Are Jewish Community Centers the New Battleground Over Israel's Legitimacy?

Right-wingers are calling for donations to be withheld from organizations that hold arts events which are, in their view, not nationalist enough.

Nathan Guttman
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Nathan Guttman

Jewish Community Centers, known for their fitness facilities and child care services, are increasingly becoming the target of protesters taking issue with the artistic programs they offer.

In Washington, a new grassroots organization is calling on the local federation to adopt guidelines that will withhold funding from the JCC if the centers theater puts on plays that denigrate Israel and undermine its legitimacy. In New York City, a group called JCCWatch is taking aim at the JCC in Manhattan for partnering with such groups as the New Israel Fund, BTselem and Human Rights Watch in supporting the Other Israel Film Festival.

Protest against the New Israel Fund, Tel Aviv, July 16, 2010.Credit: Alon Ron

In the middle of this fight stand the Jewish federations, the communitys philanthropic backbone, torn between their wish to maintain the artistic freedom of the communitys beneficiary agencies and their need to satisfy angry donors who control the purse strings.

Read the rest of this article at The Forward.

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