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Richard Silverstein: Jewish Foundations Support Islamophobia at Home, Settler Triumphalism Abroad

Irving Moskowitz surrounded by settlers and security as they ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem Palestinian home (Awad Awad/AFP)

Irving Moskowitz surrounded by settlers and security as they ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem Palestinian home (Awad Awad/AFP)

Jewish Foundations Support Islamophobia at Home, Settler Triumphalism Abroad

by Richard Silverstein (Tikun Olam)

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

Heritage Foundation

Hudson Institute

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)
$20,000 (2012)

American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise (former Aipac staffer, Mitchell Bard)
$50,000 (2012)

Central Fund for Israel


David Horowitz Freedom Center

Federalist Society

Friends of the IDF

Hudson Institute

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)


Young Israel

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)

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  • Just_Stopping_By

    Given that there has been a lot of misunderstanding and misuse of terminology on this thread, that’s a fair question.

    Chabad is a movement in Orthodox Judaism dating back to the late 1700s (i.e., about a century before the emergence of Zionism). They are generally known for pushing for Jews to be more religious, in a belief that that may hasten the coming of the messiah. They are known for handing out dollars for people to donate to charity and for being out in their long black coats on streets in NYC asking passersby if they are Jewish and want to pray.

    In terms of belief, they are mostly traditional Jewish, with the standard definitions of who is a Jew and so forth, but with an emphasis on what one may call proselytizing among Jews; since the death of the last rebbe (leader), there have been some controversial changes in view in some of them as to how that may relate to messianic prophecies.

    Within Chabad, there are of course some who are anti-Islam and others who are very comfortable with Muslims. One group from the latter was featured on this site:

    Chabad is also known as the sponsor of missions to Jews around the world, including the one attacked in Mumbai. An interesting letter after the incident from one of their sites is here: (“we Jews and Muslims are brothers, children of one father, Abraham, who taught the world that there is a single G‑d on High, a G‑d who cares for all the creatures He has made and pleads with us to care for
    them as well. We share a common vision of a world filled with knowledge of the divine, of peace between all men and of heaven upon earth.”)

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    I mentioned this so you could explain what Chabad is , most people here might not know
    Sir David

  • Ilisha

    All of your pro-democracy efforts will be turned against you as being “anti-Semitic”.

    Except that I don’t remember ever being called an anti-Semite. Seriously. I’ve been talking about Israel, quite bluntly, for a long time, and I don’t think anyone has made that accusation against me. Not even on forums where most of the other posters were Jews.

    In effect, pro-democracy = holy war according to your framing, since the Zionism and racism to which you have conceded oppose democracy categorically.

    No, I never said that pro-democracy = holy war. I said bringing Judaism into the discussion lends to the notion of a holy war.

    I conceded to Zionism and racism? Wow. Have you read my comments on this thread? I’m pretty sure most people would disagree with you.

    I said let’s stop redefining Judaism. I don’t view that as necessary or helpful.

  • Chameleon_X

    “This is primarily a land dispute, and I think it makes sense to frame it that way.”

    So there is no particular motive for this “land dispute” then? All these atrocities against Palestinians are simply so that some people want land for the sake of land. Just a few overly ambitious Jewish farmers, perhaps? Since this land is hardly prime farmland, is there oil under it that no one knows about? That is an interesting view, but the standard resource conflict motive of IR theory simply does not apply here. For one, it doesn’t explain why these atrocities are allowed to happen in only one racist direction under the oversight of a “democratic” and “advanced” country like Israel. Nor does it explain why such one-sided atrocities don’t happen anywhere else in the world except when motivated by racism. If you aren’t addressing the root cause of politically-motivated racism justified by a provably twisted view of religious doctrine, then you are just addressing symptoms.

    “Your argument puts emphasis on the religious aspect of the I/P conflict. It is not fundamentally a holy war between Judaism and Islam.”

    That is exactly my point. Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism. When you don’t decouple the two and you allow Zionists to frame the conflict such that opposition to Zionism equals opposition to Judaism, then you have already lost the conflict. All of your pro-democracy efforts will be turned against you as being “anti-Semitic”. Based on your comments on this thread, it is quite clear that you have already conceded to the sanctity of Zionism or some irrational race-based interpretation of Judaism, which is very unfortunate, since Palestinians have no hope to win freedom from racism if they concede to racist lies.

    My guess is that some very well-meaning and genuinely friendly — but “heavily persuaded” — Jewish friends of yours convinced you that Zionism and racism are not really the problem at all. In every country where systematic racism has thrived, the general populace has sincerely been a very nice people, but that is only because they didn’t see how much they tacitly supported that racism and how heavily influenced by propaganda they were. History can be a very uncomfortable teacher sometimes.

    When you agree to allow Zionism or similar racist dogmas to be melded with Judaism by calling it “traditional Judaism”, you are actually the one who is choosing to engage in a holy war when you oppose Zionism in any way with your pro-democracy efforts. In effect, pro-democracy = holy war according to your framing, since the Zionism and racism to which you have conceded oppose democracy categorically. I reject that framing totally as a doomed strategy based on an irrational premise, since Judaism is not the problem, Zionism is.

    Anyway, best of luck with your approach. I choose a different path.

    “I’m sure you wouldn’t accept similar arguments telling you how to interpret your religion.”

    That is absolutely wrong, and you know it. I accept any and all arguments against Islam — bring it, as I say, over and over again. I welcome the challenge. In fact, I love it. As I have said on many threads, I challenge anyone and everyone to tell me how to interpret Islam if they think I am wrong or Islam is wrong. I have even said I don’t mind if you want to make totally obnoxious claims against Islam that you believe to be true. My only condition is that you be ready to back them up and suffer the consequences of being intellectually humiliated if you are wrong. If someone’s faith is truly that strong, then one’s bravery to challenge that faith should be equally so. It is never offensive to challenge irrationality when irrationality persecutes, oppresses and kills.

  • Ilisha

    Fairy tail claim? Israeli racism against blacks is well known, even in Israel.

    Israel’s Anti-Black Pogrom
    Is the Jewish state becoming Klan country?
    by Justin Raimondo, January 07, 2013

    A screaming mob of whites gathers in a public square, their placards proclaiming their hatred of blacks, their shouts of “N—-r!” reverberating and bouncing off the walls of nearby shops and homes like the ominous thunder of a coming storm. They loot shops that cater to blacks, and a prominent elected official is at the head of the mob, declaring that blacks are “a cancer” that must be eradicated.

    Mississippi in the Sixties? A neo-Nazi rally? A Klan conclave?

    No, it’s a recent scene in southern Tel Aviv, Israel, where Likud member of the Knesset Miri Regev – a former IDF spokesperson and prominent political figure – led a well-organized march of ultra-nationalists demanding the expulsion of all blacks from Israel

    Israeli Ethiopians suffer from racism directed at African migrants
    Amid racist incidents targeting African migrants in Israel, more and more Ethiopians are reluctant to be seen in characteristically African areas, to avoid becoming the accidental victims of a violent attack, or racial slurs.

    During one of the protests against the African migrant communities in June, Hananiya Venda, an employee of the Israel antiquities Authority and a blogger, was mistaken as Sudanese, and attacked by the crowd. Following the incident, Elias Inbram, a lawyer, had a special t-shirt printed, which read “I’m not an African infiltrator.”…

    Israel’s treatment of Ethiopians ‘racist’
    Jonathan Cook

    …About 90,000 Ethiopians have been brought to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has subsequently been questioned by some rabbis and is doubted by many ordinary Israelis.

    Ethiopians are reported to face widespread discrimination in jobs, housing and education and it recently emerged that their blood donations were routinely discarded. “This is about reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor,” said Hedva Eyal, the author of the report by Woman to Woman, a feminist organisation based in Haifa, in northern Israel. “The unspoken policy is that only children who are white and Ashkenazi are wanted in Israel</,” she said, referring to the term for European Jews who founded Israel and continue to dominate its institutions.

    Israel “more inhuman” than apartheid South Africa, ANC conference told

    Film explores striking parallels between South African, Israeli apartheid

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    I am not suggesting that you are implying all Jews are zionists I am suggesting that Mr Silverstein is implying it.
    A different kettle of fish altogether
    As for being critical of the state of Isreal and the neocolonist Zionist criminals I am happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with you.
    But as for telling people they are or are not Jewish , this comes a bit close to the loons coming on this web site telling Muslims what they must believe in.
    It’s not a winning argument however logical or factual you may be. Because it’s a belief system it’s like our discussion about God ( existence of )

    Sir David

  • Ilisha

    I don’t find anything new in this article. These are the same issues we’ve been rehashing since I came of age, with perhaps slightly different twists as the situation evolves. Fundamentally, the issues have been the same for the last 20 years, since the DOP was signed.

    In any case, I’m immediately skeptical of a Palestinian who employs words like, “Islamist.” He is defeatist, and I think he’s wrong about Palestinian public opinion. I no longer know any Palestinians who accept the two-state solution. Exactly none.

    Obviously there still are some, but one of our objectives will be to turn them against it in favor of the pro-democracy struggle. I think we can gain momentum fairly easily.

    Someone told me recently the Palestinians were out protesting, and some started throwing rocks. At Israeli soldiers? No. At Palestinian police. They say Israel is outsourcing the occupation to the PA, and Palestinian “leaders” are quislings.

    Marwan Barghouti is the one people admire, and people are listening to him. Israel’s abuse of him just makes him more credible:

    Where is the Palestinian Nelson Mandela?

    Geneva was a cherry deal for Israel. They would’ve gotten almost 80% of historic Palestine, but they want all the land. Thanks to unflinching US funding and cover, they’re in a position to take it.

    If I were a supporter of the Jewish state, I wouldn’t be wasting my time arguing with me. I’d be arguing with Israeli hardliners.

    I’d tell them to halt the settlements, sign Geneva, and implement it in earnest, without delay. That’s what a real friend of Israel would do, before the “threat” of the pro-democracy struggle reaches the tipping point.

  • Sarka

    The following

    is a very interesting and detailed piece (interviiew) with Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian commentator and analyst in Ramallah, It’s very recent, and about one-state, two-state issues and opinion and prospects. I think he agrees with you in some ways but in a lot of practical ways doesn’t…and he brings Palestinian nationalism into the equation in useful contexts. Just thought you would like to read it. .

  • Ilisha

    Now I have a better understanding of your argument, but I really think you should reconsider your position on Judaism. Please hear me out.

    Your argument puts emphasis on the religious aspect of the I/P conflict. It is not fundamentally a holy war between Judaism and Islam. Framing it that way is inaccurate and unhelpful. I’ve been arguing vehemently against that frame for years. This is primarily a land dispute, and I think it makes sense to frame it that way. It’s certainly less emotionally charged, as well as more factually accurate, I would argue.

    Also, your arguments attack taditional Judaism. This is offensive, and even antisemitic, to many people. I really don’t think you’ll convince Jews, or even non-Jews with this approach. I find it offensive and wrong headed, and I’m not Jewish.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t accept similar arguments telling you how to interpret your religion. In fact, you would argue vigorously against them, if your comments on various threads here are any indication. I admire your staunch defense of Islam, and unwillingness to accept something as “Islamic” when it clearly isn’t. Why would Jews react any differently when their interpretation and practice of their own religion is challenged?

  • Ilisha

    No, I don’t think I misunderstood. I mean to assert moral equivalence between the SA regime in the apartheid era and the current Israeli regime. That’s the point.

    Few analogies are perfect. Israeli apartheid is not identical to SA apartheid, and I already acknowledged that.

    You say one state is impossible, and I say it’s inevitable. Israel depends on outside support to survive, and world opinion is shifting. There are so many signs. Even evangelical Christians are starting to push back, much to the dismay of Israel’s suppoters in the US. I think some credit for that should go to Palestinian Christians, who’ve been reaching out through Karos Palestine. That document also leverages the SA analogy.

    We will advocate democracy for all, and I think that’s a very powerful argument. If Israel’s supporters are disappointed with the turn of events, they have Israeli leaders to blame.

    We will see what’s possible and what’s not.

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