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Letter to the Editor

A response to T’ruah director

Jill Jacobs (no relation), executive director of T’ruah, recently wrote an op-ed in The Chronicle entitled “Anti BDS law can’t be pro-Israel if it tramples on free speech” (June 30).

This made no apparent sense, as the executive order to which Jacobs referred, passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, turned the tables on the boycotters, by letting them know they could not boycott Israel and then do business with the state of New York. They remained free to espouse any political viewpoint they wished.

What is T’ruah, and how did they arrive at their “tough love” view of Israel? A cursory investigation shows that they are a splinter non-governmental organization (NGO) from the NGO called “Rabbis for Human Rights,” which, like many liberal NGO’s that operate in Israel, exclusively focus on supposed Israeli misdeeds. At times, their members have sponsored the Rachel Corrie Foundation, supported the Goldstone report even after it was discredited, encouraged churches to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel and called on the president to take a “cautious stance” on Hamas. Their views are so one sided as to be farcical. However, that fails to tell the tale of who they are and why they do what they do.

Edwin Black, investigative author, published “Financing the Flames: how tax exempt and public money fuel a culture of confrontation and terror in Israel.” Black uses a Watergate motif to explain these NGO’s, encouraging “following the money.” He exposes how the Ford Israel Fund and the New Israel Fund each spawned a series of independent NGO’s like T’ruah that are largely funded by anti-Semitic European institutions.

Indeed, T’ruah for the past four years has received almost half its money from European governments and churches in England, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, the European Union, Spain and in an interesting twist, the United States State Department. Only 11 percent of its donations are from Jewish groups. Historically, Europeans bash Israel for any number of reasons but generally not for Israel’s ultimate interest.  

I support Jacobs’ right to free speech, including publishing in The Chronicle, however, with the asterisk that the story include transparency.

However, transparency is the rub that bothers Jacobs. Cuomo’s order involves shining a flashlight on the boycotters and divestment advocates so that Israel can know who her opponents are. Jacobs would rather destroy the flashlight than to stand up to and to expose the boycott and divest bullies.