Opinion

Group that helped draft anti-BDS laws in US didn’t disclose grant from Israel…imagine if Russia did something like that

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There’s been a lot of talk about foreign governments intervening in our political process over the last few years, but some stories certainly don’t permeate mainstream discourse.

A case in point was on display this week. The Forward reported that the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) received a grant from the Israeli government for more than $100,000 last year. The IAF is a nonprofit that was established in 2007 to foster cooperation between pro-Israel forces and governments around the world. In 2014, the group helped develop South Carolina’s anti-BDS law, which prohibits state entities from contracting with groups that boycott Israel. The IAF went onto lobby 25 additional states to adopt anti-BDS measures after South Carolina’s was approved.

The IAF didn’t disclose the grant (which is probably illegal), but it’s certainly not the only such organization to take money from Israel. The Forward reports that 11 pro-Israel groups have received $6.6 million from that government since 2018. There are rules designed to try to prevent this kind of stuff, like the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). However, Israel apparently uses shell companies to maneuver around these sticky details. DC Attorney Amos Jones, who works on FARA cases, told The Forward, “They can have all the shell companies they want or whatever you want to call it. If that is a foreign organization or group of people, then they can be a foreign principal, thereby requiring persons acting under their direction inside the United States to have to register.”

Let’s run a quick thought experiment. Envision a pro-Russia nonprofit accepts a grant from Putin’s government, aligns itself with U.S. politicians, and then helps pass a number of laws that prohibit you from, say, boycotting Russian vodka over LGBTQ rights. How would United States liberals react to such a development? How many hours of programming would Rachel Maddow devote to such a story?

This example is wildly inadequate of course. In order for it to make sense as a comparison, the U.S. would have to give $3.8 billion to Russia in military aid every year. The point has been made a million times before, but it bears repeating in the wake of stories like this: people in the United States can condemn the actions of foreign governments, but they can’t generally take any responsibility for them. We are all complicit in Israeli apartheid.

This was an excerpt from our weekly politics newsletter, The Shift, where Michael Arria takes you to the front lines in the battle over Palestine in the United States. Sign up below to receive the newsletter in your inbox every Thursday.

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“How many hours of programming would Rachel Maddow devote to such a story?” Hours. Maddow never ever touches the I/P issue. Or how Israel or I lobby groups influence our elections. Israel, I lobby sacrosanct on MSNBC…all programs. Melissa Harris Perry touched these issues, but she is gone. Same for Cenk Uygar and Dylan Ratigan. Just awhile back within a three day period on Sat AM Joy Reid, and a few other MSNBC programs counter… Read more »

Sort of OT, but not really. I think Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic detailing Pres. Trumps denigration of US military service, released today, puts the clincher on it: Zionism is ready to fall in with Biden/Harris.

My favorite learnings of the week: the Palestinians have lived there for 1.4 million years (even though Homo Sapiens is about 50k years old). There is a Free City of Jerusalem and its citizens are called Jerusalemites. The Partition Plan was implemented even though it wasn’t. Florida Jews are a lot more powerful than other voters, because Israel. All Israelis are criminal trespassers and can be shot on sight and they are not allowed to… Read more »

Is the “imagine” ploy as old and tired as what about ism? the amount of outrage that any position on the I/p conflict can raise by the “imagine” moniker it’s, well it’s unimaginable. (And I’m speaking as one who readily used the ‘imagine’ button in the past and it only works on the most outraged people in the first place. Moving on….