L.A. Jewish Fund Refuses to Channel Donations to Anti-occupation Group

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles reportedly cites IfNotNow's 'hostility to established Jewish institutions.'

Members of IfNotNow march through the streets of Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016.
Members of IfNotNow march through the streets of Washington, D.C., April 19, 2016. Gili Getz

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (JCFLA), which manages over $1 billion in charitable funds and distributed about $100 million of that in 2015, has reportedly refused to disburse donor money to the anti-occupation Jewish group IfNotNow.

According to a JewishJournal.com report, the JCFLA's system of "donor advised funds" allows donors give money up front and get a full tax benefit immediately, while the JCFLA disburses the money in consultation with the donors over the years.

However, when Lisa and Joshua Greer set up such a fund five years ago, which has held up to $1 million, and directed their money in the past to progressive Jewish organizations such as the New Israel Fund, their $5,000 donation to IfNotNow was rejected by the JCFLA.

Lisa Greer reportedly claimsshe was told by the JCFLA in October they would not make the donation, and was told at a meeting with the JCFLA that the problem was not the organization's stand on Israel and the Palestinians, but its work against the "organized Jewish community" in America. IfNowNow has protested against major mainstream American-Jewish organization's stance on Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza.

The JCFLA confirmed Greer's comments to the Jewish Journal but added: “The Foundation was being asked to act as the vehicle to provide support for an organization that is hostile to established Jewish institutions, indirectly including The Foundation itself,” the statement read. “We concluded that such a course of action would directly conflict with our core values, requiring us to deny this recommendation,” reports the Jewish Journal.

In addition, the JCFLA said IfNotNow does not meet their transparency and disclosure standards, not has it disclosed the members of its board of directors or released its financial reports. Finally, while the donors have the right to make recommendations, the funds actually belong to the JCFLA after they are donated, and any such contribution would be made in its name.  

As Haaretz has reported, If Not Now's public profile climbed when its founder, Simone Zimmerman, was very publicly fired by United States presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who had hired her as his Jewish outreach coordinator, because of comments she made and when an old Facebook post in which she used profanity against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu surfaced.

IfNotNow was at the center of attention during the height of the Democratic primary season when founder Simone Zimmerman was hired as Bernie Sanders' Jewish outreach coordinator but fired over an old Facebook post where she used profanity against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They recently marched into the Washington D.C. building hosting Donald Trump's presidential transition team in protest of Steve Bannon's appointment as senior adviser.

Greer said she still hopes to be able to work with the JCFLA and is considering what to do with her fund.