What’s he trying to do, say that we can’t play politics with IRS?… Just tell George [Schultz] he should do it. – Richard M. Nixon, August 1972
With a great deal of sound and fury, Americans are discovering that the IRS is being used for political purposes by the Obama administration.
Readers of FresnoZionism knew this back in 2010, when we discussed (here, here and here) the way the IRS targeted the pro-Israel group Z Street when it applied for tax-exempt status. At the time, I wrote that
So, for example, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Students Association, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations all can accept tax-deductible contributions. So can the left-wing Americans for Peace Now, Meretz USA, and even the
relatively extremeextremist Jewish Voice for Peace.
Incredibly, If Americans Knew, a group dedicated to demonizing the state of Israel is also a proud holder of 501(c)(3) status. And — to my further astonishment — so is CODEPINK, whose members get arrested at anti-military demonstrations, support boycott-divestment-sanctions against Israel, invade the homes of people they don’t like, etc.
While the IRS seems to have drawn the line at Free Gaza — the people that organize the ‘flotillas’ to Gaza — they continue to allow a group called “American Educational Trust” which is a 501 (c)(3) to accept contributions and pass them on!
Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the founder of Z Street who filed a lawsuit against the IRS that year, notes that “the very first hearing in Z STREET v IRS was recently scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, July 2,  in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia.” If Marcus were not a lawyer herself and very persistent, there would be no appeal for Z Street. And need I point out that justice delayed is justice denied?
I don’t know what official reasons were given by the IRS to Tea-Party related organizations — as well, ironically, as those with the word ‘patriot’ in their names — for holding up their applications, but Z Street’s lawsuit claims that
21. [IRS] Agent [Diane] Gentry also informed Z STREET’s counsel that the IRS is carefully scrutinizing organizations that are in any way connected with Israel.
22. Agent Gentry further stated to counsel for Z STREET: “these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
Could the violation of the First Amendment be more clear? An affadavit from the IRS official in charge of the “special unit” referred to was even more Orwellian:
a. The application indicated that Z Street could be providing resources to organizations within Israel or facilitating the provision of resources to organizations within the state of Israel;
b. Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a “higher risk of terrorism.” (LR.M. 188.8.131.52.5.2(1). See also http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2008/122433.htm); and
c. A referral to TAG is appropriate whenever an application mentions providing resources to organizations in a country with a higher risk of terrorism.
This is like saying that we shouldn’t support the Boston Marathon, because terrorism happens there! And it is reminiscent of the US refusal to give refuge to Jewish victims of the Nazis because, as Germans, they were enemy nationals.
Marcus notes that the Z Street charter specifically condemns terrorism, and that Z Street has never provided funds or ‘resources’ to anyone in Israel or anywhere else. And she adds that Z Street is not the only Jewish organization to receive ‘special treatment’ from the IRS:
And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
Some say the IRS is out of control. I wouldn’t put it that way — it is under way too much control, by an administration that simply doesn’t understand the Bill of Rights.