The Philanthropic-Zionist Complex
By Michael Barker
We live in a world of unnecessary illusions and unnecessary death, but there is no doubt that capitalism must be eradicated to dispel the ongoing spectre of mass slaughter. The ruling classes Necessary Illusions must be dismantled: however, to successfully replace “our” current system we must first identify the root causes of the problems we face. In this regard it is vital to observe that the military-industrial complex is not the only enemy of anti-capitalist activists, as arguably our most insidious enemy is what I refer to as the Philanthropic-Zionist Complex. Instead of being composed of die-hard war-profiteers, like for example Haliburton, the main purveyors of the latter form of violence mask their militarism under a veil of humanitarianism, thus rendering most of their potential critics inert. One significant, but by no means only proponent of such profitable propaganda is the Chicago real estate mogul Lester R. Crown. By reviewing the Crown dynasties outstanding commitment to charitable Zionism this article will throw some light on an oft neglected side of elite power.
Lets begin by sketching out the Crown families profitable involvement with one of the United States most powerful military contractors, General Dynamics – a group that a long history of dealing with “Israel’s Apartheid [weapon] contractor,” Elbit Systems. Lester Crown’s father, Henry Crown, first took a “controlling block of stock” in General Dynamics in 1959, and when Henry passed away in 1990 (having retired some years earlier) Lester was already serving as their chairman; although at present the only member of the Crown family serving on General Dynamics board of directors is Lester’s son James S. Crown (who is also a board member of JPMorgan Chase). Given the Crown’s families interest in charity and war, it is fitting that The New York Times’ obituary for Henry noted that his “personal style was reported to be self-effacing and elusive”; adding that he “would portray himself as a ‘sand and gravel man’ of limited education, veiling his moves and quietly consolidating his power.” Thus given Henry and the Crown family’s ability to work quietly and methodically behind the scenes, it is important to explore the extent of their influence.
Since 2004 Lester Crown has been the chairman of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a group whose longstanding board members include Michelle Obama, the present First Lady of the United States; and whose president (Marshall Bouton) came to the post after spending two decades working with the Asia Society in New York. The Chicago Council was created in 1922 and their founding president was former US Secretary for War (1909-11) Jacob Dickinson, so it is perhaps fitting that before Lester became chair of the Council his predecessor had been the former CEO of Boeing Company, Philip Condit. This coincidence is especially relevant with respect to this article as Noami Klein notes: “Israeli defense giant Elbit… partnered with Boeing to construct the Department of Homeland Security’s $2.5 billion ‘virtual’ border fence around the United States.” The current chair of Elbit Systems is Michael Federmann, an individual who In addition to making generous profits from death is presently the chair of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, having taken on this role in 2009 when he replaced recent General Dynamics board member Charles Goodman. Keeping the Crown the family in the picture, one should add that Goodman’s late wife (Suzanne Crown) was one of Lester Crown’s cousins, and Goodman himself is presently vice-chair of the investment firm, Henry Crown and Company.
Michael Federmann and Lester Crown solidify their Zionist interests by acting as representatives of the Jerusalem Foundation, an organization which ostensibly “seeks to create a just society for all citizens of Jerusalem” and was founded by the well-known Zionist the late Teddy Kollek (the Mayor of Jerusalem from 1965 until 1993). Best illustrating the disturbing links between Zionism and “good work” (environmentalism in this case) we can turn to former Jerusalem Foundation board member Richard N. Goldman, who used to be a president of the Jewish Community Federation — a group whose current CEO is the former AIPAC executive director, Thomas Dine (1980-93). Goldman commitment to charitable Zionism means that he is also a member of the national council of the conservative free-market group, The Conservation Fund, a member of the board of counselors of the eugenic-inspired Save the Redwoods League, and in 1990, along with his wife Rhoda Goldman (of Levi jeans fame), he founded the world famous Goldman Environmental Prize. Given such ideological serviceable chartable work it should come as no surprise that the former propaganda Director of the Jerusalem Foundation is now the chief Israel emissary to the tree-planting Jewish National Fund, which is better known as the principal Zionist “colonialist agency of ethnic cleansing.”
But it’s not all roses and Zionism at the Jerusalem Foundation, as weapons manufacturers and big oil are represented on the Foundations board as well. For instance Elbit Systems board member, Avraham Asheri, sits on the Jerusalem Foundation’s board of governors; while the Foundations emeritus chair, Joseph Vardi, is the cofounder of major Israeli defence contractor, NESS TSG, is the former chair of the Israel National Oil Company, and has served as an adviser to the CEO’s and the chairmen of Occidental Petroleum Corporation. These few connections, however, do not do justice to the full extent of Vardi’s elite networking, and to sample just a few of his other ties we might note that he is a member of the board of governors of Hebrew University, was Consul for Economic Affairs of the State of Israel in New York, a cofounder of Israel’s largest venture capital firm (Pitango), and is a former board member of the US-based State of Israel Bonds.
This is not just to say that the Jerusalem Foundation is simply concerned with oil, guns, and Zionism, as their members include leading human rights activists too!: for example, another member of their board of governors is Ruth Gavison. Gavison helped cofound the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (in 1974), serving for many years as its chairperson (and most recently as their president, 1996-99); and at present she is senior fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, whose mission is “based on the Van Leers’ vision of Israel as both a homeland for the Jewish people and a democratic society, predicated on justice, fairness and equality for all its residents.” In the latter organizations case, what this means in reality, is justice for Zionists. Thus the Insitute’s hononary chair (Zelman Cowen) is an advisor to the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, and their chairman is Dutch banker Tom de Swaan. It just so happens that Tom is the vice-chairman of the supervisory board of the global retail chain, Royal Ahold, where he serves alongside the former executive vice president and CFO of Sara Lee Corporation, Judith Sprieser. Sara Lee is of course famous supporter of Israel, and one of their current board members is James S. Crown, the president of Henry Crown and Company.
Remaining on the trail of the Dutch industrialist, the late Bernard Van Leer (1919-1958), we might notice that his major philanthropic legacy is the Van Leer Group Foundation. Here we find Foundation trustee Amos Mar-Haim who serves on the Jerusalem Foundation’s board of governors and is the former deputy chairman of the Israel Corporation. Sitting alongside Mar-Haim on the Van Leer Group Foundation’s board of trustees is former senior partner at McKinsey & Company, Wilfred Griekspoor (who also served as vice chairman of Doctors Without Borders Holland, see footnote # 6), a board member of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (Rien van Gendt), and human rights activists extraordinarie, Peter Bell. Given the fascinating (read: sickening) relationship between the Philanthropic-Zionist Complex and human rights it is worth briefly looking at Bells background in more detail.
For a start, Peter Bell is a former board member of the imperialist Human Rights Watch (1988-95) and currently serves on their Americas advisory committee; while more recently, in 1999, Bell helped found the Business Humanitarian Forum, which works to “bridge the gap of understanding and promote cooperation between humanitarian organizations and private business, encouraging both sides to work together to solve complex development problems.” Other notable individuals involved in founding this dubious group included notable “humanitarian” warriors John C. Whitehead and former US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.
More recently, Bell has served as the president of the inhumanitarian CARE International, a body whose current chair of Lydia Marshall, a former managing director of Rockport Capital Incorporated. This latter finance group belongs to Peter Ackerman, who also runs the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict which employs the liberal Zionist “peace activist” Stephen Zunes as the chair of their board of academic advisors. Bell formerly used to serve alongside Ackerman and Marshall on the board of CARE USA, and presently sits with him on the international management advisory group of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Finally, returning to the Crown family, it is noteworthy that Susan Crown has been a board member of CARE USA since 2006, and is also the vice-president of Henry Crown and Company.
Lester Crown’s daughter, Susan Crown, is the former chair, now board member, of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, the “prominent Hollywood Zionist” who became “inspired” to take charitable action while making Schindler’s List (for a detailed examination of Hollywood Zionism, see “Hollywood’s Corporate Conservation Collaborators”). Now known as the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, their honorary co-chairs are media mogul’s Lew Wasserman and Edgar Bronfman, Jr. (the latter of whoms father is the former president of the World Jewish Congress), and Lester Crown’s wife Renée Schine Crown. Lester and Renée’s daughter, Susan, is also senior mentor for the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown fellowship program (as is their son James S. Crown). This program is an exemplar of elite social engineering, and was set up in 1997 to “develop” the “next generation of community-spirited leaders, providing them with the tools necessary to meet the challenges of corporate and civic leadership in the 21st century.” To be chosen for this program is a sign of future (and previous) success, as only twenty “accomplished entrepreneurial leaders (between the ages of 25 and 45)” are selected each year to “hone their skills in values-based leadership.”
Lester Crown serves on the board of overseers of Aspen’s Henry Crown program, but amongst the leading capitalists serving alongside him the most interesting is Margot Pritzker (who similarly sits alongside Lester on the board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs). Pritzker is a committed new humanitarian which is evident by her serving on the committe of the Chicago chapter of Human Rights Watch, and by her service on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a group that apparently provides “non-sectarian disaster relief and long-term development assistance worldwide.” Call me cynical, but this type of language reminds me somewhat of the noxious discourse adopted by the Zionist-linked Project for a New American Humanitarianism. Not surprisingly other board members of this “aid” Distribution Committee include Ronald Lauder and Stanley Chesley, who are respectively the chairman and president of the ethnic cleansing outfit, the Jewish National Fund. This is not to imply that the Committee’s humanitarian aid is used to directly kill people, far from it, it does help some people, if only to help legitimize the murder of Palestians.
It is fitting that Margot should serve alongside a vertiable orgy of democracy-manipulating elites on the advisory board of a group called the America Abroad Media which was founded in 2001 and apparently aims “to harness the power of media to inform America and the world about the critical international issues of our time.” Particularly notable advisors include former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, Peter Ackerman, John C. Whitehead, Richard Armitage, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Martin Indyk, and Vin Weber.
The political repercussions of the lack of critical commentary regarding the power of the Philanthropic-Zionist Complex are tragic, and sadly “Zionism is alive and well, even in some of the most self-proclaimed radical or progressive political spaces in the United States.” This is no accident of nature. Rather it is the logical result of a highly sophisticated propaganda campaign: a Zionist strategy which “strategically uses the discourse of ‘civil rights’ to promote Zionism” while “promoting extremely right-wing, white supremacist viewpoints in relationship to the Arab world in general and Palestine in particular.” This cynical strategy “impacts every community’s access to resources in that individuals, organizations, or communities of color who oppose Zionism risk defunding or slander.” The Philanthropic-Zionist Complex is a more than capable ally of the Zionist Power Configuration, and taken together these two bodies play an integral function in contributing to what Edward Herman and David Peterson refer to as The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2010). In a sorry reflection on the state of progressive activism, Herman and Peterson conclude that: “The inability of any sector of the U.S. establishment to recognize fully that the human and material destruction in Southeast Asia and the Middle East are the consequence, not of accident, much less error, but of deliberate policies that produced this result, ranks among the greatest intellectual and moral failures in U.S. history.” Only by challenging the legitimacy of all aspects of Zionism’s genocidal legacy will anti-capitalist activists be able to unite to work to systematically build viable human-centered alternatives that can end our worlds “politics of genocide.”
——————————————————————————–  While Noam Chomsky’s work on propaganda is very useful (see Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies), his work on the influence of liberal foundations and Zionism leaves much to be desired: for criticisms, see Michael Barker, “Noam Chomsky and the Power of Letters,” Swans Commentary, December 15, 2008; James Petras, “Noam Chomsky and the Pro-Israel Lobby: Fourteen Erroneous Theses“, James Petras Website, June 4, 2006; Jeffrey Blankfort, “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict“, Voltaire, September 20, 2006 (see 2010 radio interview with Blankfort); M. Shahid Alam, “Chomsky on Oil and the Israel Lobby“, Dissident Voice, January 31, 2009.
 The Philanthropic-Zionist Complex is by no means unique and its works alongside the secular Non-Profit Industrial Complex, building upon decades of experience of the United States leading so-called liberal foundations. For two seminal critiques of elite philanthropy, see Robert Arnove (ed.), Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (G.K. Hall, 1980); Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003). Liberal foundations and elite social engineering more generally have also been heavily critiqued by William Domhoff who is the coauthor along with Richie Zweigenhaft of Jews in the Protestant Establishment (Praeger, 1982).
 Lester Crown notes that: “On the national front, the most noteworthy Council [on Global Affairs] activity was the landmark study of the importance of agricultural development to reducing global hunger and poverty, made possible by a generous grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that became the blueprint for the Obama Administration’s global food security initiative.” (For a critique of the Gates Foundation’s take on feeding the poor, see “Bill Gates as Social Engineer: Introducing the World’s Largest Liberal Philanthropist” – ironically this conference paper was presently at the Hilton Hotel (Brisbane, Australia), a hotel chain that Lester Crown has a major financial stake in.)
Here it is worth adding that the Asia Society provides an early example of a “democracy promoting” organisation (i.e., it served as a conduit for CIA funding). Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III to foster understanding between Asians and Americans, the Asia Society’s current president and CEO, Vishakha Desai, is married to former Asia Society president, Robert Oxnam, who in turn is a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Asia advisor to Bill Gates.
 The chairman of the US board of the Jerusalem Foundation, Alan Hassenfeld, is the former CEO of toy manufacturer Hasbro, an emeritus board member of the imperialist Refugees International, and is a board member of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy. (For a critique of corporate “philanthropy,” see “Corporate Social Responsibility as a Political Resource.”) US board member of the Jerusalem Foundation and former US Deputy Secretary of State, John Whitehead, cofounded the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy in 1999 (with Peter Malkin), and notable honorary chairs of this group include David Rockefeller and Paul Volcker.
 Current Occidental Petroleum board members include former US Ambassador to Israel, Edward Djerejian; the powerful right-wing Christian Zionist Spencer Abraham; and Occidental Petroleum’s chair and CEO is Ray Irani, who serves on the advisory board of the Center for Middle East Public Policy (where he mixes with the likes of Frank Carlucci).
 Jewish National Fund president and AIPAC luminary, Stanley Chesley, is a former board member of the State of Israel Bonds (also known as the Development Corporation for Israel); while the former CEO of State of Israel Bonds, Nathan Sharony (1994-97), is a board member of military giant Elbit Systems.
Pitango Venture Capital cofounder, Rami Kalish, used to serve on the board of directors on the Zionist non-governmental organization, the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (now known as the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education). Needless to say this organization might be better known as the Center for Enabling War and Legitimating Intolerance as their advisory board includes the infamous right-wing Zionist Daniel Pipes. That said, another board member of the “Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace” is Jean-Christophe Rufin, the former vice-president and cofounder of Doctors Without Borders (also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF). This implies that some limited form of peace might possibly be promoted at the Center. Yet a closer look at Rufin’s background suggests that his inclusion on their board is another Zionist smokescreen, as Rufin is currently the president of Action Against Hunger, a group whose most notable board member is the former vice chairman of Rothschild Inc., Yves-André Istel. On top of this, it is interesting to highlight the fact that Séverine Autesserre — who served as an advisor to the imperialist Center for Preventive Action in 2008, see “Preventing independent Action in the Congo” — acted as an advisor for Action Against Hunger’s work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (between 2005 and 2007), and prior to this worked in a variety of jobs (including as a consultant for Doctors Without Borders, in the Congo and elsewhere (between 2001 and 2004).
Doctors Without Borders has come along way since their founding in 1971, as Bernard Kouchner, another cofounder, “left MSF in 1979 to form a break-away organization called Medecins Du Monde” which “later developed the doctrine of the ‘right to intervene’” (Richard Seymour, The Liberal Defence of Murder, p.172.) Initially MSF and Rufin did not follow this imperialist evolutionary pathway and they were one of the few humanitarian organizations that subjected their colleagues to critical scrutiny; for an example, see former MSF research director Fiona Terry’s Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action (Cornell University Press, 2002). However, things appear to have changed in recent years, as the former recent chair of MSF’s US advisory board is Richard Rockefeller (the head of Rockefeller Brothers Fund), while another notable advisory board member is the treasurer of Goldman Sachs Group, Elizabeth Beshel.
 The longstanding CEO of Sara Lee, John Bryan (1975-2000), is the former chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a board member of Goldman Sachs, and serves on the international board of governors of the Peres Center for Peace (along with the likes of Desmond Tutu, Henry Kissinger, and Lester Crown).
The chair of Royal Ahold’s supervisory board is Rene Dahan, who is the former president of Mobil Oil, and who until recently served as a board member of Exxon Mobil.
 One might add that Steven Spielberg is a trustee of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where he serves alongside Bruce Ratner (who is a member of the board of overseers of the CIA-linked International Rescue Committee), and Howard Rubenstein (who is an adviser to the right-wing human rights outfit AmeriCares).
 The executive director of the Henry Crown fellowship program, Peter Reiling, had prior to joining the Aspen Institute in 2004, served for eight years as the president and CEO of TechnoServe – a group formed in 1968 to “grow businesses and industries in the developing world.” TechnoServe’s two largest funders are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, closely followed by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations (Peter Ackerman even rears his nonviolent power head again as a TechnoServe member). At present TechnoServe’s work is being directed by Bruce McNamer who used to be an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.
 Margot Pritzker’s husband is Thomas Pritzker, an individal who amongst his many other corporate affiliations is the chair of Global Hyatt Corporation. Thomas’s cousin, Nicholas Pritzker, who is vice-chairman of Global Hyatt Corporation, is a former chair of the biotech corporation Eos Biotechnology, and is the co-vice-chair of Conservation International (see “When Environmentalists Legitimize Plunder”). Nicholas’s wife Susan is in turn a board member for Mother Jones magazine (see “Mother Jones and the Defence of Liberal Elites”). Here one might add that James S. Crown’s wife, Paula Hannaway Crown, who is a principal of Henry Crown and Company, presently serves on the board of directors of Conservation International, and is a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art (a body whose honorary chairs are Ronald S. Lauder and David Rockefeller).
 Nadine Naber, Eman Desouky, and Linda Baroudi (for Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, San Francisco Chapter), “The Forgotten ‘-ism’: An Arab American Women’s Perspective on Zionism, Racism, and Sexism,” In INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (South End Press, 2006), p.98, p.110. As Soraya explains: “Since Zionists have a long history in progressive circles in the US even though their stance on Palestine contradicts their stance on other political issues, they play a role in the funding of non-governmental organizations. Many activists fear publicly supporting Palestine because a precedent has already been set that you will lose your funding or you will not be funded at all if you support Palestinian liberation.” (p.110) For a related discussion of funding problems, see “Engineering Human Rights in the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”
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