Open Federations is a campaign to ask the Jewish Federations of North America to stop conditioning their support for Jewish institutions on these institutions’ adherence to political red lines around Israel/Palestine. This campaign brings together Jewish students and community members who want to have an open conversation about Israel in their communities.
Why are we protesting the Federations?
As the umbrella organization that funds and supports Jewish life across the US and Canada and claims to speak on behalf of North American Jews, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) ought to be accountable to its constituents. However, we have increasingly seen the Jewish Federations evade any sense of communal democratic accountability. For instance, the sheer cost of attendance at the JFNA General Assembly -- $500 -- makes this Jewish communal gathering inaccessible to most Jewish community members.
Furthermore, the Jewish Federations often take positions on Israel/Palestine that not only fail to represent the great diversity of opinions within Jewish communities, but also are at odds with the views held by majorities of American Jews. For instance, though Jewish Americans supported the Iran deal by wide margins, Jewish federations across the country -- from Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles -- declared their opposition to diplomacy. This most recent example shows the extent to which the Federations, which ought to be accountable to Jewish community members, are accountable primarily to right-wing donors.
Our Open Federations campaign was started in November 2015 with the Jewish People's Assembly, a gathering outside the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly. Here are some articles about the Jewish People's Assembly, and you can also read our open letter to the leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America.
If you have a story of your local federation preventing events critical of Israel from being held (e.g. through threatening to withdraw funds), you can submit it here.