July 20, 2024
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Edwin Black U4U Talk Outs Terror Funders; Brings Jewish Bergen Community Together

Englewood—”Palestinian villagers who choose to plot terror against the state of Israel and its citizens immediately go on a PLO salary and receive a government ranking. That salary goes up by the number of people you kill.” So said NY Times best-selling author Edwin Black to a stunned crowd at Englewood’s Congregation Ahavath Torah. “We are actually paying for terrorism.” Black methodically maps out how he traced the trail of money that is fueling terrorism against Israel and its citizens. “American taxpayer money intended to finance the peace process is doing the opposite. It’s not just BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) it’s a terror industry.”

Black says Palestinian terror prisoners sitting in jail can earn anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand per month calculated on the number of people they killed and the length of their sentence. “The human rights movement has been hijacked by politicized individuals as a cover to advance a war-like campaign to destabilize and nullify the state of Israel.”

In his introduction, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah, emphatically stated, “We are not facing a new threat. This is the same threat just different words. The BDS movement is just the tip of the iceberg, what is really being attempted here is the delegitimizing of the state of Israel and its fundamental right to exist.”

In a dramatic flourish, Black pulled documents from his jacket pocket, reading several examples directly from financial papers including the tax year, amount and non-profit recipient organization to emphasize and drive home his claims that U.S. taxpayer money channeled specifically through the New Israel Fund is the root of much of the revenue that pays for terrorism.

“It’s your money.” Black claimed repeatedly throughout the evening. He further explained that many of the charitable organizations funded by the New Israel Fund, which is comprised of the best and the brightest of the Jewish world, is funding about 800 organizations or NGO’s. “Many of them are doing very laudable work,” he said. But Black and his investigative team uncovered scores of organizations that are not. In his new book, Fanning The Flames, Black outs the sinister strategic plot to erase Israel and Jewish identity from the map by using millions American taxpayer dollars.

The evening was co-sponsored by Unite4Unity (U4U) and 14 area Jewish organizations, including Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Bnei Yeshurun, The Glen Rock Jewish Center, Temple Avodat Shalom, Congregation Ahavath Torah, East Hill Synagogue, Temple Beth Rishon, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and The Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Politics and others. U4U is a newly established community organization that seeks to create dynamic social programming for interaction, learning, and growth across affiliation to encourage provocative conversations and create opportunities to build such relationships.

The group was founded by three Berrie Leadership Fellows—Lee Lasher, president of Englewood’s Orthodox Congregation Ahavath Torah, host of the event; Ian Zimmerman immediate-past president of Temple Beth Rishon, an unaffiliated shul in Fairlawn, and Ari Hirt. While U4U was initiated as a Berrie Fellows’ project, it has now taken firm hold of this trio, who expressed their hope to advance their reach and serve as catalysts to bridge chasms in the Jewish community. “We’re all Jewish, we all care about Israel,” says Zimmerman.

“One great thing about the (Berrie) program was that we sat around for hours meeting every few weeks. We studied texts together; we were trained by great leadership scholars and professionals, we got to spend a lot of time with one another and we got to know each other. And we became friends and developed a respect for one another.” added Lasher. The first event they coordinated brought Conservative, Reform and Orthodox rabbis together from the affiliate-defined rabbinic boards. “We didn’t feel there was enough opportunity for the different denominations to interact and socialize. We looked first at the denominationally separated rabbinic boards. We wanted to break down those walls, and did so by increasing the conversation we felt we could increase the tolerance.” Lasher said.

Looking around at the milling crowd at the beginning of their second U4U event they were pleased “It’s a diverse crowd, comprised of congregants from various denominations.This is rare this is good,” said both U4U founders Zimmerman and Lasher.

“If you make people aware, how can they in good faith not respond?” says audience member Laura Fein, Executive Director N.J. of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

U4U’s efforts paid off as audience members sat rapt, while Edwin Black debunked the Palestinian claims that Israel is the international criminal. “What law is being violated?” Black asked the crowd, as he passionately waved copies of UN Article 12 and Articles of the Geneva Convention over his head. He challenged those listening online (the event was live-streamed on the net) the diverse audience to look up the laws and see for themselves.

Gail S. Bindleglass, Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), guides dialogue between eight interfaith groups as part of her job. When asked what else can we do beyond building awareness, she replied, “We have to increase the conversation to go forward and grow. Like this event, we must continue to talk amongst ourselves and advance the dialogue with other faiths by not focusing on our differences and stressing our commonalities.”

Also, present were Mindy Stein and Cheryl Rosenberg of Be Counted 4 Israel—a local advocacy group that helps the busy, non-political individual get involved through email alerts that provide the community with a simple call to action, a 5-minute vetted script that raises the voice of American Jewry by empowering students, housewives, and busy individuals to help support Israel at no cost and no investment of time or travel. “We hope to increase advocacy and support of Israel to enable those unable to go to the front lines of Washington and the like.” Says Mindy, “Giving voice to those who have no time to otherwise get involved is what we do.”

Active in Yeshivoth, shuls, churches and organizations, Be Counted 4 Israel’s Cheryl Rosenberg says, “We put out short briefs with appropriate political contact information regarding important upcoming votes or for thank you’s to the likes of Norwegian Cruise Line or Scarlett Johansson, who have supported Israeli companies. We are definitely noticing the change, how the collective voice is influencing votes. “We encourage people to advocate for Israel through us, because we reach places AIPAC can’t. They are political and they can’t campaign in shuls, but we can.” For more info go to www.BeCounted4Israel.com

“We went through many different ideas we wanted to bring as many people together around an issue or issues as possible so they could all feel invested in and passionate about it regardless of affiliation.” said Ari Hirt of U4U. There is more to come from this local group, one that hopes its efforts will grow beyond Bergen County.

To continue being a part of this multiple denominational dialogue Tweet around this BSD conversation #U4U.

By Elyse Hansford

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