FEDERATION FOCUS: Taking on the Charitable Deduction Cap, BDS

JointMedia News Service presents the latest news from the Jewish Federation system in the monthly “Federation Focus” feature.

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The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) led a coalition of charitable groups that opposed the Obama administration’s proposal to help pay for the $447 billion America Jobs Act through capping tax deductions and exclusions.

Senate Democratic leaders rejected the idea of imposing a limit on the deductibility of charitable contributions for those with taxable incomes over $200,000.

“The defeat of this onerous proposal is due, in no small part, to the activism of Jewish Federations and communal leaders who expressed their opposition to Senators, Members of Congress, and the Administration,” William C. Daroff, JFNA vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office, said in a statement.

JFNA said it “will continue to play a leading role in advocating against this policy change” as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in Congress is charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23.

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JFNA removed Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) leader Cecilie Surasky from contention in its 2011 Jewish Community Heroes contest, citing her organization’s support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

“A central value of The Jewish Federations of North America is to support Israel, and the Jewish Heroes rules preclude us from accepting any nominees whose aims run counter to that mission,” Joe Berkofsky, JFNA’s managing director of communications, said in a statement. “Our Israel Action Network is working to challenge the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement and other efforts to isolate and weaken the Jewish state. We cannot therefore support a group that seeks to harm Israel through its support for BDS.”

JVP “rejects the assertion that BDS is inherently anti-Semitic, and we encourage discussion both within our own community and outside of it of the growing BDS movement,” according to its website.

“We support divestment from and boycotts of companies that pro?t from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem,” JVP states.

The winner of the Jewish Community Heroes competition receives a $25,000 grant for his or her project, while four runners-up receive $1,000 apiece. You can vote for a winner through Nov. 10 at http://www.jewishcommunityheroes.org/nominees/.

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Following the news of Israel and Hamas reaching a prisoner exchange deal for the release of Gilad Shalit, JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman noted that he recently spent time with Shalit’s parents in a tent they put up outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem.

“Having had the privilege of sitting with Aviv and Noam Shalit in their tent and seeing the pain of five years of captivity of a child, hearing this news, I don’t have words to describe how grateful and overjoyed I am for them and their family,” Silverman said in a statment.

Rebecca Caspi, director general of JFNA’s Israel office, stressed that the organization is “acutely aware of the difficulty and pain of those victims of terror and their families who have had to accept the release of [Palestinian] terrorists from prison.”

“Our thoughts go out to these Israelis while we pray for Gilad’s speedy re-entry to life in Israel,” she said in a statement.

Posted on September 20, 2011 and filed under Israel, U.S..