If you're like me, you've been closely following the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas, and trying to dig out from under a flood of urgent appeals — phone, snail mail and email — from Jewish groups urging you to "show your support" for Israel.
How to show support? Send money, of course.
Some are soliciting for Israel Emergency Funds, as in prior crises, but most are collecting for their own coffers.
Jewish National Fund sent repeated pleas to "Donate/Plant Trees/Travel to Israel." Magen David Adom wants you to "click now to help save a life in Israel." The World Jewish Congress wants your money "to rally the international Community." AIPAC wants you to know it lobbied Congress to support Israel and fund the Iron Dome anti-missile project, which has played a critical role in this war.
Several groups bombarded me with appeals for signatures on petitions or condolence books to condemn anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attacks, support Israel and send assorted messages. I don't know if anyone will ever read these but of this I am sure: when you sign your name, you're very likely to land on the group's mailing list, which entitles you to an endless stream of pleas for donations.
Some groups also are also urging you to contact your Members of Congress, urging them to express their support for Israel's right to defend itself as it sees fit. Most of those lawmakers are one step ahead of you. They quickly began passing resolutions, signing letters and issuing press releases polishing their pro-Israel credentials — all of which will be followed up with requests for contributions to their reelection campaigns so you can "thank" them.
Some of the appeals from organizations for financial aid for the war victims are legitimate – help displaced families, provide food and shelter and emergency services – but be very careful where you send your money and how it’s to be used. Some of the advocacy groups are raising money to pay the half-million-dollar salaries and lavish expense accounts of their top executives and to pay for still more – and expensive – fundraising campaigns.
Crises – war, floods, famine – bring the opportunists out of the woodwork to plead for your money to “help the victims,” but you may be the victim and they’re the ones being helped. I've gotten appeals from sources I've never heard of and I suspect are in business for themselves.
Those who genuinely want to show their support for the Israeli people in this crisis need to carefully distinguish between those who truly want to help the victims and those who want to help themselves.
Am I being cynical? Realistic and experienced would be a better description.