Israel Resource Review 15th December, 2002


Shefa Fund Responds to Criticism
Jeffrey Dekro and Debbie Fleischaker
President and Chair, Shefa Fund

[Besides the invective in the enclosed response, Shefa Fund indeed acknowledges that it does fund the IDF deserter movements. Shefa tries to say that they are part of Israel's peace movement, without acknowledging that the mainstream Israeli peace groups have rejected the idea of deserting the IDF. Shefa tries to say that that the "Courage to Refuse" movement only works with reservists and not with IDF soldiers doing compulsory service. However, although "Courage to Refuse" was organized by IDF reservists, its target audience are indeed the new inductees. Witness the fact that "Courage to Refuse" is organizing a rally for young soliders who have deserted their units. That rally is scheduled for Thursday, December 19th, in Tel Aviv. - DB]

The Shefa Fund is a 15-year-old Jewish public foundation committed to Jewish values, including emphatic support for the State of Israel and the well-being of the Jewish people. Shefa is currently the target of an extremely inaccurate and highly inflammatory e-mail campaign that challenges our fundamental right to exist and specifically attacks our grantmaking to two Israeli peace organizations, Yesh G'vul and Courage to Refuse (CTR).

This e-mail attack began with public postings on the website of the far right settler movement's radio station, Arutz Sheva the same station that unconscionably fanned hatred of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the months before his assassination. David Bedein, a zealot who has a history of distorted "reporting" about pro-peace Jewish organizations, is urging his readers to "stop the Shefa Fund in its tracks" as "one practical way to help the state of Israel." Naomi Ragen, a journalist who was a self-confessed participant in building that hateful climate leading to Rabin's murder, has further circulated Bedein's poison and added her own slanders that we are"low-lifes" and should be "put out of business."

Bedein and Ragen falsely accuse us of encouraging desertion in the Israeli military and supporting "a political campaign" in a fashion that is illegitimate for non-profit organizations. As a result, The Shefa Fund has received more than 200 e-mails and many phone calls, with content ranging from hatred to support. Now we need to set the ecord straight, and defend our integrity and right to express our views.

The Shefa Fund operates three distinct but related programs to help American Jews and their institutions practice socially responsible tzedakah. Our grantmaking program promotes social justice, Middle East peace, and innovation in American Jewish life; our Tzedec program organizes loans fromJewish sources for low-income community development in the United States; our Torah of Money program educates individuals and institutions about money and Jewish values. We work in close collaboration with many Jewish institutions, including Federations and large Jewish foundations in many cities. In Israel, the majority of our grantmaking historically has supported acculturation for Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, and other community development.

In 2002, more than 800 individuals made contributions to Shefa specifically intended to support Middle East peace through the activities of Yesh G'vul and CTR. (No other contributions to The Shefa Fund were used to make these grants.) These contributors know Yesh G'vul as one of Israel's oldest peace organizations, founded in 1982 to oppose the invasion of Lebanon, and CTR as more recently organized by Israeli reserve officers, who are ready to defend Israel but are no longer willing to serve in the West Bank and Gaza. Both organizations educate the public about the rights and responsibilities of soldiers, and offer solidarity with those in the IDF who choose to express their conscience through selective refusal ofmilitary service.

Yesh G'vul and CTR conduct activities that are legal and widely reported, discussed and debated in the Israeli media. Both organizations share Shefa's fundamental concern for the security of Israel and its citizens. Contrary to Bedein and Ragen's claims, Yesh G'vul and CTR, as a matter of policy, do not distribute flyers on buses or at points where soldiers are returning from the front. CTR, in fact, works only with reservists, not with soldiers who are under compulsory service. These organizations do not encourage desertion, and do not pay anyone to recruit members or to refuse military service. Such charges are libelous, and both Yesh G'vul and CTR are contemplating libel suits against Bedein and Ragen.

Since Bedein and Ragen cannot add any substance to their "report," they simply resort to dehumanizing us as "despicable enemies of Israel" and "pro-terror." There seems to be no sense of boundary to their rage: They want to characterize all opposition to Israeli occupation policies as treason. And they know full well that in the communities they call home, such characterization constitutes an invitation to violence.

The American Jewish community must not permit this kind of intimidation and marginalization to take place. Israel itself tolerates an enormous range of debate over peace, war and occupation policies, despite the clear and present danger that hovers over the land every day. Here in the U.S., we should emulate our Israeli brethren, not breed senseless hatred that mocks Israel's and our own commitment to democracy and dialogue . . .

The Shefa Fund will not permit support for Israeli peace work to be portrayed as disloyal, nor allow our broad range of programs to be undermined by ugly rhetoric. We urge you to read Internet postings like those cited with a critical eye. Please contact Shefa directly if you have any concerns or would like more information about our work.

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An Open Letter to the Shefa Fund
Jack de Lowe

Dear Jeffrey Dekro & Debbie Fleischaker,

Do you think that your comments below are responsible ones? I quote: "the far right settler movement's radio station", "the same station that unconscionably fanned hatred of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the months before his assassination", "a zealot who has a history of distorted "reporting" about pro-peace Jewish organizations", "a journalist who was a self-confessed participant in building that hateful climate leading to Rabin's murder, has further circulated Bedein's poison and added her own slanders that we are "low-lifes" and should be "put out of business." Do you think that such defamatory statements should come from what you describe as a "Jewish Foundation committed to Jewish values." Even if everything you wrote was correct (it is not), why do you sink to such a low level? Frankly, I would not be surprised if one or more of the above parties end up suing you for defamation.

In addition, I note that you do not answer the original questions posed:

1. "you should direct your money towards the families of the Israelis who have been murdered or the many small business owners that have been devastated by the drop in tourism caused by the Oslo". Isn't this more important or at least as important as any of your current efforts?

2. You heap all the blame on Israel, but there is no mention about the more than $1 billion that Arafat has stolen from his own people which would have made a substantial difference in the lives of those he is supposed to 'represent.'

3. The majority of your support seems to be to organizations who take a negative view of everything that Israel does. Do you know that there are more Israelis over the age of reserve duty who are today doing reserve duty as volunteers than all the members of the two organizations which you support?

How do you explain Arafat's outright rejection of the Camp David proposals made by President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak? He did not even attempt to negotiate further concessions. Just a simple rejection.

I don't expect you to share this message with those 800 individuals who made contributions to your organization in the past, but you must understand that the majority of people in Israel would see your efforts as undermining the efforts of the State and have every right to encourage the public to refrain from supporting the Shefa Fund and those it supports.

There is certainly not a lack of good positive causes and organizations in Israel (taking care of handicapped children [Beit Issie Shapiro], helping sick people find the right medical treatment [Ezra LeMarpeh], helping victims of Arab terror, feeding the hungry in Israel [Hazon Yeshiya], helping Israeli businesses adversely affected by the current reign of terror, sending packages to Israeli soldiers [the Israeli soldiers fund], helping Israelis to defend themselves against terror, etc.). I notice that Federation is in the midst of supplying the Israel Civil Guard with new vehicles and communication equipment to help defend our civilians against further terror attacks. Are all of these efforts contrary to your program?

I know and understand that you have an agenda and a right to express your views, but it is contrary to what the vast majority of Israelis want and I would urge you to move to more positive efforts. Until I see actual evidence of this, I will encourage everyone I know not to support the Shefa Fund and to continue writing to you so that perhaps you will better understand that your current efforts are not helpful and are in fact the antithesis of what Israelis really want.

Jack de Lowe lives in Raanana, Israel

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"Promoting Middle East Peace and Justice"
Shefa Fund Peace Folio

Read the Shefa Fund Peace Folio: "Promoting Middle East Peace and Justice". It was published on their website at You can read it here. Close the window when you have finished to return to this point in the Israel Resource Review.

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Leaflet Distributed for IDF Deserter Rally: December 19, 2002

"Dear friend,

The following young Israelis are currently in jail for refusal to enlist in the army of occupation, and are being subjected to repeat sentences in a bid to break their spirits:

Yonathan Ben Artzi, 6th sentence, total of 161 days' jail;

Uri Yaakovi - 6th sentence, total: 133 days

Dror Boimel - 5th sentence, total: 119 days

Yoni Yehezkiel - 4th sentence, 98 days

Haggai Mattar - 3rd sentence, 84 days

Mattan Kaminer - 1st sentence, 28 days;

Noam Bahat - 1st sentence, 28 days;

Hillel Goral - 1st sentence, 28 days;

The following reservists are currently in jail for refusing to serve in the occupied territories:

Ido Harari - 2nd time, 28 days;

Hen Alon - 21 days;

M.G. - 21 days;

Eshel Herzog - 28 days;

Dror Luzatti - 18 days;

Uri Rotloi - 21 days;

Itzik Shabbat - 28 days;

Since the onset of the present intifada, 190 young Israelis have been jailed for refusing to take part in the campaign of repression against the Palestinian people.

Thursday December 19, at 8:00 p.m.,
Zavta (30, Ibn Gvirol Street)
Tel Aviv

Yesh Gvul and the High School Seniors ("Shministim") join in an evening of solidarity with the refuseniks.

The privilege of saying "NO!"

Please come along and your support for the refuseniks!

Peretz Kidron * Ram Rahat . . . "

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