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All The Tax-Exempt Charities

Pushback against NYT article commences

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In the hours since the New York Times published its 5,000-word blockbuster detailing how U.S. law has allowed more than $200 million to be donated, tax-exempt, to American charities that aid Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line, the dominant and most persuasive counter-narrative to emerge is: Tax law exempts donations to nearly all charities, for reasons that have nothing to do with the particular substance of specific charities’ work.

Or, in the tongue-in-cheek words of Slate blogger Tom Scocca, “The secular government of the United States, barred by fundamental Constitutional principles from involvement in religion, has goals and policies that are not identical to the goals and policies of certain religious organizations in the United States. It is as if the church and the state were somehow separated or something.”

NGO Monitor emailed a press release detailing more than a dozen U.S. charities, for which donations are also tax-exempt, that promote “anti-Israel agendas, demonization, and ‘one state’ policies th[at] single out Israel.” These include the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, Birthright Unplugged, the Rachel Corrie Foundation, International Solidarity Movement, and Free Gaza Movement. (The Times, as well as my post, noted that donations to this last group, which helped sponsor the flotilla, are tax-exempt).

“The scale of funding for these organizations is at least comparable to the $200 million in donations over the past decade,” NGO Monitor asserts.

The corollary to this counterargument goes like this: Since money that goes to these groups is just as tax-exempt as money that goes to groups with completely opposite agendas; and since, as the article reports, pro-settler charities have been long known to accept tax-exempt funds; then why did the New York Times decide to publish a nearly 5,000-word exposé on the front page on the day that Prime Minister Netanyahu made his first friendly trip to the White House in an unusually long time? That question, of course, answers itself. The follow-up—has the Times earnestly, appropriately attempted to drive the conversation, or inappropriately, non-objectively inserted itself into the conversation?—is something readers will have to answer for themselves.

Religious Groups Do Religious Things [Scocca]
Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank [NYT]
Earlier: U.S. Donations to Illegal Outposts Are Tax-Exempt

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David says:

Marc,

Thank you for balancing out your reporting on this very touchy subject.

Anyway, I think it would be a smart idea if Tablet Mag brought up the subject of whether the American Jewish community supports J Street or AIPAC.

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/illinois-ninth-district-for-jews-a-choice-between-aipac-and-j-street/

I think you know where I stand on this issue.

David says:

FYI

I know Tablet has brought up Joel Pollak in the past. But I think it would be interesting commentary for this magazine if you brought up the subject of a more active and vocalize Jewish Republican movement in this country.

a. can you imagine the IRS going after the Roman Catholic Church, and others, involved in the New Sanctuary Movement protecting real illegal immigrants – and not arguably policy problematic Jewish communities in the Jewish national homeland which the US has always agreed anyway is a final status negotiations item? Or the NYTimes publishing an expose on the funding involved by Christians in this and other concerns?

b. there are loads of far-left wing Jewish groups with questionable funding procedures or issues such as: do they act as foregin agents for EU countries from which they receive quite major funding? Isn’t Peace Now perhaps the most un-humanitarian, un-charity organization around in the real work that they do that would justify their tax-exempt status in that it only engages in political work with no schools, clinics, social welfare projects, etc. that the foundations and groups in the NYTimes article covers actually do?

c. so, do we open up all to investigation?

Another example of the problem back in September 2006:

“Christian conservatives are enlisting churches in eight battleground states to register voters, gather crowds for rallies and distribute voters’ guides comparing the candidates’ stands on issues that conservatives consider “family values.”

This election year, however, the religious conservatives are facing resistance from newly invigorated religious liberals and moderates who are creating their own voters’ guides and are organizing events designed to challenge the conservatives’ definition of “values.”

Both religious flanks are looking nervously over their shoulders at the Internal Revenue Service, which this year announced a renewed effort to enforce laws that limit churches and charities from involvement in partisan political campaigns.”

and back in 2002, the federal government was asked to revoke the tax-exempt status of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, said in a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service on Monday that ”publicly available information strongly suggests that P.E.T.A. induces or encourages the commission of unlawful acts.” The president of the animal rights group, Ingrid Newkirk, said the center was preying on fears of terrorism ”and trying to paint with a very broad brush all agitators for social change.” as AP reported.

As far as I know, PETA still benefits from tax-exemption.

So, do we have a double-standard in the case of Jewish communities in nJudea and samaria?

eli says:

I expect that the NYTimes will be doing a follow-up piece on the anti-Israeli tax exempt charities who use donations for the purposes of supporting hatred, even at times terrorism. Or is objectivity and even-handedness not fit to print?

Keith says:

Since when is demanding equal rights for Palestinians hatred? Settlements are a violation of international law and therefore those “charities” are promoting criminal behavior.

I think Mr. Medad makes some excellent points, especially as regards religious organizations in the United States getting involved with politics. The coors family, the bradley foundation and richard mellon scaife have spent millions in the non-profit sector trying to bind religious faith and political activism.

W/e your political and religious stance, I do believe that many churches, temples, mosques and synagogues have allowed politics a place at the podium. If that’s the case then perhaps we should start treating political institutions as politico-cultural clubs (with the appropriate tax status). The moment spirituality leaves the soul and enters politics, it needs to register itself with the government.

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All The Tax-Exempt Charities

Pushback against NYT article commences

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