Richard Allen of New York City, is said to have quietly raised millions of dollars for Israel. In 2011, he and his wife were awarded the Theodor Herzl Medallion by Israel Bonds and the Israeli Minister of Finance. But lately, Richard Allen has become both the most criticized and the most listened-to man in the New York City Jewish community. What is he now trying to do for Israel, and why?
Richard Allen, you are a businessman. Why did you decide to get involved in public affairs?
JCCWatch.org started in November 2010, with our first internet post — a smiling photo of Uri Zaki, U.S. director of B’Tselem, standing behind a table given to him by our local Jewish Community Center, the JCC in Manhattan. Zaki was raising money to promote an anti-Israel agenda, handing out literature that defames our people, while soliciting contributions, all from inside the JCC in Manhattan.
I love Israel and the Jewish people. The buck stops here. We cannot turn a blind eye to Israel’s detractors. I decided to do something.
We started JCCWatch.org to protest the presence of B’Tselem and the New Israel Fund (NIF) at the Jewish Community Center. The JCC did get this message from the community, and has somewhat modified their public support for nefarious organizations.
Another community center that we protested in New York City was the 92nd Street Y, where a similar event happened. That Jewish institution was being used by supporters of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, leader of the international boycott against Israel movement. Waters was invited to speak and the lecture was paid for and promoted by the 92nd Street Y. This, we vowed, would not stand; we launched two highly publicized protests in front of the institution that resulted in the event not taking place.
Lately, JCCWatch has been outspoken about the “UJA-Federation.” What’s the issue?
What’s happening is that a huge Jewish charitable institution, the UJA-Federation, created nearly 100 years ago, is funding programs that are actually against the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The JCC and the 92nd Street Y are both beneficiary agencies of the UJA-Federation. It’s really unbelievable how far we’ve come, and in absolutely the wrong direction. This is how our enemies battle us from within.
Aside from misuse of community centers, the UJA-Federation has, through its financial apparatus, handed over nearly $6 million to the New Israel Fund. The New Israel Fund gives money to groups which denigrate Israel in the international arena.
We ask the simple question . . . why is the UJA-Federation funneling Jewish charitable dollars to grind out propaganda against Israel and against the Jewish people? We must object, because this Jewish institution, the UJA Federation, has an important history of supporting Jews and Israel, but has now become a Trojan horse that finances our own destruction.
What worries you about the New Israel Fund?
Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has always been a forum for those who hate Israel, heard from grantees of the New Israel Fund who accused Israel of war crimes. It’s unbelievable!
This past summer, Israel was forced to defend millions of its citizens from massive Palestinian rocket attacks in Operation Tzuk Eitan. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers died, and five civilians were killed from indiscriminate Hamas rocket fire into Israel. Many hundreds were injured; and the New Israel Fund’s grantees’ response to this nationwide crisis was to go on an anti-Israel, anti-IDF rant! They called on the UN to “condemn” the “deliberate, systematic and widespread targeting” of Palestinian civilians by Israel and by the IDF. They told the UN that unnamed “Israeli government officials and members of Knesset” were also guilty of “racism” as well as “incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
It would make more sense if UJA-Federation-funded groups would protest the inhumanity of the Hamas regime that launched the war that harmed their own people and ours, rather than to protest the Israelis who fought for the defense of all of Israel – Arab, Jewish, and Christian.
So the New Israel Fund should be worrying all Israelis?
Definitely. The UJA-Federation has also given $300,000 to produce documentary films that defame the Jewish State of Israel.
The New Israel Fund has also stated very clearly that it will not disqualify organizations for funding if they work for boycotting “settlement goods.” In other words, NIF admits that it is financing groups who promote boycotting an entire sector of the economy of Israel and the livelihoods of many Jews and Arabs.
This word, “settlements” has become a loaded word used as a weapon to delegitimize all of Israel.
The Government of Israel and the Knesset regard boycotts of Israeli communities as a call to boycott all of Israel – that is what Israel’s Boycott Law says. There has already been a divestment from all the major Israeli banks because these banks, obviously, have customers in “settlements.”
“Friends” of Israel should not be boycotting – to give some examples – the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, or Israeli Supreme Court Justice Noam Solberg, or war heroes Roi Klein, Uriel and Eliraz Peretz, and Beniya Sarel, or the three kidnapped Gush Etzion high school students whose murders shocked the Jewish world – etcetera.
And in the media! The New Israel Fund has financed ‘Breaking the Silence.’ HonestReporting.com said “Too often, … unnamed sources are a feature of media stories … that impact negatively on Israel.” Reuters published that Israel inflicted “massive and unprecedented harm” to Palestinian civilians — citing anonymous “testimony” given by ‘Breaking the Silence.’
And nonetheless, the New Israel Fund is funded by American Jews, by the UJA-Federation through its affiliates – and also by European governments.
Who is Alisa Doctoroff? JCCWatch.org has criticized her.
Alisa Doctoroff, UJA-Federation President, is personally a significant donor to the New Israel Fund. She also sits on the Board of the Jewish Communal Fund, which is a 100%, wholly-owned entity of the UJA-Federation that is sending the money. The Jewish Communal Fund authorized close to $6 million to go to the New Israel Fund. This is what we’re against. What we’re asking for is accountability – personal and organizational.
What does the Israel Day Parade have to do with this?
The New Israel Fund, as the financier of anti-Israel, anti-IDF incitement, should not be allowed to participate and promote itself in the Israel Day Parade. We see this as a conscious effort by UJA-Federation leadership to legitimize groups who are actually battling against Israel in the international arena, and to kosher them in the eyes of the mainstream American Jewish community. JCCWatch.org has been calling attention to this for the past five years. The parade is organized by the JCRC – the New York Jewish Community Relations Council – and the council is also funded by the UJA-Federation.
The parade is just one day out of the year. Our fight is ongoing. The flagship organization of the American Jewish community in New York promotes and finances groups that denigrate – we’re letting people know all the details. This cannot stand! The UJA-Federation’s job is to provide for the needy, and support Israel and Jewish continuity. Giving cover to the NIF to defame Israel should not be on that list.
Where do the dollars go and in what way do they hurt Israel?
For example, the UJA-Federation of New York funneled $300,000 through its wholly-owned Jewish Communal Fund subsidiary, to a group called ‘Just Visions’ which produces anti-Israel films. Here is an example: My Neighborhood (2012), which according to the official website is about “a Palestinian boy …in … Jerusalem [whose] family loses half of their home to Israeli settlers leading a campaign of court-sanctioned evictions.” So this movie “proves” to people who don’t know better, that Israeli courts are unjust, Israeli “settlers” are wicked (implying that Israel should repudiate them and go back to their old defenseless pre-67 lines), and the Palestinians are the good guys. Against whom? Jews.
Yet another example: B’Tselem, which received $192,295 last year from the New Israel Fund, published an Op-Ed in The New York Times, calling Israel’s democracy – the only democracy in the Middle East – a “charade.”
Is Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett aware of this?
I certainly hope so. The Israeli government has just lodged a formal complaint against the government of Switzerland because it funds ‘Breaking the Silence.’ A government spokesman told AFP: “We cannot accept the actions of an organization whose aim is to smear soldiers in the Israeli army.” So why should the UJA-Federation, with whom the Diaspora Affairs Minister is in contact, funnel donations toward ‘Breaking the Silence?’ This twisting of Jewish charitable dollars to fund the delegitimization of Israel and Israelis is what we’re against.
One response to your campaign is criticism by powerful Jewish media and officials. Not of “Breaking the Silence” but of you. Here’s an example: “JCCWatch.org’s latest effort [is] an irresponsible claim in the spirit of the McCarthy era … based on the notion that UJA-Federation is responsible for … donations made through … a donor-advised fund … (T)he JCF grant process .. is up to individual donors.”
This is laughable because these same critics admit that the UJA-Federation established the Jewish Communal Fund. Why so much pretense you’ll have to ask them, but for financial purposes and ownership, this is one organization under the laws of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). And setting aside the legal and accounting questions for a moment, the bylaws of the Jewish Communal Fund require Alisa Doctoroff and the Board of the Jewish Communal Fund to take action against requests for funding that aren’t in the interests of the Jewish community. The responsibility of Doctoroff and the board members is this: to “deny any grant request where the purposes and activities of the recommended charitable organization are deemed to be adverse to the interests of the Jewish community.” The Jewish people should ask . . . is it right for a Jewish institution to use community charitable dollars to fund anti Israel groups, given that these groups are ”adverse to the interests of the State of Israel and the Jewish people?”
JCCWatch.org is being accused of “communal disunity.” And Gary Rosenblatt wrote that when “Jewish Unity Prizes” were recently presented, “not surprisingly”, JCCWatch.org was not among the prize recipients.
If Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of the Jewish Week, is concerned about unity, he should be criticizing members of the Jewish community, and Jewish institutions, who finance Israel’s enemies by using Jewish communal charitable funds to send groups to the United Nations to delegitimize Israel on the world stage. That’s not us. By the way, the Jewish Week has its own ties with the UJA-Federation. It was once 100% owned and still has common board membership with the UJA-Federation board. These facts have not been publicly disclosed by Gary Rosenblatt.
Your critics insist that the New Israel Fund and its grantees all “seek to strengthen” the State of Israel, “each in our own way.”
No. Theirs is not bona-fide criticism of Israel. They are funding de-legitimization of Israel. Their aim is “to smear soldiers in the Israeli army in the international arena and to cause serious harm to Israel’s image” – as a Government of Israel spokesperson put it recently very clearly.
Some of those whom you are opposing are getting high salaries. The UJA-Federation is said to have an annual payroll of close to $43 million, including $4.5 million for the top dozen executives. What about you?
I am a volunteer for Israel Bonds. No compensation whatsoever. My efforts are motivated by my desire to help the Jewish State of Israel. The same at JCCWatch.org, we are a completely volunteer organization with volunteer accountants, lawyers, and research investigators. When we call for a protest hundreds of volunteers heed the call and respond.
Richard Allen, Founder of JCCWatch.org, what’s your message?
I’m asking all those who donate to UJA-Federation to speak up and tell the UJA-Federation to stop funding the New Israel Fund and anti-Israel groups.
I personally have closed my wallet to the UJA until I am convinced that the UJA-Federation has stopped any financial support or promotion for BDS groups against Israel. The UJA-Federation should establish strong guidelines for themselves and their beneficiary agencies to prevent funding and promoting of BDS groups.
In this period, we see rising hatred from the nations only 70 years after our own near destruction and this amazing rebirth of Israel. We all must learn the facts about how forces within the “big tent” are trying to bring it down on top of us. I see the leadership of the UJA-Federation abandoning the guiding principle of support for the land and people of Israel. Let’s all say the buck stops here, take responsibility, and reject BDS, so next year, we all march together in the Israel Day Parade and work for a strong and secure Israel and Jewish community.