Diaspora fundraising arm says no funds to Judea and Samaria for ‘practical’ reasons

Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal forces every group that wants to receive monetary aid to sign a pledge that it won’t engage in activity past the 1967 Green Line.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The official international fundraising organization for Israel does not allow its funds to be used in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, Israel Hayom reported Sunday.

Any Israeli group that receives monetary aid from Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal must sign a pledge stating, “We are not involved and / or engaged, in any way, in activities beyond the borders of the State of Israel as they were before 04.06.1967. And we hereby commit not to engage is such activity using funds from the donation.”

Keren Hayesod says that this condition is necessary for practical, not ideological, reasons.

“Keren Hayesod raises hundreds of millions of dollars all over the world,” the organization said in a statement. “The donations are obtained from independent fundraisers that are legally registered in the various countries. Unfortunately, the existing tax laws in these countries do not allow tax credits for donations beyond the Green Line.

“Of course this is not the policy or ideology of Keren Hayesod, but a matter of international laws that cannot be changed by the organization, and that our donors are subject to.”

Keren Hayesod is under the aegis of the World Zionist Organization, whose policies are decided by the World Zionist Congress (WZC). The WZC is currently holding elections that will affect the management of all of Israel’s national institutions – including Keren Hayesod — over the next five years. Its 525 delegates represent the entire political and religious spectrum of the Zionist movement.

About 38 percent of the delegates are from Israel, in slates that are proportionate to the number of mandates each Zionist party received in the last Knesset elections. The Likud’s Central Committee members are voting Sunday on its party’s representatives to the body that effectively controls how $5 billion is distributed to various cultural, educational, religious and social bodies in Israel.

Coalition chief MK Miki Zohar, who is heading one of the party’s three vying slates, said that this limitation was unacceptable.

“If there was a good reason why I’m running for office, this is it. It is inconceivable that Zionist and national institutions will not recognize Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights as part of Israel. This is a complete contradiction to the fulfillment of the Zionist dream of setting the Land of Israel,” he said, and vowed, “I will work to change this.”

Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal fundraises for Israel in some 45 countries outside of North America. It is one of three so-called “National Institutions” that makes it a quasi-governmental organization.

Established in 1920 to raise money to establish Jewish settlements throughout then-Mandate Palestine, it has supported all the immigration waves to Israel, from Holocaust survivors in the 1940s and Arab countries in the 1950s, to the Russian and Ethiopian waves in the 1990s and on.

Two other major areas of activity are the strengthening of disadvantaged populations through educational and social aid programs, and encouraging a deeper Diaspora-Israel connection via cultural and educational programming overseas and by working with other organizations to help fund trips to Israel such as Birthright and Masa.

The 38th World Zionist Congress is currently scheduled to meet in Jerusalem in October.