Leading US Jewish organization approves West Bank visits

Jewish Federations of North America votes in favor of allowing some missions to take trips over the Green Line

The West Bank settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah on November 27, 2012. (Oren Nahshon/FLASH90)
The West Bank settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah on November 27, 2012. (Oren Nahshon/FLASH90)

The board of trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America voted to allow some of its missions to Israel to visit the West Bank.

“Today, the JFNA Board of Trustees approved a number of appropriate and necessary protocols to support the advocacy and education trips of the IAN [Israel Action Network],” JFNA said in a statement Wednesday following a board meeting via conference call. “This vote ensures that IAN will continue to travel to Israel and the surrounding areas not historically visited by JFNA staff.”

The meeting was led by the JFNA’s chairman, Richard Sandler, and was limited only to voting JFNA trustees, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

At issue are missions to Israel and the West Bank of Partners for Peace, a program of the JFNA affiliate Israel Action Network, which takes its delegations to Palestinian towns under the control of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The Israel Action Network came under the management of JFNA six months ago and is set to leave Sunday on its first mission since the change in leadership. It was previously part of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

It is not yet clear whether the vote is specifically for Israel Action Network trips or a wholesale change to JFNA policy, according to the Forward.

In an email sent to trustees and obtained by the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, which first reported the possible policy change, JFNA CEO Jerry Silverman said that JFNA believes “authorizing the entry of IAN missions into the PA is in the best interest of the federation system.”

The vote raises concerns that participants on trips that travel to the West Bank would be exposed to one side of the story if they visited Jewish settlements in the West Bank while avoiding Palestinian areas, according to the Jewish Journal.

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