December 12, 2023

A Few Quick Updates

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

I was really proud to see that Students for “Justice in Palestine” was just suspended from our state university, Rutgers. The administration said that this vile group of antisemites and Israel-haters was suspended “based on multiple complaints against the organization that allege the group, on multiple occasions, has disrupted classes, a program, meals and students studying.” I give credit to Rutgers University and to its President for taking this step. It’s the right thing to do. I’m also grateful for all those community members, allies, neighbors, and decent citizens who wrote in to President Holloway and expressed their deep concern at the rising hate in our state university. I’m particularly thankful for the efforts of our Jewish Community Relations Council and its Director, Linda Scherzer, who worked hard on confronting the administration and pressuring it to do the right thing.

There is much more to do here. But this is a good step in the right direction.

I’m also proud to tell you that our Jewish Federations have raised more than $710 million toward the Israel Emergency Fund, of which more than a third has already been allocated, including toward a new loan fund that is meant to help Israeli small businesses rocked by the ongoing war with Hamas. As of last week, we’ve allocated $242.5 million, with roughly a fifth — $47.6 million — going to the Jewish Agency for Israel and $29.2 million going to Israeli frontline communities. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has so far received $13.1 million; the one-time protest movement, now volunteering organizer Brothers and Sisters for Israel, has received $5.8 million; and the Israel Trauma Coalition has received $5.5 million. In its most recent round of allocations, the oversight committee set aside $25 million to establish the Israel Emergency Loan Fund, through current partnerships. The fund will address Israel’s large-scale impending economic crisis stemming from the critical liquidity issues faced by tens of thousands of businesses amid the war.

A new poll by The Wall Street Journal found that the majority of Americans, 55%, support Israel’s war against Hamas, while 25% of respondents said Israel’s military actions are disproportionate and go too far.

Finally, read this excellent presentation by my colleague Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of our national Jewish federation system, at the City Club of Cleveland, a local debate forum, in which he recounted specific atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7, defended Israel’s military campaign against the terror group in Gaza and described the fears felt by Jewish Americans. Well worth your time.