Forward Thinking

Strange Way To Express Sympathy With Sikhs (Update)

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

  • Print
  • Share Share
getty images

UPDATE: JFNA defends reference to Homeland Security grant program

The Jewish Federations of North America chose an odd way to offer condolences to the Sikh community over the weekend shooting rampage that killed six people at a temple in Wisconsin.

After offering its “deepest sympathy” to the victims, the JFNA claimed the mass shooting spotlights the value of a federal Homeland Security grant program dubbed the “Jewish earmark.”

There’s no reason to doubt the JFNA’s sincerity. But in fact, the Sikh killings would seem to be an object lesson in the failure of that program to protect a more diverse slice of Americans.

Not one of the 109 organizations that received the $10 million in nonprofit security grants distributed in 2012 are Sikh.

As the Forward reported, 97% of the funds went to Jewish groups.

“It is with the deepest sympathy that The Jewish Federations stand with and extend our prayers to the Sikh community following this weekend’s deadly attack on the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin,” the JFNA statement began.

It closed: “At this time of national reflection, we must ensure that people of all faiths are safe in their places of worship. Programs like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program are vital to protecting at-risk communities and institutions, enabling us to work, worship, gather, and learn without fear.”

JFNA vice president for public policy William Daroff defended the statement, claiming that 400 non-Jewish groups had received grants during the program’s seven-year lifespan.

“The attack that occurred on Sunday is exactly the sort of attack that we are hopeful that nonprofit security grant funding would go towards preventing, or least safeguarding against,” Daroff said.

Daroff said that the majority of the program’s funding goes to the Jewish community because of threat assessments made by Homeland Security officials.

“It doesn’t meant that the program should be limited to us, nor is it,” Daroff said. “The question is, why is the federal government whittling away this program that is necessary and should be expanded as homegrown risks grow for both the Jewish community and for other communities.”

There’s nothing written into the grant law that requires that funds distributed through the nonprofit security grant program go to Jews. In practice, though, the vast majority of the grants distributed since the program began in 2005 have disproportionately benefited Jewish groups, and Orthodox Jews in particular. The lobbying efforts of the JFNA have played a major role in preserving the grant program.

So was the JFNA taking the opportunity to suggest that Sikhs apply for the grants, which were slashed in half in the most recent federal budget?

Or was the organization using the occasion of the massacre to draw attention to one of their own earlier legislative successes?


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: wisconsin, temple, sikh, shooting, jewish federations of north America, jewish earmark, homeland security grant

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.