Group 'Judaizing' East Jerusalem Accused of Withholding Donation Sources

Meron Rapoport
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Meron Rapoport

The registrar of associations is considering demanding the dissolution of the Elad association, which promotes the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem. The registrar claims the association is refusing to divulge the sources of donations totaling over $7 million that Elad received in 2005. Elad representatives claim that all they know about the bodies that donated funds is their addresses, and that the association is not obligated to provide any additional information about its donors.

Elad has been operating in East Jerusalem for about 20 years. It has acquired and received many properties belonging to Palestinians in Kfar Silwan, adjacent to the Old City, and manages the national park in the City of David on behalf of the state. In recent years, the association has invested many millions to finance the archaeological excavations undertaken by the Antiquities Authority in Silwan. Palestinians in Silwan contend that Elad has "taken over" substantial sections of the village.

Elad had revenues totaling NIS 41 million in 2005 - the last year it reported its figures to the registrar of associations. Of this sum, NIS 38 million came from donations. The association gave the registrar a list of all the donors who had given more than NIS 20,000, in keeping with the recently amended law designed to make donations more transparent.

According to the list, however, the lion's share of the donations came from five undisclosed donors. Elad received a donation of $2 million from Farleigh International IT and a similar sum from Ovington World Wide Limited. Leiston Holdings donated $1.5 million to Elad, Dwide Limited gave the association $1.4 million, and a donation of $250,000 was received from Jacobson. This means that a total of over $7.1 million, or 75 percent, of Elad's revenues came from unknown sources.

Farleigh International is the former name of Farleigh Consultants, a British investigations firm. This company's manager, David Bowen, told Haaretz he is unfamiliar with Elad and his company did not donate any funds to the association.

Attempts to locate the other four donors were unsuccessful.

According to government sources, businessmen originally from Russia are among the main donors to Elad. It is also worth noting that at an event held by Elad two years ago, in honor of its new visitors center in the City of David, the guests of honor included Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich, the owner of the Chelsea soccer club. Representatives of the two would not say whether they made donations to Elad.

Despite a number of requests to the association concerning the identity of its donors, Elad has continued to refuse and did not even submit a request to preserve their confidentiality, as permitted by law. As a result, about two weeks ago the registrar of associations announced that this refusal was "liable to arouse a suspicion that the association is not conducting itself in keeping with the Associations Law and the principles of proper management, and could be used as a basis for the registrar to exercise his discretion and withdraw the association's proper management certification or even to demand its dissolution." Such a move would prevent Elad from receiving government budgeting.

Following Haaretz's queries, Elad responded in writing that according to the law, the association was obligated to provide only the name of donor and the date a donation was received.

"The demands made by the registrar of associations are invalid, made without authorization," followed Elad's written response, which also declared that the association has no other details concerning the donors that gave the $7 million, "apart from their addresses." Elad further claimed that Haaretz's communication to the registrar of associations is "part of a smear campaign that has chosen to use the registrar of associations as a tool to harm the association."

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