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

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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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Knocking another brick out of the wall. Thank you.

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… Read more »

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 –… Read more »

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… Read more »

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’ whereupon an appeal was made to the charities Tribunal The Charity Tribunal found that not only were the papers filed out of… Read more »