US Indirectly Funding Israeli Settlements?

By | Mar 26, 2009
Latest, Religion

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

David Ignatius

David Ignatius has a column today (also in the Washington Post) about tax-exempt charities that donate to various Israeli settlements in the West Bank, despite US government policy not to fund them. He says,

There’s nothing illegal about the charitable contributions to pro-settlement organizations, which are documented in filings with the Internal Revenue Service. They’re similar to tax-exempt donations made to thousands of foreign organizations around the world through groups that are often described as “American friends of … ” the recipient.

But critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns. A search of IRS records identified 28 US charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007.

Ignatius lists organizations like American Friends of the College of Judea and Samaria, American Friends of Yeshiva High School of Kiryat Arba, and Hebron Fund.

The glaring hole in the logic is that giving a charity a tax exemption, of course, doesn’t actually fund anything. It’s less an economic offense than a moral and pragmatic one: Considering the delicate arguments for peace in the Middle East and the controversy that settlements inevitably stir up, do these charities still deserve the tax-exemption if they help stymie US efforts towards peace?

And in other news about the peace process, new Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu spoke yesterday to allay some fears of his hawkish tendencies. For the record, his pick for foreign minister is the famous nationalist and right-wing Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in Nokdim–a West Bank settlement.

2 thoughts on “US Indirectly Funding Israeli Settlements?

  1. If it’s actually a moral and pragmatic offense, it’s not a matter for the law. It should not be illegal for a Jew to live in the territory the international community legally awarded to the Jews to reconstitute their national homeland. For the US, some people might think it morally wrong to do what has been done to the Native Americans on Indian reservations. Would you want me to pursue a policy to interfere from here?

    I can assure you that the charitable funds fully comply with the law, moreso than all the monies NVOs have been disbursing as well as American government (taxpayers’ money) have been granting to the Palestinian Authority since the 1970s and later after Oslo which for the most part have directly and indirectly funded terror and the murder of Israelis, among them American citizens.

  2. billy bays says:

    Having lived/worked in Israel some years in the 5oties and seeing how intractable the Israeli attitude to arabs is being backed by a powerful US jewish lobby which controls congress and will murder politically any one who speaks against it-no hope for -jews decide are you americans or jews who hold america in contempt by the muslim world, by unfairness and lobby strenghth. Have you forgotten the holacaust? dont subject Palestinians to same.

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