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JNF Gives Execs An Extra Month To Repay ‘Illegal’ $700K Loans

The Jewish National Fund appears to have pushed back its deadline for two top executives to return $700,000 in loans they received from the organization.

Following a Forward exposé and a letter from the New York State Attorney General, the JNF announced that its chief executive officer and chief financial officer would pay back the money “in 30 days” — by the end of August.

But tax filings recently released by the group push back the deadline for repayment to the end of September.

A spokesman for the JNF did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the discrepancy.

New York law bars charities from making loans to their officers. The JNF denies that the loans it extended to CEO Russell Robinson and CFO Mitchel Rosenzweig to help them buy real estate were illegal.

Tax filings for the fiscal year ending last September, which appeared online in the past week, show that Robinson had paid off $67,000 of his $525,000 loan by the fall of 2016. The filing shows that Rosenzweig had paid off only $2,000 of his $185,000 loan, but a note included in the filing said that he had paid an additional $20,000 that was incorrectly recorded.

“Both loan balances will be separately audited and management expects the balances to be paid in full by September 30, 2017,” the filing states. That date marks the end of the organization’s 2017 fiscal year.

Though the JNF has said that the CEO and CFO are “voluntarily” returning the loans, the Attorney General’s office demanded in its letter to the group that the men return the money by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, the tax filings also show that the JNF has continued its controversial support of a museum in the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion. In previous tax years, the JNF acknowledged a $500,000 grant to the museum and visitor’s center at Kfar Etzion. In the latest filings, the group reported another $100,000 to the museum.

American JNF CEO Russell Robinson, left, and board president Jeffrey Levine in a promotional video for an upcoming JNF conference. Image by YouTube

Continuing trends reported last month by the Forward, the JNF gave only a small portion of its grants to the historic Israeli organization with which it shares a name. Just 1% of the $26.5 million in grants made by American JNF in the 2016 fiscal year went to the Israeli JNF.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected] or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.

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