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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Anti-Israel Groups Find Ways ....

A number of anti-Israel groups have found ways -- all illegal -- to get US taxpayer money.

A "Wespac Foundation," apparently based in Westchester County north of New York City, is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) entity. Not only does it conduct its affairs under federal and local tax exemptions, but it also hands out receipts to its contributors which these then use to claim income tax exemptions. Which makes Uncle Sam, and you and me, financial contributors to Wespac's manifold anti-Israel activities. And these activities are largely devoted to demonizing Israel. " In particular," it says on its website, "we support the call by over 200 Palestinian civil society organizations for punitive measures including boycotts, divestment, and sanctions...."

One interesting aspect of Wespac is that it serves as the "501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor" for other anti-Israel action groups: it collects funds from donors, issues tax receipts, and then distributes the money to others who are like-minded. (In law, the "sponsor" and the recipient, in this kind of relationship, are held to be one legal entity, each being responsible for the actions of the other.)

One of these recipients is Adalah-New York, shown demonstrating in the picture above. A-NY advertises its financial relationship with Westpac on its website, where the visitor is invited to "Support Adalah-New York through our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, Wespac."

On February 21, 2010, A-NY -- some forty young folks, lily-white -- demonstrated at Brooklyn College, urging the public to boycott the Israel Ballet. A-NY describes its demonstration:
Protesting ballerinas dressed in blue and white tutus (Israel's national colors) and wearing masks performed a waltz that transformed into a military drill march. As the orchestra switched to a two-beat march, the dancers lifted their masks to reveal camouflage on their faces.
Another group for which Wespac acts as "fiscal sponsor" is "Israeli Apartheid Week," whose aims and activities are similar to A-NY. IAW, too, advertises its relationship with Wespac on its site.

In its Form 990 submission to the IRS, Wespac describes its mission as follows:
"Education" here is the key. The IRS Code does indeed grant tax exemptions and other privileges to entities devoted to "education." But the IRS is also careful to delineate "education" from the kind of propaganda practiced by Wespac and the groups that it finances. Here are the relevant portions from the IRS guidelines (Rev.Procedures 86-43) that describe prohibited behavior by entities claiming to advance "education":
1 The presentation of viewpoints or positions unsupported by facts is a significant portion of the organization's communications.
2 The facts that purport to support the viewpoints or positions are distorted.
3 The organization's presentations make substantial use of inflammatory and disparaging terms and express conclusions more on the basis of strong emotional feelings than of objective evaluations.
4 The approach used in the organization's presentations is not aimed at developing an understanding on the part of the intended audience or readership because it does not consider their background or training in the subject matter.

Update, March 2: a Google search "Wespac, Fiscal Agent" reveals still a number of other anti-Israel entities for which Wepac acts as "fiscal agent." Among these there is the Palestine Freedom Project

for my complaint to the IRS, please click HERE

READ: Lee Kaplan's article on how anti-Israel terror groups defraud the IRS

READ: Gerald Steinberg's up-to-date (7/11/10) op-ed piece on how anti-Israel groups receive funds through IRS-registered organizations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Radical Chic of Ms. Naomi Chazan; or Pride Precedeth the Fall

Ms. Naomi Chazan
President, New Israel Fund

Mada al Carmel, another group funded by the NIF, authored the "Haifa Declaration." Here are a few gems from that document: "Towards the end of the 19th century, the Zionist movement initiated its colonial-settler project in Palestine. Subsequently, in concert with world imperialism ... it succeeded in carrying out its project, which aimed at occupying our homeland ... The Zionist movement committed massacres against our people ... the State of Israel enacted racist land, immigration, and citizenship laws [a reference to the Law of Return] ... Israel carried out policies of subjugation and oppression in excess of those of the apartheid regime in South Africa." Israel Harel, Haaretz correspondent
Old Leonard Bernstein had a funny thing going -- a spot of radical chic -- with muscled Black anti-Semitism. More recently, a Jewish American university and a Jewish American college president did it with an anti-Israel Palestinian group in Jerusalem.

But now a new radical chic scandal has exploded in the Israeli press. It seems that the New Israel Fund , an ostensible pro-Israel charitable group, has diverted substantial funds to a number of radical anti-Israel groups. The details are given in a long, detailed, sober Report issued by the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu. (The IT report includes only groupings that contributed to the notorious Goldstone Report but does not mention other anti-Israel groups supported by NIF, for instance Mada al Carmel.) In turn, Im Tirtzu is being denounced, almost comically, by the NIF and its political supporters: McCarthyism ! ... Fascism !

[OK -- I cannot resist a small aside on the idiocy of these two epithets. 1) Those who use "McCarthyism" today, generally ignorant of the historical context of 1950's Soviet espionage and the crude backlash against it, imagine that the "victims of McCarthyism" had been totally innocent, totally loyal Americans. 2) Those who use the term "Fascism" here: what in fact do they think ? That right-wing Israelis today, like the Italian confederates of Hitler in WWII, are out to destroy democratic government ? It is true that some criticism of NIF has crossed the borders of good taste, but this hardly amounts to the capital crimes alleged by the extreme Left ]

Pride goes before ruin, arrogance before failure... (Prov. 16:18, new JPS translation)

But back to the NIF and Ms. Naomi Chazan, its current president. Some ten years ago I sat in an audience of American Jews whom she addressed in Jerusalem. Her message, as I recall it, was that Israel alone is to be blamed for the failure to achieve peace with the Arabs. She was impatient with us. At one time she explained that she is a political science professor and that therefore she can tell us a thing or two about how things really are. Nobody was much impressed with that argument, but the academics in the audience could hardly keep from laughing out loud.

Now, after much criticism of her handling of NIF funding, the consequent cancellation of her visit to Australia, and her dismissal from the Jerusalem Post, she again insists on her professorial authority: "As a politics professor, I know how to read reports," she says to Haaretz, denouncing the IT study. But in the same interview she also makes an assertion that completely destroys her credibility, as it destroys the credibility of those of her supporters who make the same argument: "We really don't support every single thing these organizations say, but we support their right to say it."

The reference here is to Voltaire, who is often thought to have said, but apparently never did, that
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire or not, this is a noble sentiment which is more often quoted than followed. And it is sometimes used disingenuously, as it was by Chomsky in his connection with the Holocaust-deniers. It is used disingenuously here by Ms. Chazan:

1) There is nothing in the tradition of Voltaire, nor in that of the First Amendment, that suggests an inherent right to be financed by those who disagree with you. Does the right to free speech involve a right to receive money from your opponents ? Surely a professor of political science knows the answer to that one ? The Voltaire principle, in other words, cannot explain NIF financing of kooks.

2) If the Voltaire principle demands, as Ms. Chazan tells us she believes it does, the financing of unpopular viewpoints, she would be obligated to finance right-wing viewpoints as well. But where in the list of NIF recipients are there groups of right-wing settlers on the West Bank ? Where are the followers of the late Rabbi Kahane on NIF lists ? Again, it is obvious that the Voltaire principle, pace Ms. Chazan, cannot in fact be what motivates her or her followers.

Then there is the business of NIF financing by the Ford Foundation. Millions go from the FF to NIF each year, five million in 2008 alone. Part of this money is (indirectly) US taxpayer money, which the FF receives in great quantities through a variety of tax benefits. It is obvious to me that without such US-based funding, many of these far-left groups in Israel could not exist at all.

Ms. Chazan won't like me for this, but I do think that old Henry Ford, wherever he may be up (or down) there, might not be altogether unhappy to see where his money is going today. Long before Adolf Hitler was heard from, old Henry published "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in his Dearborn Independent.

UPDATE (Feb. 17, 2010) The Organization "NGO Monitor" calls on the New Israel Fund to draw "red lines" to prevent the financing of anti-Israel propaganda. See the NGOM request HERE

UPDATE (February 24): Read the comprehensive report by David Bedein in the Jewish Week on the NIF scandal. Click HERE

READ: Professor Gerald M. Steinberg's analysis: NIF And the Addiction to Power