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  • Writer's pictureDan Berger

How Jewish Philanthropy Has Failed Us Jews

During the weeks and months following the October 2023 holocaust in southern Israel, we learned that the world of nonprofit Jewish advocacy was sleeping at the wheel for at least a generation. Probably longer.

Since that wretched day antisemitic incidents increased somewhere between 360% [ADL] and 1,500% [StopAntisemitism.Org]. Oddly enough, despite these abysmal numbers, no Jewish advocacy leader has been fired from their job. In fact, most of them have doubled down on what they’ve been doing for decades: raising record money to roll out failed playbooks.

One notable example is the ADL. Before October 7th, the ADL was employing a strategy of fighting all forms of hate, not just antisemitism, it’s original raison d'etre. Their thesis was that supporting other marginalized groups would get Jews more allies. One such failure was their unequivocal support of the BLM movement (that I myself supported early on btw), which was one of the first movements to turn against the Jews and take an extreme antizionist stance. All of this being said, I was glad to see their leader, Jonathan Greenblatt, recommit to prioritizing the fight against antisemitism.

AIPAC is another example. The political behemoth has always had a policy of not taking sides when it comes to Israeli politics so that it stays neutral. This failed policy has allowed Netanyahu to not only remain in power (for 21% of Israel's existence) but also become complacent, causing his government to get blindsided by Hamas and ignore key readiness issues like the conscription of orthodox Jews to the IDF. Their hard-headed apolitical policy has caused more harm than good because when you don’t articulate boundaries questionable behavior escalates unchecked.

There are other major Jewish organizations that should be held accountable for the rampant antisemitism in schools and on campuses, for the large number of Jews disconnected from their faith and culture, for Israel’s current PR nightmare, and so on. 

These failures make it clear that there is an untouchable layer of Jewish philanthropic aristocrats that would rather maintain the status quo than decisively address this once-in-a-century wave of vicious antisemitism.

I started the Idaho Israel Alliance to fight antisemitism and antizionism in a state that has a Jewish population of less than 3,000. I did it not only for this tiny minority but also for most Idahoans who believe in Western and Judeo-Christian values. What I didn’t realize is that my team and I would be creating a new paradigm for doing this kind of advocacy on a shoestring budget from what most people think of as a flyover state.

As I reflect of over 180 days of this war, I'm realizing that a new generation of Jewish philanthropists needs to step up and begin to lead in novel ways.

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