find common ground with the vast majority of Jews instead of looking for ways to be offended and outraged by the few. It can be done. Cheers.
Don’t make me laugh. These three foundations alone give $15-million every year to some of the most extreme Jewish haters in the world. And this is only THREE foundations. It doesn’t include the Hebron Fund or Central Fund for Israel or scores of other funds and foundations giving tens of millions more EVERY year. They’re not shrinking. Only a liberal Zionist could try to see a silver lining in this news.
And you call these “the few?” When they essentially control the Israeli government? You’re deaf, dumb & blind I’m sorry to say.
Don’t you mean “Muslim haters”?
Look, YOU posted the these Foundation figures, not me. I’m glad you did. But do the math: The money going toward those extremist organization – from the major foundations you listed – amounts to a few million – it’s not chump change but it’s not the $15 million figure you cited.
The point is that there are many ways (and charities) to support Israel without demonizing Muslims or supporting settlements on the West bank. I suspect you know this or you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing.
Oh, there IS a silver lining. It’s this: When you expose extremist hate groups (actual extremist groups – not folks like Friends of IDF which basically makes Passover Seders for soldiers) you can marginalize them and get them out of the channels of mainstream philanthropy. I kind of thought that was the point.
WHY does this money get poured into Israel? Why does a foreign country collect donations from Americans when no other country operates this way (like some sort of charity or non-profit organization). Why do Richard and I seem to be the only ones picking up on the obscenity of this?
Mary, you know very well you are not alone. It makes me nauseous to think of the subsidy given to Israel by the US, both public and private. And tax free means that even the private is partly paid by regular taxpayers. Israel is dependent on subsidies: Without the subsidies, the little state could not possibly imprison virtually millions, settle the West Bank, keep a modern army up to date, and enjoy its standard of living. Without the subsidies, immigration from the West would dry up as life there would not be attractive. Even incorporating immigrants into Israeli society is an expensive undertaking.
I am personally convinced that the “mom and pop” offerings to Israel are pure stupid sentimentality. Such people think they are doing something good with a capital “G”. Good for them and good for the noble Israelis fighting off the primitive hoards (“villa in the jungle”.) Maybe something good for their souls. Many factors contribute to the living standard in Israel but this charity has got to be a big part of it. American taxpayers provide each Israeli with about $550-600 per year and this is the tip of the iceberg. Has anyone totaled the value of the annual subsidies to Israel, both private and public? I mean a real total including like the value of certain US benefits, e.g. the unique funding of “aid” at the start of the FY. It can be easily be valued. I would bet it is an important share of the GDP which Israel loves to broadcast. I think this sum is a critical value and it surprises me that it is not studied and estimates available. It surprises me because the sum would be a powerful statement revealing the nature of the state, a big time embarrassment to the government.
Just a note: How many Israelis would take $500,000 to vacate Palestine?
Many would. 40% in a recent poll said they would leave under the right circumstances. I’d say $500K would constitute “the right circumstances” for many.
@citizen ghost: These three foundations give the vast majority of their giving to radical Islamophobic causes including settlers. So yes, that $15 million is largely going straight into those coffers. If you read David Ignatius and the NY Time expose of right wing Jewish donations the amounts going to these people comes close to $100-million a year. It may even be higher. This is 10 to 20 times the amount funding any decent Israeli or Palestinian NGOs.
Friends of the IDF makes “Passover seders for soldiers????” Are you kidding or crazy? You are a lib Zio, aren’t you?
As for my use of the term “Jewish haters,” I meant that they were Jewish and that they hate. Yet, they’re Muslim-haters too.
Good to read the names ! Many thanks. I remember the Hudson Institute for one of its members, who spoke in an unforgettably rude, disrespectful way to Richard Goldstone when he was tesifying before the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on Operation Cast Lead. She started by calling him “Richard” in a genuine Cruella voice.
Castellio, I agree with you. The struggles of the Islamic world against the West (and Israel) even under Islamic banners and slogan, even by religious extremists such as “Al-Qaeda”, whatever it may be, even when they resort to terrorist actions, are essentially rooted in anti-colonialist, anti-Imperialist realities and sentiments. No Islamic extremists have pushed for a war on the West outside of the framework of struggling against Western domination, exploitation and expansionism.
Dr Soudy, Some Jews, perhaps too many for comfort, push for wars on the Islamic world, but that too is framed within their sense of allegiance to Israel and what they perceive to be in its interest. This animosity between Jews and Muslims has not had historical precedence. It is centred on what Israel represents in their minds and indeed on the ground materially.
[comment deleted for being off-topic]
What about these foundations’ influence on other organizations? Koret is also one of the top financial supporters of the Commonwealth Club of California, of which I am a member, and Koret’s CEO sits on the Commonwealth Club’s board. The Club has a “member-led forum” on the Middle East, which has hosted Consul Akiva Tor four times in four years; for the consul’s most recent event, the blurb asks, among other things, “Can Iran’s nuclear weapons program be stopped, and what steps must the international community take to confront this threat to global security?”
@Davey – good questions. I thought Mearsheimer and Walt took a stab at estimating the amount of “charitable contributions” Israel receives on any given year, but I’m actually sure it’s impossible to estimate, especially when some of the money follows a rather convoluted path before it gets there. And the mom-and-pop thing figures in, sure, but I think the multi-million dollar donors like Sheldon Adelson are the big contributors. There are also investors who build settlements, provide seed money for businesses, cough up for political campaigns, etc. And for many, it is an emotional thing. I read an op-ed in Haaretz a couple of days ago by an American Jew who was pushing the demographic panic button, not saying anything particularly exciting, but I was struck by something he said in his opening paragraph – that there was nothing more important to him than the survival of the Jewish state of Israel. His first loyalty was not to America, his homeland, but to a foreign country. This mentality, I think, is behind those donations to Israel more than anything else.
All of it, with perhaps the official US military aid, is based on misplaced, unknowing sentimentality. American Jews say things like you suggest all the time. Imagine if an Arab American proclaimed that the most important thing to him was the survival of Gaza, Palestinian, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt….
“with perhaps the exception of US military aid”
I would like to applaud the rare respect of the journalism chart for which reporters take an oath to tell the truth and not be biased nor corrupted.
It is refreshing whenever I find gems of journalism like you not afraid of speaking the truth.
If I may intervene and give my 2cents:
Wether in France or the US, I wish the comment of citizen ghost was true that “The vast majority of Jews I know (like most Americans) condemn extremism and condemn terrorism but very much want to see the U.S. repair its relations with Muslims in the world.” In reality, that the inverse, the majority of jews are zionists and very few are gems fighting for truth and peace.
Religion’s history taught us that it has always been used to proclaim wars but was (almost) never the real agenda, which was political.
It is sad that freedom of speech and our taxes are used to serve an agenda of Hate and help already a wealth off “forced state” and settlers in the other side of the world while our own people are starving, homeless, uneducated, ill and thus in far much more need unless we are helping third world countries in a sustainable manner- and not depending on us.
I may be living in Utopia but I truly believe that as long as we keep telling and sharing the truth and fighting for human rights and social justice when we see violation, there will be hope for humanity.
ps: it may be useful to mention as a example that all Abrahamic religions used to live together at the time of the prophet Muhammed (saws) on Muslims territories thus it is not religion the flawed variable.
wouldn’t a “progressive zionist” still be in favor of occupied territories?
My views are not those of conventional Zionists. I oppose settlements, Occupation, etc.