by Mairav Zonszein
Following the revelation last week in The Forward that the San Francisco Jewish Federation gave $100,000 to Canary Mission, the shadowy website that blacklists and intimidates students and professors who criticize Israel, the Federation assured its constituents that it was a “one-time grant” that would never happen again. But Canary Mission is just the tip of the iceberg.
An extensive review by +972 of the Federation’s tax filings shows that the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco and the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which the former controls and which it used to fund Canary Mission, have bankrolled an extensive list of extremist, far-right, anti-Muslim organizations in recent years.
The systematic pattern of financially supporting hate groups appears to also violate the SF Federation’s own guidelines, which specify that it will not fund organizations that “endorse or promote anti-Semitism, other forms of bigotry, violence or other extremist views.”
Among the extremist, radical right-wing, and anti-Muslim groups that received funds from the SF Federation, both directly and through the Diller Foundation, and some of which have received substantial and repeated grants over the years, include: Project Veritas, The AMCHA Initiative, The American Freedom Law Center, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, The David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the work of Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders (through the International Freedom Alliance Foundation). Others include the Clarion Fund, the Center for Security Policy (Frank Gaffney), the Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes), the Tea Party Patriots Foundation, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Project Veritas, which the Federation gave $100,000 in 2016, is responsible for falsifying sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore last year to The Washington Post in hopes of entrapping the liberal mainstream media.
The AMCHA Initiative, which received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the SF Federation and the Diller Foundation in recent years, operates similarly to Canary Mission, except that it primarily goes after faculty, not students.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years, has been condemned by the Southern Poverty Law Center as promoting anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant attitudes.
The American Freedom Law Center and Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative both target Islam as a threat to Western civilization. The former advances “anti-Sharia” legislation and filed an amicus brief in support of Trump’s Muslim ban. The latter, which has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group, was responsible for Islamophobic bus campaigns in several cities, and has been represented by the American Freedom Law Center.
+972 Magazine asked the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation about these grants and others that appear to violate its own guidelines against promoting bigotry, violence, and extremist views. The SF Federation’s senior director of communications, Kerry Philp, responded by email:
We review each grant recommendation at the time that it is submitted to the Federation, to determine if the organization adheres to the Federation’s granting guidelines. This applies to organizations across the political spectrum. We aim to make the best decisions with the information that we have at the time. Because organizations are dynamic, an organization that previously received a grant from the Federation may not be in compliance with the Federation’s grantmaking guidelines today, and vice versa. Also, per our statement, we strengthened the implementation of our review process in 2017 and continue to be committed to executing our grant review with a standard of care in regard to our guidelines.
Philp added that the Federation does indeed deny grants when they violate its guidelines but would not address any of the grants to the organizations listed in this article or why they were approved.
The San Francisco Jewish Community Federation is one of the largest Jewish charities in the United States with a budget of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Furthermore, it is located in, and presumably represents, one of the most progressive cities and communities in the United States. Whether the SF Federation’s financial support of radical, right-wing, Islamophobic, bigoted, and McCarthyite groups aligns with that community’s values is ultimately up to its members.
Mairav Zonszein is an independent writer, translator and editor, originally from NYC. My publications include The Guardian, The New York Times, Salon, The Daily Beast, National Geographic, Al Jazeera America, The Forward, etc. Reprinted, with permission, from +972 Magazine.