Archive for August, 2010

Obama and Nixon would agree on this

Monday, August 30th, 2010

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

Recently I wrote (“First Amendment, anyone?“) about the difficulties a Zionist organization called Z-Street was having in getting tax-deductible  — 501(c)(3) — status from the IRS. Here are some excerpts from a suit filed against the IRS by Z Street (the whole complaint is here):

14.   In a letter dated May 15, 2010, IRS Agent Diane Gentry, to whom the Z STREET file had been assigned, sent an IRS Letter 2382 requesting additional information to aid her in her review of Z STREET’s IRS Form 1023 (the “Application”).  Z STREET, by its corporate counsel, submitted a response on June 17, 2010, providing all of the requested information, most of which had already been provided in Z STREET’s initial application, including information about each of Z STREET’s board members.  In fact, detailed personal information about each Z STREET board member had to be supplied to the IRS three times, a number in excess of the experiences of  Z STREET board members for any other board on which they sit…

21.   Agent 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.”

23.   Z STREET, and its President, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, have publicly taken positions on issues relating to Israel that are inconsistent with positions taken by the Obama administration.

24.   The IRS’s admissions by Agent Gentry make clear that the IRS maintains an Israel Special Policy governing the processing of applications for tax exemption by organizations which are believed to be operated by persons holding political views inconsistent with those espoused by the Obama administration, and that the Israel Special Policy mandates that such applications be scrutinized differently and at greater length, and therefore that they take longer to process than those made by organizations without that characteristic, or even that the tax-exempt application might be denied altogether on that basis.

In my previous post, I mentioned some other organizations which had received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, including unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing case CAIR and ISNA, as well as Codepink, a group which regularly accuses the US of war crimes and has called for support of the ‘Iraqi resistance’ and US military deserters.

This new policy is apparently not only being applied to organizations that are explicitly Zionist, like Z Street. It seems that just being a Jewish group is enough. Consider this anecdote, from a reliable source:

I told the CPA who handled the 501 exemption for my organization a couple of years ago about Lori’s lawsuit.  Today he sent me an email telling me that his office is working on a tax exemption for a major Jewish religious organization that holds prayer services and Torah classes where each center files for its own exemption. There is no mention of Israel in its application.  They rec’d a letter from the IRS with the following questions:

Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?  Describe your organization’s belief system toward the land of Israel.

Need I say that the determination of tax status on the basis of the degree of agreement to administration positions is as clear a violation of the First Amendment as can be imagined? Let’s look at some of the background to this.

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.”

We’ve learned that on matters relating to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Times, J Street and the Obama Administration speak with one voice. And they are telling us in no uncertain terms how they feel about ‘settlers’. But Z Street does not give money to settlements (even if it did, the argument to deny 501(c)(3) status would be tortuous). It’s an advocacy and educational group.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration — like the Nixon Administration — seems prepared to use the IRS as an instrument to punish dissenters like Z Street.

The same Administration that passionately defends the absolute right of a Muslim group of questionable ideology and funding to build a mosque in a highly sensitive location in the US — some might call it ‘unhelpful’ — has done its best to prevent Jews from building even an extra bedroom in East Jerusalem or Judea/Samaria.

Now it is using its massive power to silence American Zionists who disagree with it.

Zionists are on his list, too.

Zionists are on his list, too.

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NY Times hits bottom, sticks

Sunday, August 29th, 2010
One view of the NY Times

One view of the NY Times

One would have thought that the New York Times could not possibly descend any lower, with regular columnists like Roger Cohen and Nicholas Kristoff — and then they strike the semi-solid layer of excrement at the bottom of the bubbling pool of filth in which they live and feed, and give a platform to Ali Abunimah.

Market forces will soon flush away this shitty little newspaper, as it well deserves. It can’t happen too soon.

Abunimah’s arguments are barely worth discussing. He draws  an analogy between Hamas and Sinn Fein, suggesting that the initial refusal of the British to negotiate with the latter can be compared with Israel’s shunning of the former.

Of course Catholic nationalists did not intend to rid Northern Ireland of Protestants, nor did they believe that God commanded them to murder Protestants wherever they could be found. They did not believe that Ireland was a Catholic waqf and that the only solution to the presence of any Protestants on Irish soil was violent jihad (Hamas says all this and more about Jews and Israel).

It is one thing to enter negotiations with a group that has committed terrorist acts. It’s another entirely to talk to one that believes that it is their religious duty to kill you, all of you.

It was possible to get the IRA to declare a cease-fire and to “permit Sinn Fein to enter into inclusive political negotiations” because there was an intersection between outcomes acceptable to Sinn Fein and the British government. There is no such intersection possible between Israel and Hamas, whose bottom line is simply that there must be no Jewish state — indeed, no non-subjected Jews — in ‘Palestine’.

He writes:

Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right of return for refugees?

You must give Abumimah and his friends credit for chutzpah: first, they invent a ‘right’ — the repatriation of the descendants of refugees from a war that their own leaders caused — that has never existed in history, then they breed a whole population in misery for years to make a demographic weapon of mass destruction out of them, and finally they demand that they be allowed to use it to end the Jewish state. What will remain for them to ‘recognize’?

Naturally, he believes that the reason the US was tough on the British but will not get tough on Israel is the nefarious Jewish (OK, he says ‘Israel’) Lobby. Hamas knew about the Jewish Lobby all along. Here’s what they wrote in their charter:

For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained … With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

…They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it…

Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying. — Hamas Covenant, sections 22, 28, 32

Abunimah, like Hamas, knows what he wants: no more Israel. Israel, one hopes, knows how to deal with Hamas.

But what does the New York Times want?

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A world without Baronesses

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

News item:

PARIS — France wants the European Union to have a seat at the table during next week’s start of US-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Washington.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said it would be “too bad” if the EU were locked out — noting the bloc’s political involvement in the region and its role as a top contributor of financial aid to the Palestinians. — Jerusalem Post

Let’s see. We have the Obama Administration, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Now we need the EU? Let’s invite J Street, too. After all,we need someone to be ‘pro-Israel’.

Not only is the EU a ‘top contributor’ to the Palestinian Authority, it also finances numerous non-governmental organizations in Israel whose primary function seems to be to delegitimize or even destabilize the Jewish state.

And the EU doesn’t shrink from trying to directly intervene in the internal affairs of Israel. For example,

Abdallah Abu Rahmeh, an organizer of the weekly Friday protests at Bil’in of the West Bank security fence, was convicted Tuesday in an Israeli military court of inciting protesters to attack Israeli soldiers and for holding protests without a permit. He will be sentenced next month. The 39-year-old schoolteacher has been jailed since December.

EU representatives attended every day of the trial, and the body’s foriegn policy chief, Catherine Ashton, released a statement Wednesday expressing concern at the conviction, saying, “The possible imprisonment of Mr. Abu Rahmeh is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non-violent manner.”

“The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal,” it quoted her as saying in a statement. — JTA

Where to start?

The weekly protests are anything but non-violent, with Arab and international organizers doing their best to physically destroy the separation barrier, and to injure or provoke Israeli soldiers and police who are trying to defend it. One of their goals is to place international ‘activists’ in harm’s way in order to generate sympathy overseas for their cause.  In several cases — for example the recent incident in which American student Emily Henochowicz lost an  eye when she was hit by a teargas canister — they have succeeded too well.

The land that Ashton refers to is not ‘Palestinian land’. It is land that happened to be east of the line that divided Israeli from Jordanian troops in 1949, and by international law it still awaits disposition by a peace treaty between the combatants — despite the fact that Jordan decided in 1988 to give it to the PLO — a terrorist organization.

Here’s an analogy: You and I both claim to own a car. You take possession of it by force (1949), I take it back (1967), and you transfer your claim on it to the Mafia (1988). Then (2010), the EU objects to my driving it because “it belongs to those Sicilian guys.”

Our original claim, by the way, is pretty good, consisting of the original League of Nations Mandate which calls for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Clearly this doesn’t mean that all of ‘Palestine’ of the Mandate must become the Jewish national home, but it certainly doesn’t limit it to any given part (not to mention that right off the bat the British gave away a good 70% of it to their ally, Abdullah, to create the state of Transjordan).

As an aside, if the area is in dispute and you don’t want to create facts on the ground, then nobody — not Jews and not Arabs — should build anything on it. Saying that only Jews are forbidden to build looks tacky.

Some people think that the EU, being a postnational entity itself, doesn’t take kindly to Zionism. World citizens like the Baroness Ashton think that nation-states based on ethnicity or even religion — although Zionism is not essentially a religious concept, clearly Judaism has something to do with it — are passé and dangerous. Nationalism, they would say, is the main cause of war.

They are wrong. These days, the most dangerous ideology is a universalist and anti-nationalist one: radical Islam.

But note that the proposed state of ‘Palestine’ is a nation-state based on ethnicity with an established religion.

Also, I thought I’d mention that in a world without nation-states there wouldn’t be any baronesses.

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Crazy college students irrelevant to issues surrounding Islam

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Tuesday’s incident in which a Muslim cabdriver was attacked in New York is being treated as emblematic of the controversy about the Ground Zero mosque:

The police said Mr. Enright had been drinking for much of Tuesday afternoon before getting in the cab and exchanging pleasantries with the driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, 44, who is originally from Bangladesh. He asked Mr. Sharif if he was Muslim and greeted him with “salaam aleikum,” an Arabic greeting that means “peace be upon you.” He even asked Mr. Sharif how his celebration of Ramadan was going before he began cursing at him and slashing him in his face, arm and hands with a knife, Mr. Sharif told the police. — NY Times

Here are some of the things being said about it:

  • It was the fault of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing talk radio hosts who have stirred up Islamophobia
  • The perpetrator was a right-winger
  • No, he was a left-winger
  • It’s all about the mosque — this shows it should be built
  • It’s all about the mosque — this shows it should not be built

How about this: he was both drunk and crazy, and picked an issue that resonated in his drunk and crazy brain. It is entirely irrelevant to the mosque issue.

I spent a few months driving a cab in my youth and met more than a few crazy drunk passengers. None of them attacked me, but it could get scary.

Compare this to the Fort Hood shooter, whose history and actions showed a clear ideological motivation for his crime. As far as I know, the official explanation is still that he was mentally ill.

There is a huge amount of hysteria being voiced in connection with the mosque. Could we have some rationality? Here are a few good reasons not to build it at that location:

  • It will make a significant number of the 9/11 families unhappy
  • It will serve as a symbol of victory to radical Islamists, and be a selling point for the radical viewpoint in the ongoing struggle to define normative Islam
  • It will worsen relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in New York
  • Moving it will not injure Muslims or in any way prevent the free exercise of their religion

People are remarkably ready to accuse mosque opponents of horrible crimes, even of being Republicans. In an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Russell Simmons calls opposition to the Mosque “fear-mongering or hate speech”. He mentions Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in case anybody is insufficiently horrified.

Although a Democrat without political ambitions, I was accused of ‘hate speech’ myself after I pointed out that Imam Abdul Rauf refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization, and that Hamas’ self-described raison d’être was to wipe out the Jewish state and kill its Jewish inhabitants. Hate speech? I’d call it stating facts that are highly relevant to the question — which we are entitled to ask — of who Imam Abdul Rauf really is.

Here’s another point which has been forgotten in the controversy: insofar as Islam includes a blueprint (sharia) for social and political relationships, law, economic activity, etc. and prescribes this blueprint as the best possible form of social organization, everybody — Muslims and non-Muslims — has a stake in deciding to follow the prescription or not. This is a legitimate matter for discussion.

Additionally, the radical interpretation of Islam — which is rapidly gaining ground in the world — has a very aggressive and ambitious political program.  It is by no means the province of a few extremists, but promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliates among Sunnis, and Iran among Shiites. One might even say it seeks world domination. Talking about this is not hate speech, but rather a conversation that could bear on our culture’s self-preservation.

We had our own “Islamophobic hate crime” a few miles up the road from here in Madera, where some anti-Muslim signs were posted at an Islamic center. This behavior was mean and stupid, and while probably the act of harmless adolescents… one never knows.

But this kind of thing, or mentally ill college students, should not distract us from a serious consideration of  Islam, radical Islam, and its relationship to Western culture.

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First Amendment, anyone?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The rules for 501 (c)(3) tax status — which allows the donations of US citizens to a non-profit organization to be tax-deductible — are remarkably lax. According to the IRS,

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

There is no requirement that a charity not take political stands, only that it is not ‘substantially’ a lobbying organization and that it does not support or attack specific candidates.

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 extreme 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 Code Pink, 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!

But there is apparently a problem for pro-Israel organizations:

Z STREET, a pro-Israel non-profit corporation, filed a lawsuit in federal court today charging that the IRS violated the organization’s First Amendment rights.  The suit was filed after Z STREET was told by an IRS official that its application for tax-exempt status has been delayed because an IRS policy requires consideration of whether a group’s views on Israel differ from those of the current Administration.

“Not only is it patently un-American but it is also a clear violation of the First Amendment for a government agency to penalize an organization because of its political position on Israel or anything else,” said Z STREET president Lori Lowenthal Marcus, a former First Amendment lawyer.   “This situation is the same as if the government denied a driver’s license to people because they were Republicans or Democrats. It goes against everything for which our country stands.”

Z STREET filed for tax-exempt status in January of this year and, despite having met all of the requirements for grant of this status, the application has been stalled.  An IRS agent told Z STREET’s lawyers that the application was delayed because of a Special Israel Policy that requires greater scrutiny of   organizations which have to do with Israel, in part to determine whether they espouse positions on Israel contrary to those of the current Administration. [From a Z Street press release. My emphasis]

I wonder if Code Pink’s views “differ from those of the current administration?”  Let’s see:

Code Pink demonstrator, San Francisco 2008

Code Pink demonstrator, San Francisco 2008

Even the present administration should be embarrassed by this one!

Even the present administration should be embarrassed by this one!

Your tax dollars at work. Berkeley, 2007.

Your tax dollars at work. Berkeley, 2007.

First amendment, anyone?

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