I’ve always been proud of the Jewish obligation to give tzedakah. It’s one of the distinctions that sets Judaism apart from other religions of the world. The command to make the world a better place by donating charity is really noble. But this admirable impulse is being perverted by Jewish settlers.
You and I and every U.S. citizen are subsidizing Israeli settlements. No, not because of direct U.S. government funding. But because we’re allowing pro-settler tax exempt groups to fundraise here in the U.S. and subsidizing every gift that’s made.
David Ignatius recounts in today’s Washington Post:
A search of IRS records identified 28 U.S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007.
Given the fact that U.S. government policy opposes settlements and finds them “unhelpful” to the peace process, why are we being so “helpful” to the settlers?
Here are some of the biggest charitable groups involved in funding settlements on the backs of U.S. taxpayers:
One of the Israeli organizations that has led the way in developing this area of East Jerusalem is called Ir David, or City of David. Like other pro-settlement groups, it has an active fundraising effort in the United States. According to Form 990s filed with the IRS, Friends of Ir David raised $8.7 million in 2004, $1.2 million in 2005 and $2.7 million in 2006.
The group’s primary tax-exempt purpose, according to the IRS filings, is: “To create a charitable fund to provide financial aid & other reasonable assistance to benefit the Jewish people of the Old City of Jerusalem. To teach about the history and archeology of the biblical city of Jerusalem. To offer aid & assistance for education, housing & the rehabilitation of distressed properties.”
…According to IRS records, the Hebron Fund donated $860,637 in 2005 and $967,954 in 2006 for “social and educational well-being”; the fund’s online mission statement makes clear this is for Israeli settlers inside the city. The Hebron settlement of Kiryat Arba received $730,000 in 2006 from a group called American Friends of Yeshiva High School of Kiryat Arba.
Ignatius doesn’t even mention the Central Fund for Israel, apparently an even more successful settlement charity than Ir David, which raised $12-million in 2007 alone (approximately $30 million between 2004-2007) and is supported by some of the biggest names in the American Jewish community including former Bear Stearns CEO Ace Greenberg, James Tisch, Michael Milken, Irving Moskowitz ($370,000 in 2004), Alan Slifka, Larry Zicklin, Gil Glazer, and Kirk Douglas. And another real eye-popper of a donor is Shari Arison, Israel’s richest citizen.
The Fund was founded, and is run by the Arthur Marcus family. A Fund vice-president (son of the founders?) is Itamar Marcus, a former Shin Bet officer and founder of the militantly anti-Arab Palestine Media Watch. Those who wish a tax deduction for donations to PMW are directed to the Central Fund. So in part, this is a convenient way to both fund a family member’s pro-settler propaganda work AND allow donors a tax-deduction. Though it does seem questionable for someone who is a Central Fund board member also to receive funding for PMW from the charity.
Women in Green, another militant pro-settler group founded by Nadia Matar, also funnels its donations through the Central Fund. Phil Weiss reported last week that Matar spoke at a N.Y. synagogue and advocated the assassination of Mahmoud Abbas.
So it’s possible Ignatius’s $33-million is at least double that. Phil Weiss developed the Central Fund story, which unfortunately no one in the Jewish media was interested in publishing.