A handful of nonprofit foundations are refusing to answer questions about a series of donations they made to two left-leaning think tanks that have been engulfed in a controversy over their employees’ use of a borderline anti-Semitic slur.
Since being singled out by the Emergency Committee for Israel in a New York Times advertisement last week, most of the foundations in question have remained silent about the reasons they gave grants to the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters for America (MMFA), both of which have come under fire for their use of the term "Israel firster," an epithet that has its roots in the white supremacist movement.
Notably, several of the foundations that have contributed heavily to Media Matters are principally sponsored by prominent Jewish philanthropists and are closely tied to various pro-Israel organizations.
Together, these charities have donated millions of dollars to CAP and MMFA over the years, leaving many observers to wonder whether these nonprofits realize that they are funding such vitriolic content.
One of the foundations chastised by ECI—Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund—defended its donations in a statement to the Free Beacon.
"The information cited on Media Matter's grantee list refers to grants recommended by individual donors who have donor-advised fund accounts at Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund," Teri Ginsburg, a spokesperson for Fidelity’s charitable arm, said in a statement to the Free Beacon. "These are not grants from Fidelity Investments."
Like many of the Jewish community nonprofits that have come under fire in recent weeks for their donations to Media Matters, Fidelity claimed that it is not directly responsible for the donations made under its banner.
Fidelity maintained that it has little to no control over where a donor chooses to give.
"When a donor chooses to recommend a grant(s) anonymously, the nonprofit organization sometimes attributes the grant(s) in their Annual Report or other materials to Fidelity Charitable, rather than to the recommending donor," Ginsburg said. "Fidelity Charitable does not endorse organizations who receive grants recommended by its donors."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is listed as a donor to CAP, declined comment when reached last week by the Free Beacon.
Asked, however, if the organization was aware of the ECI ad, a spokesperson for the charity replied that he had "heard about it."
None of the other foundations cited in the ECI advertisement—which urged viewers to "Call these foundations and ask them, ‘Why are you funding bigotry and anti-Israel extremist?’"—responded to multiple requests seeking comment.
These groups include: The Pritzker Family Foundation, Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund, General Motors Foundation, the Schwab Charitable Fund, and a slew of other Jewish-run charities.
The Pritzker Family Foundation—which donated $400,000 to MMFA between 2007 and 2009—is partly run by Penny Pritzker, who served as the finance chair for President Obama’s presidential campaign.
Also tied to the foundation is Jay Robert Pritzker, a Chicago-based businessman and Obama backer who has worked with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s leading pro-Israel lobby.
Some observers continue to wonder why these charities are promoting views contrary to those of the mainstream Jewish community.
"Is [Pritzker’s] support of President Obama so strong that he ignores MMFA’s questioning of Jewish loyalty to America?" wondered Jeff Dunetz, a Jewish commentator who writes for the website Yid With Lid. "I would ask the same of the Rapoport Foundation who gives generously to the Jerusalem Foundation and United Jewish Communities, the Ellis Foundation who donates so generously to Hillel, and many others on the above list."
The Rapoport Foundation—which gave Media Matters $275,000 between 2005 and 2009—is run by the Texas-based businessman Bernard Rapoport and his wife, Audre.
In the past, the couple’s foundation has donated to the United Jewish Communities (now called the Jewish Federations of North America), a centrist umbrella group that serves Jewish community groups nationwide.
Dunetz, like other Jewish observers, believes the donations reveal that many liberal Jews are actively working against their community’s best interests.
"Sometimes we Jews tend to be our own worst enemies," he wrote. "As [the Jewish scholar] Ze'ev Jabotinsky said, Jews shut their eyes to one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not ‘meet halfway’ those who do not want to meet you."
Josh Block, formerly a top official at AIPAC, told the Free Beacon last week that Jewish nonprofits and those aligned with the Jewish community should actively ensure that philanthropic monies are not doled out to those who subvert Jewish values.
"Media Matters is currently in the business of paying for and spreading anti-Israel and anti-Semitic invective, and these donations—which do not comport with Jewish communal values—are funding that organization and its work," said Block, who is currently a Middle East analyst.
He added that "these Jewish organizations have a special obligation to stand up and declare that funding groups using rhetoric that the ADL, AJC, and Simon Wiesenthal Center have all identified as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel is simply not appropriate—unless of course they agree with Media Matters and neo-Nazis that it is a good idea to call elected officials and other pro-Israel Americans ‘Israel firsters.’"
Media Matters has refused to apologize for its continued use of the "Israel firster" slur, and its chief offender, M.J. Rosenberg, remains employed by the group—despite multiple calls for his resignation from prominent Israel activists.
The AJC and ADL—among the Jewish community’s chief defenders—initially criticized both CAP and Media Matters for using vitriolic smears. Lately, however, both organizations have backed down, and have even criticized ECI for quoting them in the Times ad.
Neither the ADL nor AJC responded to a request seeking comment on MMFA’s continued use of the term "Israel firster."
In 2003, it was revealed that Ford was bankrolling many of the pro-Palestine groups responsible for promoting anti-Semitism at the Durban conference, a United Nations-backed confab on racism that devolved into an anti-Israel free for all.
Ford donated nearly $1 million dollars to MMFA between 2010 and 2011.