Were local supporters of the Jewish National Fund dealt a bad hand when they showed up at a poker tournament and were met by protesters from the Philly BDS movement?
Not according to Marina Furman, regional director of eastern Pennsylvania for JNF. “It means we are doing something right,” she said. “If they are against Israel, they are against JNF.”
More than 200 JNF supporters attended the March 21 fundraiser at Beat Street Station, a function space in Manayunk. The event netted $100,000 for the organization, said Furman.
Best known for planting trees in Israel, JNF has broadened its work in Israel to include a wide array of environmental projects.
The international boycotts, sanctions and divestment movement, or BDS, urges individuals to use economic means to isolate Israel, a country that the movement likens to apartheid-era South Africa.
Roughly 35 members of Philly BDS demonstrated at the most recent JNF event. According to Furman, Philly BDS members have demonstrated outside a number of JNF events over the past two or three years.
A Philly BDS organizer could not be reached for comment. The group’s Twitter feed had several references to the demonstration, including one tweet that stated, “Lose the poker face! Protesting racist supporters of the JNF!”
Furman said that in a way, she takes the demonstration as a compliment.
“They know what we do in Israel plays a vital role in its security and development and infrastructure,” she said.