Friday, February 19, 2010

San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Sets Policy to Prevent Funding Anti-Israel Programs

Almost seven months after the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's ill-advised hosting of Cindy Corrie, in collaboration with Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco has formally responded with a policy statement regarding Israel-related programs by its grantees. While it took a while, this policy certainly appears to meet the needs of the community: preventing misuse of Jewish community funds in supporting anti-Israel groups or presenting anti-Israel events.

The policy states:
"The JCF does not fund organizations that through their mission, activities or partnerships

1. endorse or promote anti-Semitism, other forms of bigotry, violence or other extremist views;

2. actively seek to proselytize Jews away from Judaism; or

3. advocate for, or endorse, undermining the legitimacy of Israel as a secure independent, democratic Jewish state, including through participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in whole or in part."

Not only does this policy apply to the Federation's grantmaking process, but it will also apply to directed donations through its Endowment Fund.

The policy statement goes on to note programs that would not be consistent with this policy:

"1. Panel discussions, speakers series, cultural, artistic or educational programs that as an overall experience – i.e. based on the entire body of work – endorse or prominently promote the BDS movement or positions that undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel

2. Individual programs that endorse the BDS movement or positions that undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel

3. Co-sponsorship or co-presentations of public programs on Middle East issues with supporters of the BDS movement or others who undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel."

And, in case there was any doubt about it, Federation Acting CEO Jennifer Gorovitz stated in her introductory e-mail about the policies "Had the policy been in effect prior to the event accompanying the screening of the movie "Rachel," we believe these guideposts would have made clear that such an event and co-sponsorships fall outside the bounds of the JCF's funding."

The key step will be enforcing this policy and not overlooking violations. Of course, Jewish Voice for Peace will claim that they don't undermine the legitimacy of the state of Israel. We've refuted that assertion so many times that their leaders are either frankly delusional if they still believe it, or staggeringly arrogant if they think anybody else will.

This should become a model for other Jewish community organizations to prevent the undermining of their mission by anti-Israel activists. In particular, Hillel should examine the behavior of their own individual campus organizations through the lens of this policy. UC Berkeley Hillel, as a grantee of the Federation, will have to comply with it; perhaps this will finally bring about the long-overdue end to the subversion of that institution by members of Students for Justice in Palestine.


  1. This community seems to present their concern in a more tangible manner. This can be a good means so long as it is for the promotion of the common good.

  2. Every fire begins with a spark. Now a Jewish Community based charity in the Northeast is being forced to re-examine its policies.

    Its about time!