The Zionist Organization of America has fired an internal critic who aired concerns about the way the group has handled the recent revocation of its tax-exempt status and who referred to herself as a whistleblower in internal memos.
Orit Arfa, the Los Angeles-based executive director of the ZOA’s Western Region, confirmed to the Forward that she had been informed of her dismissal on November 19.
The group’s national vice president, Steve Goldberg, who has been strongly critical of ZOA management, accused the organization of retaliating against Arfa. “It’s absolutely retaliatory,” he said. Goldberg had spoken with Arfa and said she planned to sue.
A ZOA spokesman denied that Arfa’s firing was retaliatory. The group has simply chosen to move its West Coast headquarters to San Francisco from Los Angeles, he said, in order to cut costs.
The firing comes amid signs of increasing disarray within the ZOA, a hawkish pro-Israel group with chapters across the country. In another development, the ZOA’s Orange County branch voted to disband following the resignation of both its president and vice president. And Goldberg said that the organization has received just $700,000 in contributions in 2012.
“You have true chaos here now,” Goldberg said.
The ZOA lost its tax exemption this past February after failing to file tax reports to the IRS for three consecutive years. Upon receiving notice of the IRS sanction, the group informed major donors that it was no longer tax exempt and channeled contributions to an outside holding account pending restoration of its exempt status. But it made no public statement, arguably leaving lesser donors unaware of their contributions’ on-hold status. Even some leaders within the ZOA’s regional apparatus didn’t know the group’s exemption had been revoked until the Forward reported on it in September.