In an unprecedented and exciting move in Israeli philanthropy, the Jewish Agency for Israel has just announced a new partnership with the International Fellowship for Christians and Jews.
In exchange for positions on the Jewish Agency’s board of governors and the ability to have a deeper impact in Israeli society, the IFCJ will donate $45 million over the next 3 years to aid immigrant absorption in Israel.
This donation will bring the IFCJ to a total of almost $400 million donated to Israel over the past 10 years, an amount that cannot be overlooked for either the extent of its generosity or its commitment to the Jewish state.
What Christian Philanthropy Means to Israel
Let’s look at why this move is important for understanding the landscape of Jewish and Israeli philanthropy.
According to the Jewish Agency, this new agreement would “[legitimize a] strategic partnership with the Christian community and the core of the Zionist enterprise of the Jewish Agency.”
Jewish Agency Director Zeev Bielski adds, “This partnership will improve our ability to face today’s challenges and improve our services to those who need our support. The long-standing contribution of [IFCJ head] Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the Fellowship to the state of Israel… is a badge of honor for the non-Jewish communities around the world who support Israel and who believe that strengthening Israel is a top priority.”
This leads us to the age old question, “Is it good for Jews?” More specifically, “What are the pros and cons of Christian philanthropy to Israel?”
The pros are obvious: Christian generosity channeled through Jewish and Israeli organizations strengthens the organizations, gives them worldwide cachet, and strengthens their abilities to be service providers to Israeli citizens.
The cons are tricker because we don’t yet know their long term consequences. Some of the more apparent answers are those that donors and recipients always need to discuss, regarding the expected results of the donation.
Will the sheer number of dollars donated from an organization with very Christian interests change the nature of the Jewish Agency? It is highly doubtful. Will the donations influence the Jewish Agency to consider Christians or Christian ideals in a way that may not have been possible before? Those $400 million donors certainly hope that the new partnership will give them a greater stake.
This is certainly a trend in Israeli philanthropy that I have my eye on. I plan on presenting you with new developments as we hear of them. In the meantime, ask yourself this key question: WWMD (that’s What Would Moses Do)?
- “Iranian Jews Offered $10,000 Each to Come to Israel” (to be donated by the IFCJ)
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