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Wrong-Headed Initiative


Diane Kunz, Brandeis Blog

September 29, 2016
 

Equal treatment before United States law and government. That is a foundational American principle. Its aspirational neutrality, usually achieved, is one reason why people from so many nations with different ethnicities and differing religious beliefs have thrived in this country. Now J Street would challenge this basic principle in the purported service of helping to bring about a two state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.  This discriminatory and wrong-headed idea must be opposed by anyone who supports an objective government of laws not ideology.

J Street calls “on its supporters and all who support a just Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement to urge the US Treasury to review the tax-deductibility status of contributions to groups working to entrench or expand Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.”[1] The rationale is that because the U.S. government has expressed opposition to Jewish settlments in the contested territories, charitable contributions that concretely aid such settlements should not be tax deductible under the U.S. tax code.

Does J Street and its allies, really want the IRS to determine which organizations supports goals and ideas that in some way oppose some aspect of federal government policy and which do not pass inspection?

Tax deductibility can be obtained by:  A community chest, corporation, trust, fund, or foundation, organized or created in the United States or its possessions, or under the laws of the United States, any state, the District of Columbia or any possession of the United States, and organized and operated exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. See here.

If so, here is a partial list of organizations that may lose tax exempt status:

Save the Children, since it aids Morocco whose annexation of parts of the Western Sahara is not recognized by international law.

SOS Children’s Villages, because it aids Turkish controlled North Cyprus, whose existence as an independent nation is recognized only by Turkey;

Unicef, because it aids Indian Kashmir and Jammu, whose borders have been contested since 1948.

Most on point, any organization which in anyway supports the BDS movement because one of BDS’ founding principles is Israel is not and cannot ever be “a state like any other.” The” Israel as international pariah” position violates U.S and well as International law.

How about domestic policy? Should donations to Catholic churches and Evangelical Christian churches be denied because their priests and ministers preach against abortion? Should donations to Islamic mosques be denied because Imams preach against gay marriage?

To ask these questions is to show how disastrous the policy J Street advocates would be were it ever to be applied. But the “peace” advocates do not see past their one-sided obsession with Israel.They are willing to jeopardize a basic American core belief that federal agencies like the IRS must treat all taxpayers, including 501 (c) 3 non-profit organizations equally, regardless of whether or not they are for or against abortion, for or against giving aid to Turkish Cyprus or for or against settlements in the West Bank When Richard Nixon misused the IRS we rightly called foul. We call foul now.

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Dina Porat
Dina Porat, a Tel Aviv University professor of Jewish History, served as head of the Department of Jewish History, the Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies, and the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism.
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