Friday, September 25, 2009

Federation Statement and Response via Open Letter

The Federation Statement (a response to the recent video)

For a century, the Federation has worked diligently as the face of collective Jewish philanthropy. As ever, the abiding mission of the Federation remains a positive and hopeful one: to aid the poor, the hungry, the infirm – and to build and strengthen Jewish education, culture and identity here at home and in Israel. To that end, the Federation has supported the Film Festival for 25 years. The Federation objected to the recent Film Festival event that featured Rachel Corrie’s mother as a speaker. The Federation expects its grantees to exercise responsibility and respect with regard to sensitive program choices. We have communicated these concerns to the Film Festival, and expect that they will take them seriously and respond accordingly.

We are many communities with diverse opinions, but we are one people. Rancor and vitriol cast a dark shadow on our commonalities, including our support of Israel. The Federation does not support boycott, divestment, sanctions or delegitimization of Israel. On the contrary, the Federation grants more than $10 million annually to projects designed to strengthen Israel.

Our core beliefs are anchored by a moral obligation to repair the world; toward that great and just end, as we prepare for Yom Kippur, let us begin to repair the breach in our own community and return the community’s attention to our vital work of tzedakah and tikkun olam.


An Open Letter to Federation
regarding problems with the statement

Dear Ms Gorowitz;

I have read the statement from the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, and find myself displeased with what is not said, and the unfortunate tone of moral equivalence

While the statement is clear that the Federation does not support boycott, divestment, sanctions or delegitimization of Israel, it makes no mention that the co-presenters of films shown by the SFJFF, such as Rachel and Defamation, do support these measures designed to undermine and destroy the Jewish state. .

You refer to such groups as having “diverse opinions”, as if this is simply a friendly disagreement within the family. In fact, some positions are simply “outside the tent”. Do you really believe that there are no red lines that should not be crossed?

One example; The Jewish Voice for Peace, (JVP), which was a co-presenter of Rachel, is not a supporter of Israel by any criteria.

The JVP lobbies for elimination of US aid to Israel

The JVP demonstrates at anti-Israel events, often with signs that say “Kill the Jews”.

The JVP is the Jewish arm of ISM, a radical, anti-Israel organization that recruits westerners to travel to Israel to obstruct Israeli security operations, and justifies Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians

The JVP believes that the occupation of Arab lands applies to all of Israel

The JVP believes that any attempt by Israel to defend itself is simply a perpetuation of an unjust occupation

The JVP believes that the only obstacle to peace is Israel

Your statement supports the false belief that all those who debate these issues have “commonalities” including support for Israel. The commonalities to which you refer simply do not exist, and it is time to stop trying to fit this into a neat gumbuya/we are all one formulation.

Further, the “rancor and vitriol” to which you refer is a direct consequence of the support and legitimacy given to the SFJFF by not declaring clearly that you will not support financially or in any other way groups that demonize Israel and work against the survival of the Jewish state.

It is time for the Federation to cease and desist from giving any kind of legitimacy to those whose goal is the destruction of the Jewish state. Organizations such as ISM and JVP must be held accountable, not subsumed under the rubric of “commonalities”

JVP (and other organizations that the film festival courts and collaborates with) is not a part of our “one community”. It is, in fact, a disgrace to our community, and this needs to be made clear in a forthright manner. And lest you believe that you need to be diplomatic to avoid antagonizing your donors, I can assure you that JVP acolytes will not be among the donors to Federation.

Your challenge now is to do those things required to prevent losing a large segment of the pro-Israel community from your donor rolls. Many Jews, unhappy with your actions regarding the SFJFF, have already decided to earmark their contributions and give directly to selected organizations outside of the Federation banner.

You certainly are aware of the problem. By now, you know that the Jewish Film Festival expects that your objections regarding the Cindy Corrie invitation are meaningless; they will do as they wish. It is time for Federation to make a simple declaration that you will not support, financially or otherwise, any individual, organization or event that supports boycott, divestment, sanctions or delegitimization of Israel.

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