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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
$80,000

Ateret Cohanim (De-Arabizing East Jerusalem)
$30,000

Kiryat Arba Yeshiva
$110,000

Center for Security Policy (Frank Gaffney’s Sharia-obsessed non-profit)
$100,000

Central Fund for Israel (general support for radical settlers and settlements)
$150,000

CAMERA (right-wing media advocacy)
$25,000

David Horowitz Freedom Center
$160,000

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
$190,000

Heritage Foundation
$50,000

Hudson Institute
$75,000

Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes)
$270,000

Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE-David Yerushalmi)
$90,000

Zionist Organization of America
$200,000

* 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
$20,000

Chabad
$80,000

David Horowitz Freedom Center
$45,000

Federalist Society
$180,000

Friends of the IDF
$22,000

Hudson Institute
$25,000

Institute for Jewish and Community Research (funding Ken Marcus’ campus anti-Semitism initiative)
$100,000

The Israel Project
$50,000

Investigative Project on Terrorism
$25,000

Jewish Agency (Natan Sharansky)
$45,000

Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes)
$50,000

MEMRI
$200,000

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
$70,000

StandWithUs (Bay Area chapter, one of whose members engaged in a physical assault at a Jewish Voice for Peace meeting)
$50,000

Ayn Rand Institute
$13,000

Center for Security Policy
$225,000

* These are the grants listed in the Moskowitz Foundation’s 2011 IRS report:

Central Fund for Israel
$260,000

Ir David (the settler archaeological excavations which are at the heart of the campaign to depopulate Palestinian East Jerusalem)
$1,000,000

Friends of IDF
$40,000

Honenu (legal defense for settlers accused of nationalist violence like Yigal Amir)
$20,000

MEMRI
$100,000

Young Israel
$100,000

Zionist Organization of America
$100,000

Western Wall Foundation
$100,000

Friends of Itamar
$25,000

Center for Security Policy
$100,000

Americans for a Safe Israel
$50,000

Nefesh B’Nefesh (supporting immigration, often to settlements)
$300,000

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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:http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/01/repairing-the-world-the-story-of-a-synagogue-in-a-mosque/.

    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: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/788899/jewish/Letter-to-Ahmed.htm. (“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

  • 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.

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Chameleon
    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

  • Sarka

    The following

    http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022125

    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. .

  • Chameleon_X

    Sir David,

    I think you must have missed my recent post two posts above yours. That explains my motive very clearly, which can be summarized even more succinctly as “a true Democracy for all who live in Israel and the occupied territories.” Zionism is the racist ideology that has gotten in the way of that democracy since the beginning of Israel’s existence. Even to this day, there is still no Constitution in Israel, yet they have the gall to call themselves a democracy.

    Jews can believe or practice whatever they want or run around naked for all I care, but if their Zionist beliefs (which have nothing to do with Judaism) are causing large scale atrocities like in the occupied territories, then I will get in their face and challenge them to prove that these obnoxious beliefs are part of Judaism or the definition of a Jew until they have no choice but to walk away like JSB did once he realized that there is no rational way to defeat my argument. Zionism, along with all racial interpretations of Judaism or who is a Jew, are completely irrational and anachronistic concepts. The scientific, historical and scriptural facts don’t lie.

    The key problem is that this disgusting ideology of Zionism has coupled itself to democracy, Judaism, and the definition of who is a Jew, so the only way to attack Zionism as an ideology without being perceived as attacking the three other noble concepts is to rationally disentangle these three from Zionism first. That is my singular objective and motive in this thread, and I will not stop in taking up this issue again in future threads until there is true democracy in Israel. I hope that makes my motive abundantly clear.

    With respect to the implication that I may be arguing “all Jews are Zionists”, I of course never made any such argument. I sincerely hope that this did not come across anywhere in my comments, since I don’t believe this at all. However, what I do believe is that a lot of Jews (and even the general population, as non-Jews) have a sugarcoated, nostalgic view of Zionism that they have assimilated via massive propaganda campaigns and even formal education. They need to wake up to the reality that Zionism persecutes, oppresses and kills, and it does so because it is a racist politically-motivated ideology. After all, if Zionism is not the explanation for the atrocities in the occupied territories, then what possibly is?

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Chameleon old chap , you know I respect your views but I do wonder if this time you are fighting the wrong fight.
    Two things
    Firstly I think the title of this article is a bit naughty and should have read ” zionists sponcer zionists” otherwise it just assumes all Jews are zionists and we both know that’s not true.
    Secondly we have both on this site had a go at loons trying to tell Muslims what their beliefs are and who is a Muslim What is the difference in trying to tell Jews what a Jew is ? I don’t claim any great knowledge I just accept if people tell me they are Muslim , Jewish that they are.

  • Sarka

    Well, if the two-state solution is dead, then why are you so interested in proving that the poor old Palestinians have had a national consciousness and desire for a separate specifically Palestinian (I mean Palestinian Arab, not Arab-Israeli, not greater Jordan, Syria or whatever) nation state of their own from point x or y?

    Without a two-state solution, they are not going to realise this goal! So it seems rather counter-intuitive that a person sympathetic to Palestinians should so disregard their nationality/wishes, and should seem to insist that they and the Israeli Jews live in a common state when a majority on either side clearly does not want this and, of course, the historical record of joint-ethnic states in which the ethnicities are rival/have serious issues – is not on the whole a happy and encouraging one.

    .Your “anti-apartheid” ref suggests you see SA as an ëncouraging” model here, Regardless of the moralising aspect, politically and demographically the comparison is not helpful regarding prospects. In SA the black population is just under 80%, the white population under ten percent, the so-called “coloured” plus Indian/Asian pop. just over ten percent – nor were a majority of blacks and whites in favour of having separate nation-state through some kind of partition and actually against living in a common state (which had no fundamental border issues!) The situation in Israel/Palestine is so radically different in all real ways that no llessons for it can be drawn from SA for any practical political purposes.

    Arguing over whether Israeli policies are or are not like SA former “apartheid” makes no difference to that.

  • Chameleon_X

    “I think we should be framing the struggle as pro-democracy and anti-apartheid, not as a struggle to redefine Judaism.”

    I agree, since that is also the only goal that really matters to me, but unfortunately all of these good and bad ideologies are wrapped up together in a bundle. That is what gives the bad ideologies their relentless strength. When Israel’s race-based “homeland for the Jews” is endorsed and lauded by the entire international community as a model of “democracy”, the Zionists have already framed any and all true pro-democracy struggles against Israel as being “anti-Semitic” and anti-Judaism. In other words, any struggle against apartheid/racism will itself be deemed racist, since the racism underlying that apartheid has already been endorsed as a true “democracy”. You can’t win in a struggle that has already been framed to artificially transform all of your efforts into the very evil you are fighting against!

    Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that, as part of any fight for democracy, you must try to force a decoupling of Zionism from democracy, since the two ideologies are completely incompatible. But, unfortunately, I don’t believe even that is enough. In order to do that, you must first isolate Zionism as the political movement that it truly is by decoupling it from the doctrine of Judaism, at least as a defining article of faith as some Jews wrongly portray it to be. Once Zionism is decoupled from Judaism, it becomes a very winnable fight to decouple it from democracy, since Zionism would be naked and feeble without the legitimacy of Judaism to cover it.

    Now if you reread any random selection of my comments in this thread, you should be able to see better how everything I wrote is with these objectives in mind — not some ultimate goal to redefine Judaism because I have nothing better to do with my time! I am very passionate about this, and my passion is driven by a deep frustration with the I/P conflict, not by a desire to debate the theology of Judaism. That said, I honestly stand behind all of my views on Judaism (i.e., as a noble religion that rejects all racist principles underlying the Zionism that persecutes and oppresses) until I am proven otherwise.

    My goals are fundamentally the same as yours. I just believe there is a different way to get there. I see all other routes as inevitable dead ends, since all pro-democracy effort directed against Israel simply gets reframed by Israel as anti-democracy effort before it can even have a chance to be taken seriously by the international community. In other words, it becomes a vicious cycle, where pro-democracy efforts against Israel are turned into ammunition against those efforts and to the advantage of Israel. This, in turn, leads to eruptions of terrorism, thereby “proving” to the international community that all those pro-democracy efforts were really about anti-Semitism and “existential threats” all along. And round and round we go.

    What I proposed as a solution before on LW, though not quite worded this way, is a pro-democracy effort FOR Israel — i.e., for Israel as a genuine democratic state for all its residents, including those in the occupied territories. This fits with your view to discard the obsolete notion of a two party state and to focus instead on the best one state solution possible. Non-Jewish residents of the occupied territories and Israel (including prominent Christians) should be organized to formally protest, picket, petition, etc. for a true democracy for everyone, stripped of Zionism and with a Constitution to protect the human rights of all minorities and individauls. In other words, since it is impossible and even masochistic to be “against” Israel, one must seek change by being “for” Israel — i.e., by adopting and then adapting Israel to the standard of a true democratic state.

  • Chameleon_X

    You are just parroting the points I already made. This group merely opposes the “forceful recapture of the Land of Israel” as their restricted definition of “Zionism”. They still believe in the core Zionist ideology of a land for the Jews. The only difference is in the timing. These fringe facts affect none of my arguments, but nice try at a diversion as you quietly exit the building.

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