The students at New Voices magazine were distressed to learn that their funding will be cut; they will receive only $10,000 from the UJA-Federation of New York this year. Last year they were given $30,000, could have received $40,000 this time around, and — adding insult to injury — this year’s reduced funding also requires that they run advertisements for two pro-Israel advocacy groups free of charge.
The Forward seems to bemoan the reduced funding, quoting the editor of New Voices and one of its advocates, and discussing the layoff caused by the cut. The New Voices editor clearly seems to take the position that the UJA should simply hand over the money, whether or not New Voices is to the UJA’s liking:
The magazine’s editor, Ilana Sichel, said she believed that displeasure with the coverage of Israel in New Voices was the reason for the reduction. “The translation, as far as we understand it is: We publish articles that present Israel as a real political entity with real problems,” Sichel wrote in an e-mail. “And that doesn’t serve the advocacy agenda.”
Unfortunately for Ms. Sichel, the Golden Rule of donations is that he who has the gold, makes the rules. There’s nothing wrong or insidious with the UJA having a pro-Israel agenda.
In fact, given what New Voices publishes, my question is whether the pro-Israel advertising explains why the UJA is still investing $10,000. It is possible that the UJA, after discussing the sum of $40,000 last year for this year’s budget, didn’t want to cut the cord entirely.
The issue featured an article about Birthright Unplugged, a tour of the West Bank and Israel that challenges the authenticity of the popular Birthright Israel trips and bills itself as an opportunity for participants to “meet Palestinians and learn about daily life under occupation.” In the October issue that just went to press, a student editorial titled “Our Hearts May Be in Israel, But…” encourages organizations to deemphasize Israel issues in favor of issues facing Jews in the United States.
For the record, I don’t disagree with the latter article. I do think it’s strange for the UJC General Assembly to be hugely Israel-focused when there are plenty of issues to deal with here at home. But I can see where the UJA, as a branch of the UJC, might not want to fund a journal sharply critical of the UJC. And if New Voices is doing articles about the occupation of “Palestinian” territories captured in self-defense in 1967, I wonder how many articles they have done focusing upon the daily lives of victims of Palestinian terrorism — the reason why every Israeli effort to relieve the “pressures of occupation” has proven to be a costly mistake.
The cover article concerns Palestinian activists participating in the gay “WorldPride” and importing their political agenda. It begins with the antics of a cross-dressing “bride” of Palestine. Given this range of articles, I don’t know how the UJA explains even its reduced contribution.