At least one campus Hillel (and likely many more) offered students $500 each and lodging to travel to New York to attend the anti-BDS conference held at the UN under the auspices of the Israeli government. Stanford Hillel Rabbi Serena Eisenberg sent a blast e-mail to students on the Hillel list containing the offer. The message indicated the special donor would offer students accommodation at her home.
Given that the conference was held in New York, this would mean the donor had a rather large home there. Also given that the donor’s identity was female, it narrowed the number of people it could be. My guess was Nina Rosenwald, founder of the Gatestone Institute, and one of the leading funder of the Islamophobia Industry.
I contacted her by e-mail and asked to speak with her. She insisted that I send her written questions, which I did. She replied asking if I was the Richard Silverstein who wrote Tikun Olam. I didn’t see what my identity should have to do with answering my simple straight-forward questions and told her I hoped she would avail herself of the opportunity to stand up for her beliefs and her philanthropic decisions. She has not replied as of when this post was published.
I also contacted Rabbi Eisenberg, who immediately returned my phone call. When I asked her my first question, instead of answering she asked who I was. When she heard my name she immediately told me she was in the middle of a conference and could only respond to written questions. I told her the questions I had to ask would be extremely brief, but she said it was impossible to talk. So I sent my written questions to her. She hasn’t replied to them either.
I also called Danny Danon, Israel’s UN ambassador, to ask for their comment on this story. The receptionist said the chief of staff was out of town and would answer my call when he returned. I asked if there was a press attaché I could speak with and she said only the chief of staff could answer my questions. He too has not responded to me.
Given Nina Rosenwald’s radio silence concerning my question about whether she was the donor funding the bounty, I’d say the chances are excellent that she was Danny Danon’s Sugar Mamma. I wanted to ask her if she funded any other aspects of the conference. But of course, she hasn’t chosen to answer.
For Stanford students to receive this munificent offer I’d guess there’s some sort of relationship either between Rosenwald and Stanford Hillel or between Eisenberg and Rosenwald. I did not see any philanthropic giving from Rosenwald’s family foundations to Stanford Hillel in the most recent IRS 990 report (though there is a donation to Stanford’s neo-conservative Hoover Institution). This alliance further substantiates the charge that Hillel, once one of the most diverse and tolerant of Jewish organizations, has become captive to the interests of far-right pro-Israel mega-donors like Rosenwald.
One of the questions I asked Eisenberg and Rosenwald was: how many other campuses received such an offer? I’d guess there were others. So it’s hard to hazard a guess how much the Islamophobe funder shelled out on behalf of the anti-BDS shindig.
What’s interesting about the bounty is Rosenwald’s conviction that it was important to recruit students from across the nation to hear the anti-BDS program offered there. It turns those who accepted the funding into not just pro-Israel advocates, but political mercenaries. With polls noting the increasing alienation of the younger Jewish American generation from Israel–is this what’s required to get a full house?
Among the propagandists they heard were Frank Luntz, who told them the golden words which would melt the heart of BDS supporters and transform them into Israel lovers forever. Ambassador Danon fed them the Zio red-meat message that BDS was anti-Semitic (“the true face of modern anti-Semitism”) and sought to destroy Israel.
It’s ironic that the venue for the event was the UN General Assembly, the same hall where Israel was declared a state in 1948. The symbolism was undoubtedly deliberate on the part of Danon. But others might think more sadly of the symbolism of latter-day Israel believing that its very existence was threatened by a non-violent international movement demanding the same rights for the Palestinian people that are enjoyed by the Israeli people, thanks in part to the UN itself.