More than 101 Shofars were blasted in unison protesting UJA/Federation’s support and inclusion of BDS groups, such as the New Israel Fund. Organizers and speakers led the Shofar blasts. Photo credit: Larry Domnitch
On Monday, May 11, 2015, a rally sponsored by several Jewish activist organizations was held in front of the UJA/Federation building in Manhattan, to protest the UJA’s sponsoring of organizations that boycott Israeli products. About 200 protesters carrying signs against the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement heard speakers calling for the UJA to immediately stop promoting the New Israel Fund (NIF) and to disallow the NIF from marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade.
Helen Friedman, Executive Director of Americans For A Safe Israel (AFSI) called for a movement “for everyone to close their wallets from the UJA” until UJA’s sponsorship of BDS groups is terminated.
The BDS movement was recently described by Justice Hanan Meltzer of the Israeli Supreme Court as “political terrorism,” clarifying that the State of Israel has a right to defend itself from them. The Court recently ruled that Israel’s Finance Minister can “impose fines and withhold funding from Israeli NGOs, calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel and the power to file lawsuits against those NGOs.”
The position of the NIF can be clearly seen in their recent opposition to the ruling. As the High Court was considering their decision against BDS, the petitioners in court who sought permission of boycotts of Israel were the NIF-sponsored organizations, including Gush Shalom, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
The New Israel Fund (NIF) finances organizations that promote BDS against Israel. Five NIF grantees signed a letter to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund urging them to divest from Israel: Machsom Watch, Coalition of Women for Peace, Women Against Violence, Social TV and Mossaw.
Richard Allen, founder of JCCWatch.org, one of the main organizers of the rally declared, “We call on the UJA-Federation to stop their promotion and support for groups that call for a boycott of Israeli companies Iike SodaStream and Ahava Cosmetics. The President of the UJA-Federation, Alisa Doctoroff, is a major funder of the New Israel Fund, a group that finances the BDS movement against Israel on a worldwide basis.” He added “The UJA protects and promotes the BDS groups in the Israel Day Parade, and we INSIST this be stopped IMMEDIATELY.” Rabbi David Algaze, of Havurat Yisrael of Forest Hills stated “Communal charitable funds should not be used to promote political agendas.” Dr. Paul Brody, VP of the Great Neck-based Jewish Political Education Fund, declared that “One is allowed, even obligated, to decry a bad “shidduch” (match) between two parties. The UJA/Federation is a VERY BAD shidduch with BDS groups and must be stopped now. Interestingly, both Dr. Brody and Rabbi Algaze mentioned the need to turn BDS into BS”D -B’Siyata D’shmaya – i.e., only with the help of G-d, can we defeat the BDS movement.
The rally was organized by the Hear O’Israel Coalition consisting of theJCC Watch, AFSI, ZOA, JPEF, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), the International Committee for the Land of Israel, Jewish Action Alliance, the National Conference on Jewish Affairs, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, and others.
101 Shofars were sounded in order to awaken UJA/Federation to open their hearts and minds and to stop their tacit boycott of the State of Israel.
Inspirational speakers at the Rally included Morton Klein, President of the ZOA, Richard Allen, Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Cong. Ohab Zedek, Rabbi David Algaze, Helen Freedman, Dr. Paul Brody and Lauri Regan.