Regulator refers case of Jewish charity to its operations team

The Jewish National Fund Charitable Trust and two affiliated charities will be looked at after a complaint by the campaign group Stop the JNF

The Charity Commission has referred the case of a Jewish charity to its operations team for further investigation after a campaign group applied to have it removed from the commission’s register.

The commission’s internal operations team – which can assess problems without a formal investigation – will look at the Jewish National Fund Charitable Trust after a complaint about the charity raised some possible regulatory issues.

The commission said the team would also look at two other charities affiliated with the JNFCT: the Jewish National Fund Educational Trust and KKL Charity Accounts.

The JNFCT is a UK-based organisation that raises funds for causes in Israel. The JNFET educates people about Israel and Judaism; and KKL drafts wills and helps people to donate to charity.

The commission said it made the referral after it considered an application submitted in March by a campaign group called Stop the JNF UK for the three charities to be removed from its register.

In its application to the commission, Stop the JNF said the three charities were racist and claimed they were "sham" charities that did not meet the commission’s public benefit requirements. A spokesman for the three charities rejected the claims and said they were unfounded.

A spokeswoman for the commission said it had considered Stop the JNF’s complaint and concluded that the three charities should remain on the register. But she said that the JNFCT would be looked at by the commission’s operations team over concerns that it failed to comply with the Equality Act 2010. She said the principal concerns were with the JNFCT but also related to the two other charities.

The spokeswoman said: "The commission reached the conclusion that the matters contained within the application do not affect the charitable status of the JNFCT, the JNFET or KKL and therefore they should remain on our register. 

"However, the application did raise operational matters of potential regulatory interest, including the restriction of the provision of services to people defined by a protected characteristic. This has been referred to the operations function."

Stop the JNF said it welcomed the commission’s decision to refer the charity to its operations team. Sofiah Macleod of Stop the JNF said: "We very much look forward to hearing how the JNF will attempt to show that its racial discrimination is for the public benefit."

A spokesman for the JNFCT, the JNFET and KKL said the charities had not yet been contacted by the commission’s operations team but they would be happy to respond to any queries about their activities.

He said the allegations made against the charities by Stop the JNF were unfounded. "We do not discriminate, and any accusations to that effect are utterly spurious."

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