Groundbreaking Israeli Aid to Syria: Recent News & JFN's Role

Recent news has brought to light the extent of Israeli aid to Syrians facing a vast humanitarian crisis. One key player in this effort is the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, which was founded by JFN Co-Chair Dr. Georgette Bennett. 

The New York Times: "Israeli Aid Gives an Unexpected 'Glimmer of Hope' for Syrians"

Isabel Kershner, July 20, 2017

...Most of the supplies are donated by Israeli and foreign nongovernmental organizations, while the Israeli government has footed the bill for medical treatment. According to the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, a New York-based network of organizations involved in the aid effort, Israel has also become an efficient, if unlikely, staging area for Syrian aid groups operating abroad that, facilitated by the Israeli military, are now shipping goods into Syria through Israeli ports.

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The Jerusalem Post: "US faith group facilitates unique ties between IDF and Syrian war victims"

Danielle Ziri, August 2, 2017

...The IDF said it has begun working with international organizations and donors to transfer aid to over 200,000 Syrians living in villages close to the Israeli border. One of these organizations is the Multifaith Alliance, an umbrella group of some 90 faith-based organizations in the United States coming together for Syrians in need...

...The Alliance originally launched in 2013 as the Jewish Coalition for Syrian refugees, which at that time was made up of 16 organizations and quickly scaled up to a multi-faith initiative. With the 90 organizations involved, they collect aid in the US and ship it to Israel where the IDF now distributes it to Syrian NGOs, as part of the “Good Neighbor” policy. 

When they learned about existing collaborations between Syrian and Israeli NGOs, the group new that the partnerships could have important implications for the future not just in the immediate need of delivering aid, but for the sake of long-term relations in the region.

“Israel shares a border with four of the most affected countries and therefore it makes enormous sense for Israel to be used as a staging area for the delivery of outbound International humanitarian aid because Israel is a reliable partner, it's got geographical proximity, it's got tremendous expertise in search and rescue and it's got technology that is designed to address disaster situations,” Dr. Georgette Bennett, a daughter of Holocaust survivors who founded the Alliance, told the Post...

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Dr. Bennett notes that Jewish Funders Network played a part in these efforts. As she told us:

JFN had a significant role in bringing attention to the issue of Syrian war victims and catalyzing the response of the Jewish community. JFN’s conference workshops, webinars, and Board briefings were an invaluable support of our work. The Milstein Foundation provided lead support of the Syrian/Israeli engagement process, and other JFN members provided crucial support for other critical aspects of MFA’s work. For example: The Leichtag Foundation is the linchpin of MFA’s advocacy work—uniquely so, because very few foundations are willing to support advocacy and/or lobbying. The Lang Foundation provided important funding for MFA’s public outreach programs. The Doctoroff, Blaustein, and Berrie Foundations provided major support for humanitarian aid via our partnership with JDC. And the Arnow, Cummings, Lion, and Kalin Foundations have provided major support.

MFA could not have achieved what it has without having the JFN wind at our backs.

MFA reports they have sent more than $21.5 million of relief through this new channel, and already have commitments for the shipment of an additional $23.2 million of food, clothing, medical supplies, medicine, and medical equipment. 

JFN will continue to keep the Jewish philanthropic community updated on the impact of these new partnerships between Israelis and Syrians on the ground and in the region.