JCF establishes $25,000 grant for Israeli terror victims

espite hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails and full-page newspaper ads, the Committee for Jewish Concerns was not going to convince the S.F.-based JCF to drop its multimillion-dollar investment in Israeli Arabs.

And the Jewish Community Federation was not going to convince the Russian-speaking emigre group that lending a helping hand to Israel's Arabic minority is the way to go.

But, following a meeting last month, the two groups did agree on one thing. The federation took the CJC's suggestion of establishing a grant to aid Israeli terror victims to heart, and last month started one.

John Goldman, the JCF's president, said the creation of the grant "is what community participation is all about. Having a dialogue and clearly being able to discuss issues, face to face, is what we all want to do. This was a constructive way to approach issues and to see each others' different viewpoints, and understand those viewpoints."

The federation's Israel and overseas committee has yet to determine which organization or organizations the $25,000 grant should be awarded to.

Regarding the grant's monetary amount, Goldman points out that "every allocation or grant made from the federation normally starts out small, and, depending on the need, is re-evaluated and looked at freshly every year."

Since terrorism is on the rise, the funds could be augmented, though Goldman, naturally, hopes there isn't a need for that.

"I hope the need is not there. My personal viewpoint is, I hope we don't have to spend a dime; that'd mean there'd be no terror," he said. "But if the need is there, I'm sure we'll look at it again."

Greg Kosinovsky, the CJC's spokesman, applauded the federation's latest move.

"I'm very pleased they did that. Certainly this is a very worthy cause and I'm glad," said the Sunnyvale resident, who emigrated from Belarus more than 20 years ago. "This is definitely the most positive thing that came out of our campaign, so I'm very pleased about it."

Kosinovsky, of course, wouldn't have minded seeing a larger grant, but he wasn't exactly ready to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"I would like to see the entire amount [earmarked for Israeli Arabs] go to the causes we were advocating. That would definitely be my preference, but $25,000 is much better than zero," he said.

"I think this is very positive, and we will express that to the federation. But I don't think this is the end of our dialogue by any means. The most recent developments, I think, underscore our position that money should go to Jews and not those hostile to Jews. And we will continue to press that point to the federation and members of the Bay Area Jewish community. But we do understand this is a positive development."

The Committee for Jewish Concerns first popped up in November of last year, when hundreds and hundreds of e-mails entitled "Do you want your money to go to Arabs? If NO, please read," bombarded the computer inboxes of Bay Area Jews.

Following a February meeting with federation representatives, the CJC released another mass e-mail and purchased a full-page ad in the Bulletin.

In response to the e-mails and ad, Goldman penned a letter to donors, and supporters of the federation's position backed up their view on funding Israeli Arab projects with editorials in the Bulletin.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.