a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

A loss for human rights: Madoff scandal hits JEHT

Posted by Thomas Nephew on December 17th, 2008

The JEHT Foundation is a little known foundation in New York that has quietly been at the forefront of human rights and civil liberties since 2000, by underwriting important yet underfunded and sometimes unpopular work for criminal justice, international justice, juvenile justice, and fair elections.  “Thanks” to Bernard Madoff, they’ll have to shut down:

The JEHT Foundation, a national philanthropic organization, has stopped all grant making effective immediately and will close its doors at the end of January 2009. The funds of the donors to the Foundation, Jeanne Levy-Church and Kenneth Levy-Church, were managed by Bernard L. Madoff, a prominent financial advisor who was arrested last week for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars.

The Foundation was established in 2000. Its name stands for the values it holds dear: Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. It supported programs that promoted reform of the criminal and juvenile justice systems; ensured that the United States adhered to the international rule of law; and work to improve the voting process by enhancing fair representation, competitive elections and government transparency.

The JEHT Foundation Board deeply regrets that the important work that the Foundation has undertaken over the years is ending so abruptly. The issues the Foundation addressed received very limited philanthropic support and the loss of the foundation’s funding and leadership will cause significant pain and disruption of the work for many dedicated people and organizations. The Foundation’s programs have met with significant success in recent years – promoting change in these critical areas in partnership with government and the non-profit sector. Hopefully others will look closely at this work and consider supporting it going forward.

JEHT President Robert Crane, still looking shell-shocked, explains more in this video.

The foundation has helped fund all kinds of notable efforts — major ACLU chapters, the Crimes of War project, International War Crimes Conferences, seminars on international law and courts, Human Rights First, and the Center for Justice and Accountability, to name but a few, awarding grants in excess of $24 million (by my count) between 2002 and 2008 for international justice efforts alone.  Annual grant totals in recent years averaged around $4 million.  The JEHT headquarters have also served as a meeting place; recently, for example, the foundation hosted a conference about human rights litigation strategies and current cases, with discussion even touching on how to bring Bush administration figures to justice.

JEHT’s funding and support for efforts like these will be sorely missed.  For what little it’s worth, here’s my thanks to them and the Levy-Churches for their work, and my condolences for their loss.

UPDATE, EDIT, 12/18: Welcome Sideshow readers! — wish I had better news for you. For a spreadsheet summarizing and detailing JEHT’s grants between 2002 (not 2001) and 2008, click here. The “details” part of the worksheet (click a tab at the bottom of the page) provides brief descriptions of each grant, and links to the organizations or schools involved.

2 Responses to “A loss for human rights: Madoff scandal hits JEHT”

  1. Nell Says:

    This is such depressing news.

    The collapse of Madoff’s fraud has hit a number of Jewish philanthropies very hard; I was unable to open the JTA story linked at TalkingPointsMemo on my intermittent, sketchy dialup, but I’m sure it’s a collection of similarly bleak accounts.

  2. » Blog Archive » Offsetting the Madoff effect Says:

    [...] A loss for human rights: Madoff scandal hits JEHT [...]

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