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Friday, May 26, 2006

US Jewish Federations Refuse to Help Revenants

New York Nana sent me this story from WorldNetDaily.com, which discusses the refusal of the Jewish federations in the United States to help the Jewish refugees from Gush Katif. Leaders from Gush Katif have said that said a series of direct petitions to significant U.S. Jewish organizations in recent months have been fruitless. They outlined a "humanitarian crisis" among the expellees.
"With few exceptions, we have received almost no help from the mainstream Jewish American groups, which grant billions of dollars" said Dror Vanunu, a former Gaza resident and the international coordinator for the Gush Katif Committee, a major charity organization representing the Gaza Jewish refugees.
The Israeli government doesn't want you to know it, but the situation of the Gush Katif refugees is quite desparate:
A status report released last week by the Gush Katif Committee found only 58 percent of expelled Gaza Jews were granted compensation for their homes guaranteed by the Israeli government. Only 26 percent of businessmen received housing compensation, and among farmers, only 5 percent.

The Israeli government pledged it would provide temporary housing solutions for all expelled Gush Katif residents. But 200 of the approximately 1,750 former Gush Katif families are living in university dormitories, motels and guest houses. Most families now reside in the Israeli Negev desert in small-government-built prefabricated "trailer villas." Residents there live mostly in crowded conditions, in many cases lacking enough bedroom space to accommodate their families.

"You can punch through my wall," a resident of Nitzan, the largest Gush Katif trailer community, told WND. "My friends come to visit me in coffee shops because there is not enough room in my living room for them to be comfortable."

Several residents said electricity and running water in their trailer communities is sparse.

Prior to their evacuation from Gaza, the vast majority of Gush Katif residents lived in large homes in landscaped communities. Many were farmers, tending to the area's famous, technologically advanced greenhouses that supplied Israel with much of its produce. The Gush Katif unemployment rate was less than 1 percent.

Now, 50 percent of Gaza's Jewish refugees are unemployed, and only 21 percent of former Gush Katif businesses have re-opened.
But to those who are long-time observers it should come as no surprise that the 'established' Jewish community is treating Gush Katif's refugees as second-class citizens. It's a tradition among the Jewish federations in the United States.

Until June 2002, the Jewish federations in the United States had a policy that no money was spent in Judea, Samaria, Gaza or 'East Jerusalem.' Not for Jews, anyway.

One Jewish federation trustee has had the courage to resign over the failure to assist Gush Katif's Jews. Although I don't know him, I am pleased to tell you that he was a trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Clifton-Passaic, New Jersey. I lived in Passaic from 1983-91 and that's why I'm proud to tell you about Buddy Macy:

The UJC reportedly raised over $850 million last year. It is known to set the tone for thousands of Jewish charity organizations nationwide.

Macy told WND he quit his position after more than 25 years of service to protest the UJC's refusal to initiate a campaign fund to help the Gaza Jewish refugees.

"There are thousands of Jews in dire need and the UJC and other mainstream groups with huge endowments are deliberately ignoring the crisis. The situation is absolutely unacceptable," Macy said.

In an e-mail to UJC President Howard Rieger that has been widely circulated among Jewish circles on the Internet, Macy called the UJC leadership "heartless with regard to the Jews who live and lived in Judea, Samaria and Gaza."

In an e-mail reply also widely circulated after it was posted by Macy, Rieger retorted, "I am not heartless. Read many of the comments which I have made publically [sic] on this subject. On the impact that dislocation has on individuals. And I have visited many of those who are now living in the Sinai and feel genuine concern for their plight."

Former Gaza Jewish residents do not live in the Sinai, which is located in Egypt.

Rieger in the e-mail went on to blame the Gaza Jewish refugees for their current situation:

"I do believe that in the end that the priority must be the rule of law," he said. "That many of those who found themselves without assistance after having to be uprooted also refused to engage with the system which was offering compensation."

The vast majority – 1,450 of Katif's 1,800 families – did not apply for government compensation ahead of Israel's August evacuation deadline, some stating they feared if the withdrawal were allowed to be implemented in Gaza, it would lead to other evacuations in Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem.

After the Gaza withdrawal, the Israeli government reoffered aid packages and said all residents would be fully compensated.

Almost all Gush Katif families applied.


Macy listed other major Jewish American leaders he charged have been refusing to aid Gush Katif expellees, including Israel Policy Forum President Seymour Reich, World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman, Anti-Defamation League Director Abe Foxman and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

While the situation regarding expelled Gush Katif residents has been publicly looming, Macy points out Jewish leaders Hoenlein and Foxman recently initiated a large charity effort to aid Israeli Arabs.

Macy also cited private Jewish philanthropists who provide large sums to mainstream organizations, including American Jewish magnates Ron Lauder, S. Daniel Abraham, Sam Halpern, Joseph Wilf, Charles Bronfman, and Matthew Bronfman, for helping set the tone for the Jewish groups. The philanthropists have been aiding efforts to build the Israeli Negev desert. Macy stated the individuals are closely linked to Israel's economy and to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is looking to push through a withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria, which is expected to bring an influx of new residents to the Negev.
There's much more to the WorldNetDaily article. Read the whole thing, and if any of you have any influence, please use it.


At 6:37 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...


I am still furious, and feel that Israel has been betrayed by the American Jewish community. At least the Toronto community still has their priorities straight.

Since we stopped supporting Federation over 20 years ago, and prefer Israeli charities, all we can do is make a lot of noise next week..Memorial Day weekend has started here already. Dror Vananu, I hope, will come here and speak to Jewish groups, to awaken them to the real situation.

There is so little info here re the plight of the expelled Jews from their homes and communities in Israel..a lot of people picture them in lovely new homes, etc.,living in luxury, and the Jewish organizations are so quiet. Only by reading Arutz Sheva, and having friends in Israel apprises American Jewry of what has happened. Joseph Farrah and WND are an excellent source of info, but this is available only on the intenet.

And now Olmert plans to expel so many more? I never thought I would live to see this happen, never.That Jerusalem seems to be on the table?

I would also direct people to read and re-read your post on elephant in the living room....


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