American Jewry’s Dirty Little Secret

February 6, 2013 10:33 am 1 comment

TAGLIT-Birthright participants land in Israel. Photo: Birthright.

In nearly every American Jewish home, a tzedekah (charity) box is thought of as a given, an absolute certainty. With a lot of fanfare, world Jewry thankfully supports many important causes,  especially those connected to Israel in a major way. Billions of dollars are raised to support vital projects in the Jewish state. The dirty little secret which is rarely spoken about is that the small nation of Israel – and Israeli taxpayers – are funding American and international Jewish projects. But perhaps it’s time to re-examine priorities.

For example, this year marks the third year of increased funding by the Israeli government of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyhau pledged a total of $100 million from 2011-2013. While Birthright is undoubtedly a vital project which has had a tremendous impact on American Jewry and brought many young people closer to Israel, one wonders if it is the responsibility of Israeli tax payers to fund it.

Many Israeli youth the same age as these American Jews, which Birthright brings to Israel, travel the globe after their Army service – undoubtedly many of these young tax payers would prefer that their funds would pay for their own kids’ needs rather than for those of American Jewish kids, right? Last year Israel’s premier satirical television show, Eretz Nehederet (A Wonderful Country) ran segments mocking Taglit – one wonders how Israelis would feel if they knew their tax dollars were going to fund these initiatives?

The Jewish Agency for Israel, which receives funds from the Israeli government, also funds LAPID which brings 12,000 students to Israel annually for summer and school- year programs. Half of the funding for Masa Israel comes from the Israeli government, which takes thousands of Jewish youth from over 50 countries to Israel on semester-
and year-long programs in Israel. Important programs – but should taxpayers in Holon, Nazareth and the Golan pay for kids from Scarsdale, Miami and Skokie?

Perhaps to start, a wonderful gesture would be if wealthier Jews who make Aliya (move to Israel) declined to accept the wide range of financial benefits offered to those who make Aliya. Symbolically, as New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg accepts only a $1 annual salary, perhaps those who can afford it should refuse Aliya subsidies.

I spent a week in Israel recently visiting with friends and I noticed that so many Israelis in their 30s and 40s who can afford to live well in the Gush Dan (Greater Tel Aviv) area are increasingly working overseas. I have a close friend who travels to Cyprus Sunday-Tuesday every week to run his technology company and another friend who alternates weekly between Russia and Israel. Both of them have families but couldn’t afford the quality of life they are living if they didn’t work overseas. Both of them voted for Yair Lapid in this election. Lapid, the incoming Chairman of the Yesh Atid party succeeded in attracting Israeli voters en masse, in part, because of his pledge to tackle the high-cost of living in Israel.

Considering the situation on the ground in Israel, it seems “un-Zionist” for American Jews to accept Israeli tax payer money. While these projects are undoubtedly vital for the Jewish people, these programs should be privately funded completely.

In the year 2013, American Jewry shouldn’t need, want or accept Israeli financial support.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Firm.  He is also author of “For Immediate Release,” a best-selling book.

1 Comment

  • American Jewry should be funding Israel. My prayers have been that wealthy Jews in America would share their vast wealth to meet the needs of Jews in Israel. And there are Jews scattered around the world who need someone to help them come to their Promised Land. I give what I can with joy! I hope Mr. Zuckerberg will be led to help his fellow Jews.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.