CUNY Board Member and Professor Tied to Settler Charity With ‘No Arabs’ Policy

Now that the board of the City University of New York has had time to reconsider, and reverse their ill-fated decision to deny playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree for his criticism of Israel, attention is shifting to CUNY board member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld who led the charge against Kushner.

Wiesenfeld, who described Kushner as a “Jewish anti-Semite,” might have his own explaining to do about his fundraising for Mishmeret Yesha, an organization which assists settlements in organizing security and whose security chief said, “We don’t want to have anything to do with any organization that employs Arabs,” in a 2008 interview.

A YouTube video of the group’s training can be viewed here:

Wiesenfeld helps fund Mishmeret Yesha through the Israel Independence Fund, where he serves as a director along with CUNY faculty member Judith Friedman Rosen (who also sits on the board of Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum), but their names aren’t listed anywhere on the organization’s website (990 tax filings can be viewed here and here). The website does, however, proudly list Mishmeret Yesha as a recipient of the Fund’s financial support.

Back in 2008, Phil Weiss excerpted from a Jerusalem Post article about Mishmeret Yesha:

[Moshe] Hager-Lau [a rabbi and colonel who chairs “Premilitary Religious Academies” in the West Bank] asked Mishmeret Yesha , an organization that has trained more than 100 rapid response teams throughout Judea and Samaria, to help train the yeshiva students.

Israel Danziger, head of operations at Mishmeret Yesha, said he had been asked by Hager-Lau to put together a general plan for educational institutions that would improve their preparedness to deal with terrorist infiltrations.

Danziger said the plan included an early-warning system; drills that would teach every settlement resident where to go in case of an attack; coordinating and practicing communications between emergency organizations and residents; and conducting periodic mock attacks.

However, one of Mishmeret Yesha’s central security demands is a no-Arab policy.

“We don’t want to have anything to do with any organization that employs Arabs,” said Danziger. “There is no sense in training a rapid response team in a settlement or an institution where you have a bunch of Arabs walking around gathering information.”

While Wiesenfeld might be regretting his decision to accuse Kushner of anti-Semitism, that scandal appears to be in the process of blowing over. But Wiesenfeld’s own apparent connections to bigotry and organizations which actively promote intolerance and racism in Israel and the occupied territories might not go away as easily.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. Your tirade against Mr. Wiesenfeld’s right to protest is in and of itself proof of your limited understandinbg not only of the issues at hand, but clearly of Middle East realities in general.

    Mr. Wiesnfeld has correctly pointed out that the vast majority of citizens of the City of New York view Israel in an extremely positive light and in no way find favor with the rantings of Mr. Kushner. Clearly while the academic staff of Columbia might be in sync with his radical anti Zionist stand the folks in the streets of NY are much more sane, and more patriotic, knowing full well Israel’s value as an American ally.

    Moreover Mr. Kushner’s anti Zionism does nothing but encourage and strenthen despotism in the Middle East, something you are probably loath to consider in your lemming like approach to the complexities of the region, which you probably know little about.

    As for raising funds for first response teams in front line communitites…are you really that blind to understand what happenend recently in Itamar where a family was buthered in cold blood by two Arab men who had previously been employed in Jewish communitites. Would YOU have employed radical Jihadist in favor of suicide murders to work in your home near your children, wife, mother?

    I guess, you, like so many others, like your Jews nice and rare (and bloody) not tough and well done like Mr. Wiesenfeld. Thank goodness proud Jews have learned their lessons well.

    By the way…when was the last time you protested the fact that in Iran gay teenagers are literally hung from lamposts, that the Jordanian and Palestinian constitutions punish anyone selling property to a Jew with the death penalty, that Chrisitan soldiers serving in the US military in Saudi Arabia may not openly celebrate Christian hoidays? Your protest is so selective as to be clear in its agenda.

    Mr. Wiesenfeld has, in his protest, served the best interests of CUNY, the citizens of NYC, the interests of the US. His activities in helping Israel’s citizens in educational programming, social outreach and yes…in purchasing protective flak jackets for infants, our outstanding and should be commended.

  2. Israel’s value as an American ally, Mr. Ya’akov? But the Israeli alliance is the only reason we have problems in the Middle East. Our relations with the countries there would be strictly commercial and without the slightest friction but for our pro-Israel policy. Supporting Israel has cost this country dearly, and will continue to do until we either sever the relationship or the Israelis evacuate the territories occupied in 1967 and permit the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. As to the latter, time is in fact running out for a two-state solution. The “Third Intifadah” is about to get underway, and there will be a fourth, and a fifth, and eventually the Israelis will be overwhelmed. As Americans, we should be looking to our own interests rather than those of a foreign country that contributes nothing to the security and prosperity of our nation.

  3. The Jerusalem Post article also contains the following:

    “Danziger was invited to the Hewe Street shul to hear a rabbi who would change the trajectory of his life. “I had quite frankly never heard a rabbi speak that way before,” he says. “He was interesting and unique. Usually, rabbis that I had heard speak did not have anything to say that I could take seriously. Nothing they said had to do with anything that was relevant to my life. But he was different.” Danziger learned from the rabbi that Jews could fight back. They could protect themselves, their families, their livelihoods. They could use force. The rabbi was Meir Kahane.”

    So apparently Mr. Wiesenfeld is actively engaged in raising tax-deductible US dollars to put guns in the hands of Kahanists in the occupied territories…

  4. Son of Ya’akov,

    You go through life with that brain? You should be in a padded cell. Your logic jumps here and there, like a fool seeking his god.

    You base your argument on the rationale that the masses want to support Israel. Democracy requires that the rights of the minorities are protected. What you’re advocating is mob rule.

    Israel has a problem with rights for minorities as well. This is deeply ironic. Not only were Jews marginalized as minorities, the Warsaw Ghetto comes to mind. I think your blind advocacy for Israel amounts to racial bigotry, but I still believe you have a right to hold your bigoted, tribal views.

    Because, I believe in Human and Civil Rights. That is something Israel seems unwilling to extend to Palestinians, who are not the religious fanatics in Israel. That would be those who are “oppressing, dominating, humiliating and starving and entire people;” all cause a 3000 year old story told them the land was theirs. That the God of the whole universe picked twelve families to favor over the whole rest of creation. That they have special rights over the rest of mankind. That all other men are beasts to serve the twelve families.

    You write of Itmar, and seem to know all the facts, though those seem to be quite nebulous. I understood that some imported workers (Thai) were considered suspects. When you treat others like animals sometimes they take out their masters.

    Maybe I should be concerned about these abuses where ever they occur. But I can’t do that, I focus on those sins that occur in my name. You call Israel our ally, but they demand we give money, give on settlements, give vetos to cover your breaches of international law, give soldiers and armament to fight your wars, give to keep you from fighting, give to fund your theft of other’s land. Where’s the return on investment?

    You write of “despotism” in the Middle East, though as Jon points out WE sponsor dictators TO PROTECT ISRAEL. Israel is terrified of democracy, terrified of rights for people. Did you miss how apoplectic Zionists were and are over the Arab Spring? Your arguments are so perverted and twisted by your sophistic arguments you can’t keep it straight. And, many of your fellow Jews are seeing the facts for what they are. Israel fears democracy for Arabs, fears democratic rights, and freedom of assembly, press and association. Israel nullified the election of Hamas.

    Perhaps your arguments are Talmudic indeed. That’s the only kind of “logic” that can square Joshua with the Golden Rule.

  5. A. Ben Ya’akov—

    You are daft.

    Reminds me of what I read recently about what I. Stone said.
    I’ll paraphrase him –that Jews survival in the countries they live in depends on it’s democracy and equal rights and pluralist societies.

    But in Israel the Jews survival depends on racist
    ideology and the notion that Jews are superior.

    So …how long do you think the world is going to continue to put up with their glaring hypocrisy?

    Between NY and Florida Jewish strongholds is a whole other country of 300 million Americans that don’t support Israel, couldn’t care less but would in fact probably have already pushed it into the sea themselves if they knew the true extent of what it was costing them.

    Israel is in deep doo-doo and too dumb to see it.
    No cure for stupid.

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