Jewish Groups Urged to Boycott Hunger Walk

October 30, 2006

Author: Peter Smith

Source: The Courier-Journal

Louisville's Jewish leaders are asking local Jews not to participate in this year's Community Hunger Walk for the first time since its founding in 1979 because some of the money raised will be handled by an agency they consider biased against Israel.

Instead, Jewish groups plan to raise funds separately this year to benefit Kentucky Harvest, which provides food for the needy. And they hope to rejoin the walk next year.

The 28th annual hunger walk, slated for Sunday, raises money for local and international causes. The walk, a project of the Kentuckiana Interfaith Community -- a coalition of local Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Bahai groups -- has in recent years drawn around 1,000 walkers and raised tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Seventy-five percent of this year's proceeds will go to local agencies that fight hunger, but the controversy surrounds an agency slated to channel the rest of the funds to an African farming cooperative. That agency, Church World Service, an American group with ties to Protestant and Orthodox churches, has been critical of Israeli actions toward Palestinians and the Lebanese.

David Kaplan, chair of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Community Federation of Louisville, said his group regrets not participating in the walk, "but we just felt that a line had been crossed and we could not really explain our participation if some of the money was funneled through Church World Service."