New York, NY, November 20, 2009 – One day before the Hebron Fund’s controversial fundraising dinner at the New York Mets’ Citi Field, a coalition of civil rights and peace organizations released new details about extremist statements by individuals associated with the Hebron Fund, and about its fundraising for illegal purposes. The statements were made by Yossi Baumol, the Executive Director of the Hebron Fund, Rabbi Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish settlers in Hebron, and Noam Arnon, an honoree at the upcoming dinner. Other examples of racist, violent and illegal activities supported by the Hebron Fund were included in a November 3rd letter to the Mets.
On November 18th, the coalition brought fifty New Yorkers to Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig”s Office, protesting Major League Baseball’s connection with the Hebron Fund. That event followed a letter-writing campaign that has generated over 2600 letters to the New York Mets, asking them to cancel the dinner with the settler organization.
In a November 18th press release, Hebron Fund Executive Director Baumol characterized President Obama’s cautious opposition to Israel’s expansion of its illegal, racially exclusive settlements as “racist limitations” on “Jewish growth.” In 2007, Baumol, told The American Prospect’s Matthew Duss that “[d]emocracy is poison to Arabs,” “Israel must not give Arabs a say in how the country is run,” and “[y]ou’ll never get the truth out of an Arab.” Duss noted that Baumol insisted on referring to Palestinians as “Arabs,” a common practice among people who deny Palestinian national rights.
Nancy Kricorian from CODEPINK Women for Peace said, “The New York Mets and Major League Baseball sully their reputations by associating with the Hebron Fund, which is known the world over for supporting violent, racist and criminal settlers in Hebron.”
Additionally, Noam Arnon, a 2009 Hebron Fund dinner honoree, called Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein “an extraordinary person” in 1995 according to a report by the Associated Press. In 1994 Goldstein massacred 29 unarmed Palestinians who were praying in a Hebron mosque, and wounded over 100 more.
Hebron”s Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, a featured participant in other Hebron Fund events, was quoted in a 2004 report in Al-Jazeera as issuing an edict saying that non-Jewish lives have no sanctity, especially during the time of war. The report also quotes him calling Baruch Goldstein a “great saint,” applauding the Israeli army’s killing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and saying that a “thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.”
According to a Jerusalem Post report on a newly published religious book by two settler rabbis that has caused an uproar in Israel over its extremely permissive attitude towards the killing of civilians, “the book has received the approbation of Kiryat Arba-Hebron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior.” According to the Post, the book says that it is permitted for a Jew to kill civilians who provide moral support to an enemy of the Jews or express satisfaction about the enemy’s actions; civilians, including innocent children, who stand in the way of rescuing Jews; and young children, if it is foreseeable that they will grow up to become enemies of the Jews or if killing them creates pressure on the enemy leader.
The coalition also released more details about illegal settlement activities supported through the Hebron Fund’s fundraising. In the Winter 2008 issue of the Hebron Fund”s newsletter “Hebron Today,” Yossi Baumol wrote an article supporting the settler takeover of a Palestinian home in Hebron referred to as “The House of Contention,” which the settlers call “the House of Peace” or “Beit Hashalom.” Baumol made a fundraising pitch for $18,000 to support the occupation of the house. After settlers refused to leave the house voluntarily despite an Israeli court order, the house was eventually forcibly evacuated by the Israeli authorities. The settlers then retaliated with violence against Palestinians, in what then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called a “pogrom.” The Hebron Fund”s promotion of settlement construction and discriminatory activities appear to contradict the Hebron Fund”s declaration, submitted yearly on its IRS Form 990, that its “primary exempt purpose” is “to promote social and educational well being.”
Neil Strauss from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee asserted, “A case can be made that The Hebron Fund should not be eligible for tax-exempt status in the US because it is not organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes, but rather promotes the anti-charitable values of violence, racism, and opposition to human rights. The settlement activity that the Hebron Fund supports in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is racially exclusive, discriminatory, contrary to United States policy and contrary to international law.”
Jewish Voice for Peace on Hebron Fund Director Yossi Baumol: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/t/1849/content.jsp?content_KEY=6664