Groups strike back against criticism in pro-Israel group’s ad


(JTA) — Several Jewish federations and groups cited in an ad in The New York Times are striking back against the harsh criticism by the Emergency Committee for Israel.

The right-wing pro-Israel group called on Jewish charitable foundations to stop funneling money to two liberal groups that have offered criticisms of Israel. The full-page ad in The New York Times March 1 highlights criticism by Jewish groups and opinion shapers of the Center for American Progress think tank and Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog.

The ad lists the phone numbers of Jewish foundations and federations that have funneled donor-advised funds to the groups.

The American Jewish Committee said in a statement that the committee did not seek AJC’s consent to be included in the ad. While AJC admitted to publicly criticizing the Center for American Progress, it called its inclusion in the ad a "blatant attempt to use a specific quote in a particular context to advance a broader political agenda."

The Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Abraham Foxman echoed the AJC’s statement in a phone call to JTA, saying the ADL quote published in the ad was made before CAP addressed the issues of bias against Israel in several of its media products and instituted procedures to safeguard against its recurrence.  

Alan Dershowitz told the Forward that he was not consulted before his name and quotes attributed to him were used in the ad, of which he disapproves.

The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties said in a statement that it was "outraged" by the "attack" from the Emergency Committee for Israel. It said the grants given to the Center for American Progress and Media Matters came from the Donor Advised Funds program, in which the individual donors identify where their money will go.

A grant from the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland to Media Matters also went through a donor-advised philanthropic fund, the federation’s board chair, Michael Siegal, told the Cleveland Jewish News.

"It’s a paid advertisement that a political organization chose to run in an atmosphere of divisive politics,” Siegal told the newspaper. “We know [the Emergency Committee for Israel] didn’t contact us for context before this advertisement was published. We think it’s divisive and not at all a reflection of reality.”

The practice among federations and foundations of acceding to donor requests to transfer trust money to an array of groups is commonplace. Jewish foundations in general agree to transfers to all but the most extreme groups, as well as groups that seek to convert Jews to Christianity.

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