When it comes to philanthropy, there’s a wall around Israelis’ hearts

Hebrew University study shows the uniquely insular character of Israeli philanthropy, despite all the money this country gets from abroad.

It’s hard to read this news feature in today’s Haaretz and continue to believe that Israel, even if it were to end the occupation, is a worthy cause. The article is about a new Hebrew University study on philanthropy in this country and others:

In 2010, $575 billion was sent around the world for philanthropic purposes, but only $11 million came from Israel. According to figures from the past decade, 48 percent of charitable funds raised in Belgium were earmarked for international relief, compared with 38 percent in the Netherlands, 13 percent in Italy, 9 percent in Britain, 5 percent in the United States – and 0.1 percent in Israel. …

Not only do we Israelis, unlike people in other prosperous countries, give basically nothing to charity abroad, but at the same time we receive an ordinately huge amount of charity from the rest of the world. (By the way, the figures make it clear that the great bulk of that charity we got came from goyishe sources.)

The amount sent overseas by Israeli nonprofit groups in 2009 reached just NIS 107,000 – 0.1 percent of their revenues. In contrast, more than NIS 9.2 billion was received in Israel from donors and foundations abroad.

The most ironic (and, for a Jew, merciful) part of this story is that Diaspora Jews are world-renown for their philanthropy – and (to the enduring exasperation of stout-hearted Zionists) the large majority of it goes to non-Jewish causes. From a 2007 study of American Jewish philanthropy written up in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. (I couldn’t find figures for the rest of the Diaspora, but I imagine the picture there is about the same):

We examined about 50 of the largest and most prominent foundations established by Jews and looked at where they made their more than 8,000 grants in 2004 and 2005, the latest years for which comprehensive information is available.

The findings confirm our previous research: About 80 percent of the dollars they gave away went to general causes — higher education, health care, arts and culture, programs for the poor and elderly, the environment and more. About 20 percent went to Jewish causes, including 7 percent for Israel-related purposes.

Oh well. I don’t think these statistics need a lot of analysis for what they say about the way Israeli Jews see themselves in the world vs the way Diaspora Jews do, or about which way is good and which way is shitty. At any rate, though, thank you for your generosity, chaverim. The people of Israel are eternally grateful.