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Jewish Communal Fund board member compares Jewish critics to David Duke following report showing organization’s ties to anti-Muslim hate groups

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In an response to activists who wrote a report about a leading Jewish charity donating millions to “anti-Muslim hate groups” a board member of the foundation has likened the authors to former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and said the findings are “spewage.”

The report, “The Shame of the UJA-Federation of New York: How Its Jewish Communal Fund Supports Anti-Muslim Hate Groups,” was published last December by three New York based activists groups, Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism, Jews Say NO!, and Jewish Voice for Peace–New York City.

By reviewing tax records researchers tallied the Jewish Communal Fund (JCF), the largest Jewish donor advised fund in the U.S., handed out more than $2 million in disbursements to six anti-Muslim groups and also received contributions from far right groups. 

Donor advised funds allow contributors to pool their money and make tax deductible gifts to charities. Backers are anonymous and are allowed to give input on what projects the charity supports.

After scouring tax records of charities thought to have contributed to the JCF, the report learned of two previously unknown backers. The JCF received nearly $1 million from the Abstraction Fund and the Gotham Charitable Trust, two foundations that were named in an “Islamophobia network” compiled by the Center for American Progress.

“While JCF has numerous ways to let people know about its funding of community, health, and other such organizations, it does not include in its various public relations materials any indication that it supports anti-Muslim groups,” the report said, “As a result, relatively few JCF grantees and members of the UJA-Federation community even know that JCF funds anti-Muslim hate.”

The Abstraction Fund, one of many charities run by the Gatestone Institute’s Nina Rosenwald, gave $130,000 to the JCF between 2009 and 2012. And the Gotham Charitable Foundation Trust invested $883,953 in the JCF from 2011 to 2016. Both charities were listed in the Center for American Progress’ project Fear Inc. that maps a hub of charities that support anti-Muslim causes.

The Gotham Charitable Trust also gave more than $100,000 to the Friends of Ir David, an American fundraising arm for an Israeli settler organization in East Jerusalem.

Photograph of emails between a JCF board member and activist Donna Nevel, obtained by Mondoweiss.

After publication the report’s authors, via Donna Nevel from the group Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism, asked the board of the JCF to reconsider funding six specific anti-Muslim organizations.

In emails obtained by Mondoweiss, the report authors wrote to the JCF board on January 17,

“These JCF grants are in contradiction with Jewish values we hold dear and with the JCF’s own mission of charitable giving. We hope you agree with us that no amount of funding for good work justifies a penny going to the kind of vile hate that places an entire community in jeopardy and is an affront to all groups that seek a more just society.”

A board member, whose name is being withheld from publication, responded,

“If David Duke authored the report, I wouldn’t waste any time reading it; same here…”

In terms of what projects the JCF backs, the report noted $2,082,212 went to six major anti-Muslim organizations between 2013 and 2017 including the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the Clarion Project, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Daniel the Middle East Forum and the Middle East Media Research Institute.

This builds off of similar research by journalist Eli Clifton who in 2015 examined the JCF’s earlier financial statements.

“An examination of the grants listed in JCF tax filings from 2001 to 2013 reveals approximately $1.5 million going to groups that largely exist to spread Islamophobic and anti-Muslim messages,” Clifton wrote. He also reported for the Forward the JCF supported the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization run by Pamela Geller, a firebrand advocate known for bus advertisements denouncing the Quran, protesting the construction of a mosque in New York city, an early champion of Milo Yinnopoulos.  Geller was banned from entering the United Kingdom for “extremism” in 2013 when she planned to take part in an event by the English Defence League. 

“This network cannot survive and thrive without funding. JCF enables the spread of anti-Muslim hatred by funding anti-Muslim groups,” said the report.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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3 Responses

  1. RoHa on January 26, 2019, 1:41 am

    “This builds off of similar research by journalist Eli Clifton”

    Is there anything which builds on that research?

    “Pamela Geller, a firebrand advocate known for bus advertisements lauding the Quran”

    I haven’t seen her bus advertisements praising the Quran. Any examples?

  2. gamal on January 26, 2019, 12:32 pm

    “a board member of the foundation has likened the authors to former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and said the findings are “spewage.” ”

    the spewage seems to be getting on everything…and remember Jews are quite as likely to be accused of anti-semitism as anyone else…let freedom ring.

    “In an email sent to a selected group of members, whose contact details were presumably gained through access to the membership list, the MP informed those who he deemed to be his supporters of the date and time of the meeting – some 16 days before the CLP Secretary sent a notification email to the whole membership list, which went out only seven days before the meeting.

    The MP also offered to have members of his “local team… give you a call” in the email. Some members did subsequently receive calls from people who are not permitted to have access to the membership list. In the email, our MP also wrote, “The proponents of the changes are the same people who backed an anti-Semite for the NEC and refused to back a motion to support Black and Ethnic Minority candidates.”

    Neither myself nor the other proposer of the AMM motion supported Pete Willsman (who I assume he was referring to) in his candidacy for the NEC, neither publicly nor privately. What was particularly insulting was that both I and the other proposer have Jewish family background, which the MP was well aware of in my case.

    To be falsely accused of “supporting an anti-Semite” by someone who isn’t Jewish, and has a great deal of influence, for simply proposing a common rule change was extremely hurtful. In addition, I have never been at any Labour Party meeting where a motion “to support Black and Ethnic Minority candidates” was debated, nor would I refuse to back such a motion. Having spoken to other members of my CLP, they do not recall a motion of that description ever being debated”

  3. Nevada Ned on January 27, 2019, 11:03 pm

    Two words omitted!

    It currently reads….In terms of what projects…”Daniel the Middle East Forum”

    it should read “Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum”

    a great article.

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