Will Role of Fed Head in Anti-Israel Org Impact Israel Policy at Seattle Jewish Federation?

New Israel Fund Regional Council Member Takes Leadership Role in Seattle Jewish Federation. 

In June of 2015 Seattle was embroiled in controversy as New Israel Fund (NIF) brought a speaker from the anti-Israel organization Breaking the Silence (BtS) to Temple Beth Am. The evening amounted to what some attendees described as a one sided libel-fest against Israel and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. Joining her fellow New Israel Fund PNW Regional Council members in defending the controversial event  was Sarah Boden, the incoming chair of the Jewish Federation. Some in the Seattle Jewish community questioned why the Federation appointed as their leader an official of the New Israel Fund, an organization that many view  as divisive and  hostile to Israel.

Notes Ronn Torossian in The Hill, “The New Israel Fund has been clamoring against the State of Israel, and has established itself as a funder of many groups that engage in anti-Israel activities.  Whether it is Adalah promoting lawfare, B’Tselem promoting Israel as an apartheid state, HaMoked providing flawed and erroneous data toward the damaging and now debunked Goldstone report, or Breaking the Silence issuing edited testimonies from soldiers about the 2014 Gaza operation, concluding Israel intentionally targeted non-combatants, NIF’s money and support is at the center.”


NIF sponsored Breaking the Silence event at Temple Beth Am.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, told The Algemeiner “While the leaders of the New Israel Fund and the European governments claim to support Israel and human rights principles, they enable the highly destructive activities that do the opposite.”

“I feel that the appointment of Sarah Boden further polarizes our community” said Seattle area resident Elena Alberstone in an interview with The Mike Report. For Elena this is not an abstract, her son Dov is currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces in the same unit as another young volunteer from Seattle. Elena explained that to her, the attacks by NIF funded groups is both personal and painful. “The idea that an organization such as the New Israel Fund chooses to prosecute them [IDF soldiers] for doing their jobs is nothing short of reprehensible.”


Elena Alberstone with her son Dov.


David Jacoby

David Jacoby, a local business consultant with deep roots in the Seattle Jewish community concurs with Alberstone. “When someone in a highly visible community leadership position publicly supports a fringe group, it gives a seal of approval to that group.  I find this distressing since it has been well documented that NIF funded Breaking the Silence promotes hatred against the IDF and Israel by routinely using unsubstantiated claims.”

The good of our community, here, in Israel, and wherever Jews are in this world is and will always be in my heart and soul.

Sarah Boden, incoming chair, JFGS

Responding to these communal concerns, Ms. Boden assured The Mike Report that her volunteerism and efforts have been solely focused on helping and growing our community. Said Ms. Boden, “In all of my work in Jewish Seattle my objective has always been and will continue to be to foster respectful dialogue and understanding across our diverse community. The good of our community, here, in Israel, and wherever Jews are in this world is and will always be in my heart and soul.”

The Jewish Federation is the single largest local sponsor of trips to Israel for young people. Additionally the Federation directs hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable, educational and other causes in the Jewish state.

One thing on which all can agree is that the best way to positively impact the direction and success of our communal organizations is by investing the time and energy to get involved.

Informational Resources on New Israel Fund:

Informational Resources on Breaking the Silence