09 October 2006

Open letter to Howard Rieger

To: Mr. Howard Rieger
President and Chief Executive Officer of UJC

From: SnoopyTheGoon and affiliate blog partners, family members and friends

Subject: Distribution of emergency help money.

Dear Mr. Rieger,

I am writing this letter after reading an article by Ms. Helen Freedman of AFSI that can be read in its entirety here. In the article Ms. Freedman complains about the UJC policy of proportional distribution of the emergency assistance to the citizens of the Northern Israel. According to Ms. Freedman, there should be no allocation of emergency assistance funds to the Arab and Druze citizens from the donations collected by UJC. Moreover, Ms. Freedman is hurt by the fact that the Israeli government pays a compensation to the Arab and Druze citizens of the North (somehow linking this fact with the unhappy fate of Jewish families that were relocated from the Gaza Strip). Of course, Ms. Freedman may be unaware of the law that requires the government to compensate the damage caused by the war to every citizen, but this is hardly relevant to the appeal Ms. Freedman makes to UJC.

Mr. Rieger, the fact that UJC help Arab and Druze families shows that you and your organization are perfectly aware that:

  • The Arab and Druze houses and other property suffered extensive damage during the war - exactly as the houses and other property of Jewish citizens
  • The Arab and Druze communities suffered a proportionally greater number of killed and wounded than the Jewish communities (excluding the IDF dead), due to the sad fact that there sufficient shelters were not built in the Arab villages. It may have been an oversight that is easy to explain, but the results were clear to all.
  • The majority of Arab citizens are loyal tax paying citizens of the State of Israel and the stories about them dancing on the roofs and cheering Jewish deaths are, most probably, a sad result of lumping all Arabs together. Indeed, the manifestations of happiness mentioned by Ms. Freedman were observed in the West Bank and Gaza. But in any case these manifestations are not relevant where humanitarian assistance is concerned.
  • The Druze communities traditionally provide IDF with loyal and able recruits. A Druze unit was the first into Lebanon and stayed there for the whole of the war, performing with valor and resourcefulness.
We support the policy of UJC and other Jewish organizations to provide assistance to all the citizens of Northern Israel. We believe that this is the best way to win hearts and minds of Israeli Arab, Druze and other minorities and to show the world that Jews will not begrudge help to their fellow non-Jewish Israelis in the time of need.

We appeal to you to continue with this policy and not to give in to the voices calling you to change it. A change of the kind demanded by Ms. Freedman will be disastrous and going against the best Jewish traditions of humanism and kindness.

We appreciate your work and all the help you provide to our country,

With best wishes,
SnoopyTheGoon and others.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com