Sunday I discussed the way the IRS targeted Jewish and Zionist organizations that applied for tax-exempt status, in the same way that they have done to conservative groups like the Tea Party.
We know why the administration had a problem with the Tea Party, which strongly opposes its candidates and policies. But why jump on Zionists?
The mainstream media are just beginning, after three years, to notice this story, so let me help them understand it better by quoting something that I wrote back in August 2010:
In the past few months, we’ve seen the development of what could be called “the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) war.” Opening shots were fired by an Israeli Zionist student group named im tirtzu, which caused a stir when it reported that a large majority of the ‘documentation’ of Israeli ‘war crimes’ in the tendentious Goldstone report on the recent war in Gaza came from 16 left-wing Israeli NGOs, all of which were supported by the US-based New Israel Fund (NIF).
Many of these groups can only be called ‘extremist’, and they are part of the movement to delegitimize Israel. In fact, the NIF’s guidelines did not disallow funding groups that advocate ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) against Israel. Other NIF-supported groups include Arab organizations which call for the ‘de-Zionization’ of the state.
These NGOs also received millions from the European Union. The Knesset is now considering legislation to require greater transparency in funding of Israeli groups by foreign sources. NGOs are opposing it and have even asked the EU Parliament to consider this issue (talk about interfering with Israel’s sovereignty)!
There’s a cliché about poking a hornet’s nest. Did you ever hear the angry whine of, say, ten thousand disturbed insects? This pretty much describes the response to Im Tirtzu. Groups that benefited from the NIF’s largess, even the Union for Reform Judaism (NIF supports its initiatives in Israel) screamed bloody murder.
But they did more: they counterattacked. In a coordinated campaign in early July including the New York Times and J Street, anti-Zionist forces blasted what they called “pro-settler charities” and suggested that they ought not to have tax-deductible status. The Times article included this:
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.”
It is remarkable how well anti-Zionist ‘Jewish’ organizations and celebrities line up together with the anti-Israel media against anyone, like Z Street, that opposes Israeli concessions to the PLO and supports the right of Jews to live outside the Green Line. The NY Times article quoted above is particularly offensive in its bias, distinguishing between (bad) contributions to ‘settlers’ and (good) donations for ‘Palestinians’. On the day it appeared, J Street
…call[ed] on the United States Treasury Department and relevant Congressional bodies to launch thorough investigations into whether or not the organizations funding settlement activities on the West Bank named in [the] New York Times report have broken the law.
And last year, in a NY Times op-ed, the star of the Jewish Left, Peter Beinart wrote that in addition to boycotting “settler-produced goods,”
We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities.
So now we have the answer to why the Obama administration misused the IRS to punish pro-Israel groups:
The Jewish Lobby — the left-wing one — and its media lackeys, made them do it!