Where Does Right-Wing Organization Elad Get Its Funding?

Benjy Cannon Image
Benjy Cannon
on March 8, 2016

J Street’s blog aims to reflect a range of voices. The opinions expressed in blog posts do not necessarily reflect the policies or view of J Street.            

This weekend, Israeli investigative journalist Uri Blau published his latest installment in his series on the relationship between Jewish American philanthropy and the settlement movement. In this piece, Blau looks specifically at foreign contributions to Elad, a right-wing organization that settles Jews and runs tours in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem:

“The source of Elad’s donations has long been considered a well-kept secret. Despite legal requirements, for years Elad — a registered nonprofit that has always possessed a certificate of proper management — has not provided a list of donors that contribute over 20,000 shekels annually to the Registrar of Non-Profit Organizations.

After telling the registrar that submitting the donors’ details could hurt them or the organization, Elad received permission in 2008 not to disclose donors’ names.

But the registrar later made requests, and in recent months Elad revealed to the registrar all donors that contributed over 20,000 shekels between 2006 and 2013. This totaled more than 450 million shekels, or 56 million shekels annually on average.

These figures are enormous by Israeli NGO standards, so it is no surprise that Elad is one of Israel’s wealthiest nonprofits. According to its 2014 financial report, its assets were 286 million shekels that year, with revenues of 59 million shekels.”

The piece is worth reading in full, but here are two key takeaways:

  1. Many American Jews are likely to recognize, and even contribute to, some of the groups that fund Elad. These include Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency and some chapters of Friends of the IDF. That means that many American Jews are, perhaps unwittingly, indirectly contributing to an organization that has an express goal of “Judaising Jerusalem” by increasing Jewish settlement in Arab neighborhoods. In addition to forcibly displacing Palestinians, settling Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods further undermines confidence in Israel’s commitment to peace and makes Jerusalem harder to share — a necessary component of any two-state solution.
  2. That so much of Elad’s funding comes from abroad undermines the Israeli government’s argument that the goal of the NGO bill is to promote “transparency.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has defended the NGO bill by claiming that it ensures that NGOs are being upfront about their funding. However, the Bill only subjects NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments to its stringent requirements. The affected organizations are disproportionately progressive, whereas the organizations that receive funding from individuals and private foundations from outside Israel tend to be right-wing. Elad, which gets the majority of its funding from untraceable offshore accounts, would not be affected by the NGO Bill.

Benjy Cannon is the 2015-2016 Mikva Fellow at J Street. He’s on Twitter at @benjycannon