Tuesday, July 06, 2010

NYTimes Belabors The Tax-Exemption Issue Yet Again

In its continuing campaign the newspaper has been waging against the reconstitution of the Jewish national homeland, sanctioned by international law as legal and proper and worthy, its reporters once again deal with the issue.

But before the bad stuff, one good paragraph, short but significant:-

Of course, groups in the pro-settler camp are not the only ones benefiting from tax breaks. For example, the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the flotilla seeking to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, says on its Web site that supporters can make tax-deductible donations to it through the American Educational Trust, publisher of an Arab-oriented journal. Israeli civil and human rights groups like Peace Now, which are often accused of having a blatant political agenda, also benefit from tax-deductible donations.

Can we read then in the future an in-depth investigative piece on those groups including New Israel Fund, B'tselem, et al.?

And don't miss the great pictures.

But to the newspaper's main point:-

As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them...While a succession of American administrations have opposed the settlements here, Mr. Obama has particularly focused on them as obstacles to peace...The freeze and negotiations, in turn, have injected new urgency into the settlers’ cause — and into fund-raising for it.

The use of charities to promote a foreign policy goal is neither new nor unique — Americans also take tax breaks in giving to pro-Palestinian groups. But the donations to the settler movement stand out because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements. Tax breaks for the donations remain largely unchallenged, and unexamined by the American government. The Internal Revenue Service declined to discuss donations for West Bank settlements. State Department officials would comment only generally, and on condition of anonymity.

“It’s a problem,” a senior State Department official said, adding, “It’s unhelpful to the efforts that we’re trying to make.”

Daniel C. Kurtzer, the United States ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005, called the issue politically delicate. “It drove us crazy,” he said. But “it was a thing you didn’t talk about in polite company.”

He added that while the private donations could not sustain the settler enterprise on their own, “a couple of hundred million dollars makes a huge difference,” and if carefully focused, “creates a new reality on the ground.”

...Israeli security officials express frustration over donations to the illegal or more defiant communities.

“I am not happy about it,” a senior military commander in the West Bank responded when asked about contributions to a radical religious academy whose director has urged soldiers to defy orders to evict settlers. He spoke under normal Israeli military rules of anonymity.

Palestinian officials expressed outrage at the tax breaks.

“Settlements violate international law, and the United States is supposed to be sponsoring a two-state solution, yet it gives deductions for donation to the settlements?” said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

I'd love to know who that senior military commander is since his statement is illegal according to the military code.

As for Saeb, we do not violate any international law but fulfill it:-

ART. 5.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.

ART. 6.

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

That was done on July 24, 1922. Earlier

...in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920...the pledge contained in the Balfour Declaration concerning the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine [was confirmed]. The conference was a continuation of a previous meeting between the Allies held in London in February 1920, where it was decided, among other things, to put Palestine under British Mandatory rule...The article concerning Palestine was debated on April 24, and the next day it was finally resolved to incorporate the Balfour Declaration in Britain's mandate in Palestine..."putting into effect the declaration made on the 8th [sic.] November 1917 by the British Government and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people; it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."


Shiloh isn't on the map:


People are suggesting these groups' tax-exempt status be reviewed, just a few of the hard core anti-Israel NGOs with tax exempt status in the US. These groups can be found to be in violation of lobbying regulations, US anti-boycott laws, and may even support terrorism or terrorist organizations:-

Friends of Sabeel
Middle East Children's Alliance
AJ Muste (gives to ISM)
Open Society Institute
Deir Yassin Remembered
Advocacy Project
Rachel Corrie Foundation
Birthright Unplugged
WESPAC (also gives to Adalah NY)
Groundspring.org (gives to Electronic Intifada)
Center for Constitutional Rights
Friends of Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Vanguard Foundation (passthrough org)
Palestinian Right to Return Coalition
Ford Foundation (gives to many questionable groups)



This just in:

Hello Ethan,

I just read your article on the issue of settlement funding. It is quite a thorough and well-written article and articulates the issues well. However, I have two comments:

1. You refer to our organization donating towards temporary housing in Maskiot and make it sound as if it were an illegal community. And that providing housing is not a humanitarian cause. In fact, the temporary homes in Maskiot were for the refugees from the Gush Katif disengagement who had been shuttled from school dormitory, to run-down guest-house, to caravans in horrible condition nearby for years. They had received permission from the government to settle in Maskiot and had already received permission to build permanent homes in Maskiot, when an article in your newspaper created a political crisis between the US and Israel and the Israel government temporarily halted construction, which had already begun, in order to appease Washington. Because of the severe humanitarian crisis of the Gush Katif refugees, who were quite literally home-less, CFOIC did, indeed, donate funds to assist in bringing one of the mobile homes to Maskiot. This was not about keeping the community going – this was about giving people a place to unpack and settle, start their kids in school, where they were ultimately going to live anyway, by Israeli government decision. Indeed, the permanent homes in Maskiot are currently under construction despite the building freeze, because the Israel government has recognized that this is a totally different issue.

As you well know, I made myself available to you for questions, which you never really took advantage, except to arrive on my doorstep without an appointment. If you were going to refer to this donation, I would have expected, at the very least, that you would have asked me about it first in order to hear this explanation.

2. I was also surprised that you did not quote anyone who addresses the issue of mixing politics with the requirements of the IRS code in defining humanitarian donations, which, more than anything, is the crux of the matter. Mixing that issue with those charities who, unfortunately, don't follow the rules, is mixing apples and oranges. You can be a charity who donates to the most legitimate cause in America, but if you don't file returns or don’t properly disclose what you are doing, you will and should get into trouble.


Sondra Oster Baras
Director, Israel Office
CFOIC Heartland

And here's someone's opinion of one of the reporters on this story:

Todd Gitlin watches New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg prove once again that he has no business in journalism with a story headlined "Obama’s Personal Ties Are Subject of Program on Fox News Channel"...For Rutenberg, it is still the case that opinions on the shape of the earth differ.

We have a message for Jim Rutenberg: The game by which he goes nudge-nudge-wink-wink to his informed audience while pulling his punches so the rapid-read scan-the-paper commuters get the message the Republicans want is over. He should resign, donate all his money to the poor, and take up a life of anonymous service to others deep in the Amazon.


Anonymous said...

This article has probably been in preparation for weeks. Its release now – like B’tselem’s report – was clearly meant to rain on Netanyahu’s parade in Washington.

Anonymous said...

This is 4,900 word hatchet job that goes beyond the NYT’s normal animosity on many levels:

It is clearly geared to encourage Administration pressure on Israel and stricter application of IRS regulations.

Its limited reference to pro-Palestinian tax exempt organization is lip-service. No mention of those Jewish/Israeli organizations who reap tax exemptions to attack Israel.

It is full of bad journalism, especially unsubstantiated and implied material.

Daniel said...

Under normal standards of decency, the intermarried Sulzbergers would at least try to make up for their lack of Holocaust coverage.

Anonymous said...

would the NYTimes dare do a story on churches in Arizona and LA, etc. that provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, - and these illegals are quite criminal unlike whether or not a Jewish community is "illegal" - in order to get them into trouble and remove their tax exempt status or does the paper simply "pick on the Jews"



Beginning Wednesday afternoon, a Catholic church in downtown Los Angeles and a Lutheran church in North Hollywood each intend to shelter one person as part of the "New Sanctuary Movement."

A handful of churches in other U.S. cities plan similar efforts in the months ahead to spotlight the plight of illegal immigrants.

"We want to put a human face to very complex immigration laws and awaken the consciousness of the human spirit," said Father Richard Estrada of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Los Angeles, where one illegal immigrant will live.

Organizers don't believe immigration agents will make arrests inside the churches.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has not tried to arrest Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant who has taken shelter at a Methodist church in Chicago since August.

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice declined to say if agents would attempt to arrest others who take sanctuary in churches, although she did say agents have "the authority to arrest those who are in violation of our immigration laws anywhere in the United States."

Participating churches in San Diego, Seattle, Chicago and New York won't initially house illegal immigrants. Instead, leaders will provide legal council, accompany people to court hearings and prepare plans to house them in churches if authorities try to deport them.

In New York, religious leaders gathered at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Paul the Apostle and said their promise of sanctuary could include financial assistance, legal help and physical protection, if necessary.

Anonymous said...

In their story on the Holyland Foundation that was found guilty of multiple charges of funding Hamas the Times reported (almost sadly) that Muslims in the U.S. had mixed feelings about the decision:


Some saw the prosecution of the foundation primarily as evidence of anti-Muslim bias by the American government, while others suspected that the charity might indeed have operated as an overly politicized money funnel for Hamas in the 1990s.

The contrast between the characterization of the Holy Land foundation and of charities that help Jewish residents of Yehuda and Shomron is stark.