American Jewish family linked to Levi Strauss provoked pro-Palestinian protests across US colleges: Report - Hindustan Times
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American Jewish family linked to Levi Strauss provoked pro-Palestinian protests across US colleges: Report

May 29, 2024 04:22 AM IST

The Bafrayung Fund, financed by Levi Strauss heirs, supported anti-Israel activism on more that 30 US college campuses.

One of America’s most venerable and politically active Jewish families reportedly funnelled tens of thousands of dollars to organizations to provoke pro-Palestinian riots on college campuses.

Demonstrators from the pro-Palestine encampment on Columbia's Campus barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall, where the office of the Dean is located in New York City.(Photo by Alex Kent / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)
Demonstrators from the pro-Palestine encampment on Columbia's Campus barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall, where the office of the Dean is located in New York City.(Photo by Alex Kent / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

This family, which houses a sitting US congressman and an ex-ambassadorship to Jerusalem, is essentially blessed and owes it fortune to Levi Strauss, the denim tycoons.

A recent report by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), which is a think-tank sponsored by Israel, stated that the Bafrayung Fund was the biggest sponsor of pro-Palestinian activist groups participating in college demonstrations.

It includes gifts to any group that has ever sponsored such events. It confirms that the Bafrayung Fund, headquartered in Covina, California, is consistently providing support to the Palestinian Youth Movement, which has been instrumental in recent campus encampments, as well as its allies, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center and Critical Resistance.

Each of these organizations has used “from the river to the sea” as their controversial slogan, whereas critics claim it means the destruction of Israel. However, there are those, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who refute this characterization.

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Levi Strauss scion behind campus anti-Israel protests: Report

Behind the Bafrayung Fund is 33-year-old Rachel Gelman, a Bay Area resident and scion of the Levi Strauss family, and cousin to Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY). The Fund's money comes from Gelman and the Morningstar Philanthropic Foundation, her parents' charity. Her parents are major Democratic Party donors and own a chain of publications for East Coast Jewish communities. They have long been active in organizations promoting American-Israeli relations.

Rachel Gelman's mother, Susie Gelman, was appointed last summer by President Joe Biden to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Susie Gelman's grandfather, Walter Haas, transformed Levi Strauss into a global denim brand, and her father, Richard Goldman, founded a major insurance company. Her late brother was a federal prosecutor and father to the current U.S. representative.

Susie Gelman's involvement in Jewish issues began early, meeting her husband through a youth group of the organization now called the Jewish Federations of North America. They co-own the Mid-Atlantic Media Group, publishing several Jewish newspapers.

Susie Gelman’s attachment to Israel started young, with her first trip to the country at 16. During the Second Intifada, she volunteered at a Jerusalem hospital. More recently, she served as chairwoman of the Israel Policy Forum from 2016 to 2023, using the platform to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite tensions with Israel's current leadership, the Gelmans are major supporters of the Birthright Israel Foundation, sponsoring free trips for Jewish young adults to Israel.

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Bafrayung Fund has been funded by Gelmen’s family with Morningstar Philanthropic contributing $3,470,000 between 2019 and 2022. The fund is used to promote several left-wing causes including pro-Palestinian activity.

Palestinian Youth Movement received $60,000 from it while Arab Resource and Organizing Center was given $40,000. Just recently Palestinian Youth Movement has documented on its role in the recent campus protests such as the one held at Columbia University.

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