N.Y. Fabric Store Is Home to Tax-Deductible Fund for ‘Urgent Security Needs’ of Jewish Settlers

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One of the fervid Jewish settlers who was evicted from that disputed house in Hebron last week, Nadia Matar, has sent out a defiant email:

“There is no doubt, the more violence they use against us, the more it
proves how scared they are of the new generation of proud Jews that is
emerging in Judea and Samaria in particular and all over Israel in
general. A new generation that is not scared to declare: ‘The Land of
Israel was given by G-d to the People of Israel and no one has the
right to give it away’.”

Then Matar asked for money:

U.S. dollar checks are tax deductible only if they are made out to the “Central Fund for Israel”. They may be mailed to… Central Fund for Israel, 980 Sixth Ave., 3rd. Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018. You must advise the Central Fund for Israel that the donation is intended for Women In Green by earmarking the check “Women in Green” [an organization of settlers]

That address belongs to Marcus Brothers Textiles, Inc. Jay Marcus, a settler in Efrat, is listed as the administrator of the Central Fund. A pro-Israel website lists the Central Fund/Jay Marcus and then directs Jews to “browse” settlement communities to figure out to whom they wish to earmark their Central Fund contribution. Jay’s father Arthur Marcus lives on the Upper West Side and he is the vice president of the Central Fund. Hadassah Marcus, who shares Arthur’s address, is the president.

Weiss called Marcus Fabrics and asked to talk to the Central Fund. “You want Arthur,” the woman answering the phone said, and put me through. Arthur Marcus said: “There is no connection to Marcus Fabrics except that I get paid by Marcus. The Central Fund has no overhead at all… Central Fund exists. It has for years. We do our thing.”

Arthur Marcus is deadset against the two-state solution. “Any Palestinian state is going to be a mortal threat to the state of Israel.”

According to guidestar.org, Central Fund is a 501c3 tax-deductible charity. The latest government form filled out by Arthur Marcus (and filed in 2006) lists the 6th Avenue address as its address and states that Central Fund took in and spent about $8 million that year. The money went to “support of religious institutions… construction and maintenance of synagogues,” building schools, and chiefly, humanitarian aid to individuals “well below the poverty line.”

Also: “Security program.” Arthur wrote: “With security a constant problem, this category runs the gamut from providing firefighting equipment to providing a fence around a baseball field.” Central Fund’s 2005 form lists “contributions to try to answer urgent security needs,” at the cost of nearly $300,000. The 2004 form uses that same language: answering “urgent security needs.”

In the interview, Marcus said the “Marcus brothers” were an earlier generation. He said he and his son Jay Marcus both “work for Marcus brothers… and we can service the Israeli charities that don’t have their own American tax-deductible status” but are trying to get it. He is able to get the money over to the West Bank with minimal amounts taken out. Indeed, the government forms say that Arthur Marcus and his wife Hadassah both spend 20 hours a week, without pay, on the Central Fund, and pay all postage and overhead themselves, while Jay spends 35 hours a week on the effort in Efrat (even as he’s working for the fabric store!).

Here’s the Marcus Brothers Fabric company’s list of charities website.
It mentions lots of causes, from breast cancer to quilts for sick kids. Doesn’t mention supporting illegal settlements in the West Bank. Just think what these settlements are doing to the lives of Palestinians, let alone the future of two states in historical Palestine. And then there’s the double standard of how Arab, Muslim and Palestinian charities are treated. The most glaring case being the Holy Land Foundation, the largest Islamic charity in the U.S., aimed at relieving suffering in the West Bank, which has been completely shut down because of alleged ties to Hamas.

–Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz

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