Some time ago, Phil Weiss noted that one of the more successful settler fundraising vehicles was the Central Fund of Israel, which raised $12-million in 2007 on behalf of some of the most extreme of West Bank settlements. The Fund breaks out its support in various categories, one of which I found extremely interesting: security. The Fund’s 207 IRS 990 form lists over $500,000 spent to support settlement security. If you think about what would fall under this rubric, it would be guns, ammunition, K-9 attack dogs, night vision equipment, communications equipment: all the paraphernalia that reinforce the reign of terror that settlements impose in their Palestinian neighbors. In fact, it’s legitimate to ask whether some of these settlements might not have used donations raised through the Central Fund for guns and other weapons used to attack, maim and even kill Palestinians, though I should be clear that I haven’t yet seen any documentary evidence to support this. But it seems only reasonable to assume that this is a highly possible, and even likely scenario.
Clearly, Jack Teitel, accused killer of Israeli police, Palestinian farmers, and bomber of a Hebrew University professor, along with other colorful crimes, is a product of the U.S. ultra-Orthodox movement which funnels these millions to settler Judea. But we must ask even more particularly, after he made aliyah to Shvut Rachel, did some of those donations, directly or indirectly, support his terror “lifestyle?” Did he or his family receive any financial support whatsoever from these charities (which often fund needs of specific settler families). Have any of these funds supported that other settler terrorist living at Shvut Rachel, Asher Weissgan? Have they supported Yigal Amir or efforts to free him from prison?
This is not so far-fetched a question since there is a pro-settler group, Honenu, which advocates for the liberation of convicted Israeli terrorists like Amir from prison. The group has received Central Fund donations.
In addition, Susan Wexner gave $600,000 to support the work of YadKatif, which opposes the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza under the guise of supporting the living expenses of allegedly indigent evacuated settlers. Should not the IRS legitimiately question why U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing a huge donation to an organization opposed to the policy of a democratically elected Israeli government?
U.S. law forbids tax-exempt organizations from funding terror. In fact, this was one of the arguments used to shut down Islamic charities in this country. I’m set to argue what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Let’s insist that the IRS use the same rigor in scrutinizing some of the leading non-profit settler funding vehicles. Beside the Central Fund, they include the Hebron Fund (supports one of the most extreme settler enclaves), Ateret Cohanim (“buys” Palestinian property to further the Judaization of East Jerusalem), Shuva Israel (supports illegal outposts), PEP Endowment for Israel, and others listed in Jonathan Cook’s fine overview in The National.
Americans for a Safe Israel and Chabad have sponsored U.S. fundraising tours for Israeli Kahanists like David Ha-Ivri, who was a close friend of another settler mass murderer, Eden Natan Zada. AFSI also sponsored a Manhattan synagogue talk by Nadia Matar, leader of Women in Green in which she called for Mahmoud Abbas’ assassination. When will we put a stop to this insanity? Our government claims it wants to play a constructive role in seeking an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, yet we allow U.S. funds to support the vilest and most violent Judean opponents of that very policy.
We should also note the irony that the Israeli foreign ministry bellowed about the Breaking the Silence NGO which received EU funding on behalf of its project documenting IDF human rights abuses during the Gaza war. Avigdor Lieberman kvetched that foreign governments had no right interfering in domestic Israeli politics. Apparently, the flagrant intervention in Israeli domestic politics represented by the tens of millions poured down the throats of extremist settlers like shnapps after Shabbat davening, exists in some different, and kosher category.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.