National Lawyers Guild and human rights activists call for IRS investigation into charity status of Jewish National Fund

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on 15 Comments

The following press release was issued by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee and the Stop the JNF Campaign:

Today, Palestinian Land Day, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) submitted a regulatory challenge to the IRS requesting an investigation into the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on grounds of discrimination and contravention of U.S. policy.

In a legal complaint accompanying the regulatory challenge, the NLG outlined several reasons why the IRS should revoke the JNF’s tax-exempt status, including the fact that the organization  does not have a charitable purpose and engages in activities that violate US policy and international law.

The regulatory challenge is part of a larger international Stop the JNF Campaign that seeks to end the JNF’s role in Israel’s continuing displacement of Palestinians. Efforts targeting the JNF are part of a growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. The campaign is calling for people to take part in Days of Action from March 30-April 18 (Tax Day) to pressure the IRS to respond to the regulatory challenge and launch an investigation into the JNF.

The JNF’s mandate is to promote racist and discriminatory policies such as forcibly displacing Palestinians from their lands to make way for Jewish-only housing developments, including inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders.. The JNF’s support for settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem also means its activities violate longstanding official  U.S. policies against settlements, as well as international law.

“The IRS has an obligation to revoke the JNF’s status because of its involvement in displacing Palestinian Bedouins from the Negev Desert and elsewhere, and because of its support for illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” said Andrew Dalack, one of the co-chairs of the NLG’s Palestine Subcommittee and member of the Guild’s International Committee. ”How can the IRS certify with a straight face that the JNF is organized for a charitable purpose when it engages in conduct that violates international law and well-established U.S. foreign policy?“

Founded in 1901, the JNF is a quasi-governmental Israeli agency that has played a major role in the dispossession of the Palestinians people, planting forests to help cover the reality of the more than 400 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed when Israel was created in 1948. Today the JNF continues to play an important role in the dispossession of Palestinians in both Israel and the occupied territories.

“The JNF and it’s Transfer Department in the early 1900s was responsible for removing Palestinians from Palestine,” said Kristin Szremski, director of media and communications for American Muslims for Palestine. “And today the JNF is still planting forests to erase those depopulated Palestinian villages and helping to establish settlements on Palestinian land, in direct contravention of U.S policy and international law. They should not have tax-exempt status.”

The complaint was filed on Land Day because on this day Palestinians commemorate the day in 1976 when Israeli troops killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were peacefully protesting the appropriation of their land.

“For nearly 70 years Palestinians have been resisting Israel’s continued theft of our land,” said Nick Sous of the US Palestinian Community Network. “So many Palestinians have been directly impacted by Israel’s stealing their land with the support of the JNF and it is shameful that the IRS actually awards people who donate to support these illegal actions by allowing them to get a tax write-off.”

“One can find little blue JNF boxes in many Jewish households and so many of us put our pennies and dimes into them because we were told we were contributing money to a worthy cause,” said Sylvia Schwarz, of the Stop the JNF Campaign and a Fallen Donor. “We were not told that the JNF is instrumental in removing Palestinians from their homes and denying them their right of return. There is nothing charitable about this.”

Download the legal memo regarding the regulatory complaint: NLG Complaint to IRS regarding Violations by the Jewish National Fund
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15 Responses

  1. JWalters
    March 30, 2016, 7:49 pm

    Knocking another brick out of the wall. Thank you.

  2. Dan Walsh
    March 30, 2016, 10:02 pm

    From its earliest days the JNF used posters to promote its various fictions such as that historic Palestine was empty of inhabitants and that all that was needed was for Jewish immigrants to come and “redeem” the land. The Zionist policy towards the use of posters was discussed at the highest policy levels:

    “Commercial propaganda essentially aspires to achieve the same goal we are trying to achieve, and that is to arouse as many people as possible for a known purpose to do something they would not have done without the propaganda; buy some given product, prefer a certain well-known firm. …We also wish to cause the large Jewish multitudes to remember the JNF at all times.”
    Source: Karnenu (Our Fund) Year 3 (1926), no. 5-6, p.5

    “We must inundate the Jewish people with slogans and pictures, to rivet their attention, to create an atmosphere of unrest…[to distribute the pictures and slogans] in every place a Jew sets foot in: in communal centres, lodges, places of business, society and union centres, the offices of charity organizations, mutual aid societies, rabbinical offices, libraries, theatres, bath houses and rest houses, shelters, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, synagogues, seminaries, schools, doctor’s waiting rooms, restaurants, hotels, pensions…leave no place where there is no illustrated poster with a clear and brief text….”
    Source: Karnenu (Our Fund) Year 4 (1927), no. 1, p.6

    This poster by acclaimed Zionist poster artist, Franz Krausz (he created the now iconic originally-Zionist-poster-now-Palestinian-nationalist-property-poster, “Visit Palestine”
    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/remixvisit-palestine) no Palestinian villages or people are depicted: only a scene of latent fertility that merely “awaits redemption by the people of Israel”:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/redeems-the-land-of-israel-for-the-people-of-israel

    One can follow graphically the evolution of the JNF’s various colonization and land exploitation projects by viewing its posters thematically, such as these which all depict happy Jewish children in some nation-building activity such as:

    Building terraces with stones that might have come from destroyed Palestinian villages:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/and-build-our-village-with-joy-and-pride

    Planting trees and shrubs that might mask de-populated and/or destroyed Palestinian villages:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/and-we-will-set-down-roots-here

    This JNF poster exudes the expansionist colonial attitude of Zionism with its clarion call to settle the Galilee shown here as almost impossibly lush and inviting with no trace of Palestinian history or presence anywhere to be seen:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/on-to-galilee

    The JNF’s use of posters to propagandize to Jewish communities around the world grew from the four point Basel Program of 1897 and the JNF took seriously the call to “inundate the Jewish people with slogans and pictures”.

    View 300 historic JNF posters here:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/jewish-national-fund

  3. JLewisDickerson
    March 31, 2016, 12:06 am

    This morning on Palestinian Land Day, the Stop the JNF Campaign and National Lawyers Guild (NLG) together submitted a regulatory challenge to the IRS requesting an investigation into the charitable status of the Jewish National Funds (JNF) on grounds of discrimination and contravention of U.S. policy.

    Please consider signing the petition to amplify calls to the IRS to revoke the JNF’s tax-exempt status! We need signatures to pressure the IRS to investigate!

    ■ PETITION – http://org.salsalabs.com/o/641/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19467

  4. justice48
    March 31, 2016, 3:48 am

    The Legal Complaint is very careful with the facts such that it sometimes underestimates JNF violations. For example, JNF confiscated over 2 million donums of Palestinian refugees’ land in 1949 and 1950, not one million as in the report. JNF actively directed Haganah (IDF) operations in 1948 to dispossess Palestinians of lands coveted by JNF and coordinated with IDF a coherent plan for ethnic cleansing. Details are in
    Financing Racism and Apartheid: JNF Violation of International and Domestic Law:

    http://plands.org/pdf/JNF%20Report.pdf

    and

    https://www.academia.edu/5294971/Financing_Racism_and_Apartheid_the_Jewish_National_Fund_s_Violation_of_International_and_Domestic_Law

    This is not to mention their recent role in the infamous Prawer Plan designed to dispossess Palestinians of their land in Beer Sheba, which was withdrawn after protests in 31 cities around the world, perhaps temporarily until it is dressed up in a new garb.

  5. HarryLaw
    March 31, 2016, 5:37 am

    It is to be hoped that this complaint fairs better than a similar one in the UK against JNF. A complaint made to the charity Commission and subsequent appeal were rejected because the complainant had not provided any evidence to back up the complaint and that the complainant did not have ‘standing’ http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/17132/stop_the_jnf_campaign_goes_to_charity_tribunal_to_argue_for_removal_of_jnf_charities
    whereupon an appeal was made to the charities Tribunal
    The Charity Tribunal found that not only were the papers filed out of time but that the complainant also lacked standing, see procedural issues JNF appeal in this roundup .http://www.bwbllp.com/file/bwb-charity-commission-charity-tribunal-pdf
    Must confess I have not followed this up closely so any other information would be appreciated.

  6. YoniFalic
    March 31, 2016, 6:22 am

    It does not look like much of an effort to challenge unlawful grant of tax exempt status to racist and pro-genocide pro-Israel groups.

    A more forceful approach more likely to have negative consequences for such organizations would directly challenge the IRS in district court under a theory like competitive advocate standing.

    http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2872&context=flr

  7. talknic
    March 31, 2016, 6:27 am

    There’s nothing Jewish about JNF lies!

    http://wp.me/pDB7k-Yr

  8. genesto
    March 31, 2016, 12:01 pm

    Every time I visit my stepdaughter’s house and see the JNF contribution can, I cringe. While my Jewish wife is enlightened on the subject (thanks to me), my stepdaughter and her husband remain unabashed Zionists. In the interests of keeping peace, I keep my mouth shut and, if her children (two small boys) ask me to contribute, I gently demur and change the subject.

    I do intend one day, however, to tell the boys about what’s behind this fund so that, hopefully, they will investigate for themselves the history of Israel and come to their own, independently determined understanding of the issue. I’ve been able to start this process with the children (both in their early 20’s) of my stepson (also a Zionist) and it’s starting to pay off. I do run the risk of permanently alienating my two stepchildren. But, the liberation of their children from the yolk of Zionism makes it worthwhile.

  9. Talkback
    April 2, 2016, 7:37 am

    “The JNF and it’s Transfer Department in the early 1900s was responsible for removing Palestinians from Palestine,”

    This is a great reminder that it is absolutely ahistorical to assume that the expulsion of Palestinians (the Nakba) didn’t start back then, but in 1948.

    Imagine a White National Fund which tries to buy every US company to replace all nonwhite workes with white workers in order to create a white and democratic State of America. This is exactly the basic mindset of Zionist supremacists, whether they are Jewish or not. And the fact that the US and especially Obama supports this is proof enough that there is no intention to challenge supremacism at all.

  10. HarryLaw
    April 3, 2016, 4:28 pm

    Just when you think it could get no worse.
    A major charity organization has its funding cut off by the British government after its sponsored an anti-Israel program.
    Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) said the British government would no longer fund “War on Want” for inciting anti-Israeli sentiments.
    London took the step after the charity partially sponsored the Israeli Apartheid Week, which was marked across the UK in February. The annual event was aimed at raising awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and demanding its boycott.
    The charity, an advocate of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, frequently criticizes the Tel Aviv regime for war crimes, ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
    Reacting to the developments, “War on Want” has blasted the British government’s move.
    The charity says supporting the rights of Palestinians fits squarely with its work. It has also justified its anti-Israel campaign, saying that Tel Aviv has subjected Palestinians to systematic discrimination and abuse.
    The British government has banned all public bodies from joining the boycott campaign against Israel. http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/04/03/458950/UK-Israel-BDS-War-on-Want/

    • just
      April 3, 2016, 4:52 pm

      I just read about it @ Haaretz. It does not pass the smell test @ all. More BS being ‘Telegraph’ed by the $$$ PTB, imho.

      “Britain Reportedly Cuts Funding for Charity Behind ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’

      The Telegraph newspaper also reports it has obtained recordings of anti-Semitic comments at events held at prestigious universities, in addition to calls for Israel’s destruction.

      The British government has halted funding to the “War on Want” charity for its sponsor of events accused of promoting hatred and violence against Jews, the Telegraph reports.

      The charity helped pay for “Israeli Apartheid Week” …

      War on Want reportedly received some $370,000 (260,000 pounds) from Britain’s Department for International Development in the past two years, the newspaper writes.

      A spokesman has said that department funding for War on Want has ceased except for a small project in Northern Ireland.

      However, in response, War on Want dismissed the report, saying it was a “fabrication.”
      John Hilary, the group’s director said “War on Want has not sought any UK government support for its operations for a number of years now, so it is absurd to suggest that we have had our funding ‘pulled’. The insinuation that we have been criticized by the government for standing up for the rights of the Palestinian people is equally bogus. We will be contacting the Telegraph to help it set the record straight.”

      At a rally sponsored by War on Want, a speaker was said to have alleged there was a “rumor” that Israelis were harvesting dead Palestinians’ organs, the paper reported.

      In a related development, the newspaper says it has obtained undercover recordings of events where academics and others from prestigious universities have expressed anti-Semitism, demands for Israel’s destruction, or support for terrorism.”

      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1.712465?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

      hmmmmmmm….. Really? Wanna bet that anti- Corbyn folks are behind this?

      • MHughes976
        April 3, 2016, 5:27 pm

        I’d be surprised to find that War on Want had been in receipt of UK government funding. I’m sure that it’s not the favourite NGO among Conservative ministers and that Israel Apartheid Week is regarded with high disdain in high places.

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