By ZOA National President Morton A. Klein
(AUGUST 4, 2021 / JNS) As a Temple University alumnus and an Israel-supporter, it’s deeply troubling that Temple and its leaders have not held its new presidential choice, Dr. Jason Wingard, accountable for chairing the anti-Israel, antisemitic Tides Foundation and serving on the Tides Center board, at the very same time when the entities “proudly” funded at least 17 antisemitic, anti-Israel BDS organizations; elevated antisemitic organizations and leaders on Tides’ website as “Extraordinary Palestinian leaders”; and viciously libeled the Jewish state.
ZOA previously detailed Tides’ actions while Wingard served on Tides’ boards and as Tides’ chair, and urged Temple to rescind his appointment (here and here).
Wingard then gave the following embarrassing non-responses. Unfortunately, Temple’s Board chair sent an email adopting them.
His “It started before I got there” non-excuse: Wingard irrelevantly argued that “the programs in question … were engaged prior to my arrival on the [Tides] board.”
What matters is that Tides and Tides Center continued to donate huge annual amounts to multiple antisemitic BDS and Israel-demonization groups throughout the three-and-a-half years when Wingard was on its boards, and served as Tides co-chair and chair (Jan. 1, 2018, through June 24, 2021). ZOA’s previous articles described Tides’ partnerships and grants during Wingard’s reign, shown in Tides Foundation’s 2018 and 2019 Form 990 tax filings, and Tides Center Rockefeller Bros. Fund grants through June 2021.
In addition, during Wingard’s Tides chairmanship (and today), Tides’ website prominently boasts “Meet These Extraordinary Palestinian Leaders,” featuring Tides “partner” Arab Resource & Organizing Committee (AROC) and other BDS groups. Tides also has a page urging and facilitating donations to AROC—the main organizer of “Block the Boat” BDS actions to violently prevent an Israeli-based shipper from unloading medical and other supplies needed by Americans at U.S. ports around the country.
Why did Wingard join the Tides’ boards to begin with when the organization had already started donating to and partnering with groups dedicated to Israel’s destruction?
His “It wasn’t me” phony non-excuse: He misleadingly stated that he was “not privy to the selection of [Tides’] grantees and partner organizations. This decision is made by the CEO and Tides staff.” This non-excuse ignores that the Tides Board, and especially its chair Wingard, oversees Tides’ operations and decisions. He had the duty to overrule antisemitic decisions and end continuing antisemitic grants and partnerships.
Indeed, the header on the board page of Tides’ website says: “In addition [to] providing guidance and governance for Tides as a whole, our Board of Directors oversees each Tides organization. Tides’ impact is made possible by the shared commitment of our Board of Directors, staff, and partners.” The same header appeared when Wingard was Tides’ chair.
His “It’s only a small percentage” non-excuse: He (and Temple) misleadingly claimed that three of the antisemitic BDS groups funded by Tides were only a small percentage of Tides’ grantees. This ignored that Tides funds or partners with at least 17 of the worst antisemitic groups that demonize Israel, and promote and organize boycotts to harm Jews, Israel and Americans needing medical and other products. The “small percentage” non-excuse also ignored that Tides’ website prominently praised these antisemitic groups and their leaders who call for Israel’s annihilation.
During Wingard’s chairmanship, Tides’ website prominently posted “Meet These Extraordinary Palestinian Leaders,” featuring anti-Israel hate-and-boycott-organizer groups (AROC, Palestine Legal and Adalah), and AROC executive director and anti-Jewish hate group SJP co-founder Lara Kiswani, who stated that “bringing down Israel really will benefit everyone in the world, everyone in society.”
Tides’ feature article also directly spouted antisemitic libels, including falsely accusing Israel of perpetuating “massive, ongoing state-sponsored [Israeli] violence against Palestinians”; “pursuing a form of apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “settler colonialism”; and “blatant human-rights violations that Palestinians suffer day after day, year after year.” Tides never mentioned the truth that the real problems are the Hamas terror group and Palestinian Authority violence, incitement and P.A. payments to Arabs to murders Jews.
Moreover, funding and praising even one vicious antisemitic group and leader would be one too many. If Tides was funding the Ku Klux Klan, and Tides’ website praised David Duke and white supremacists who sought to destroy black-majority countries and prominently posted articles declaring “Meet These Extraordinary White Supremacist Leaders,” no decent person would stand for it. Everyone would expect the board chairman to condemn these groups and leaders, and immediately discontinue their funding and praise.
Yet to this day, Wingard has not condemned Tides’ funding of vicious antisemitic groups; its public glorification of groups and leaders who call for Israel’s annihilation; and Tides’ website demonizing Israel with vicious blood libels.
If Wingard is sincere about making amends to the Jewish community and giving Temple’s Jewish students a small degree of assurance, then he should immediately condemn Tides’ donations to and glorification of groups and leaders seeking Israel’s destruction, Tides’ demonization of Israel and condemn BDS.
Wingard has no real excuse for Tides’ antisemitic funding during his chairmanship and for misleading Temple officials about his responsibility for this. And Temple has no excuse for refusing to rescind Jason Wingard’s presidential appointment.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
This article was originally published in JNS and can be found here.