‘Jewish Earmark’ Anti-Terror Program Sees Cuts After Investigative Report

In September, an impressive piece of investigative reporting by the Jewish Daily Forward exposed a federal program that helps non-profits prepare for terror attacks as a “Jewish earmark.” The Nonprofit Security Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, disproportionately funneled taxpayer money to Jewish organizations — and in particular to Orthodox groups — the Forward found in its analysis of $118 million in grants.

Now, the federal grant program faces deep cuts and changes to its procedures, The Forward reported.

Guidelines issued on February 17 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security eliminate a built-in preference for religious groups that was among the reasons that Jewish organizations were the top recipients of grants under the program. Funding for the entire program was slashed to $10 million in 2012 from $19 million in 2011.

Jewish groups, along with Christian and other groups, had lobbied for the anti-terror funding, the Forward reported, and the result was a system where three quarters of the grants went to Jewish organizations. Of the grants given to Jewish organizations, 45 percent were awarded to Orthodox groups, the Forward found, “even though only about one in 10 American Jews is Orthodox.”

The legislation and the rules defining eligibility make no mention of preferring Jewish institutions, but in practice the program could easily be viewed as a Jewish earmark.

Although some groups expressed disappointment at the reduction in funding, some Jewish groups said the changes in eligibility requirements are unlikely to affect their ability to obtain grants through the program.

“Unfortunately, we believe that Jewish institutions are objectively at high risk of terrorist attacks due to their ideologies, beliefs and mission and can well document that risk,” said David Pollock, associate executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

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