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The People Setting America on Fire

An investigation into the witches’ brew of billionaires, Islamists, and leftists behind the campus protests

Park MacDougald
May 06, 2024
A person stands among tents at an encampment set up by pro-Palestinian protesters on the campus of Columbia University in New York on April 25, 2024


A person stands among tents at an encampment set up by pro-Palestinian protesters on the campus of Columbia University in New York on April 25, 2024


Over the past several weeks, Americans have witnessed what has seemed like a mass outpouring of support for terror on elite college campuses. At Columbia, Yale, Princeton, NYU, UCLA, Northwestern, Texas, and elsewhere, masked mobs have occupied schools with tent encampments, established self-proclaimed “autonomous zones,” clashed with police, harassed and threatened visibly Jewish students, and issued demands for their universities to divest from Israeli “genocide.” Politically, moreover, the protests have displayed an incoherent mix of campus progressivism, hardcore Islamism and Arab nationalism, and revolutionary anarchism and communism, including open praise for North Korea. The only unifying thread would appear to be opposition to Israel and its alleged imperial patron, the United States.

Have America’s college students suddenly converted en masse to anarcho-communist-jihadism? Not quite. Many are far left and anti-Israel. Some are foreigners, or the children of foreigners, who have imported the conspiracies and hatreds of their homelands. More, admitted under relaxed pandemic-era admissions standards and proudly ignorant of both American and world history, are taking the “decolonial” half-knowledge pushed by their elders to its logical conclusion.

But students are not the only, and perhaps not even the most important, faction active in the campus protests. As in the “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter protests of the summer of 2020, “outside agitators”—professional radicals and organizers, black bloc antifa thugs, Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries, and Palestinian and Islamist radicals—have played a central role in organizing and escalating the campus protests, just as they have organized and escalated the wider anti-Israel protest campaign that began almost immediately after Oct. 7. This largely decentralized network of agitators is, in turn, politically and financially supported by a vast web of progressive nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, and dark-money groups ultimately backed by big-money donors aligned with the Democratic Party.

The first hint that the protests are not entirely organic is their striking resemblance to previous rounds of organized far-left agitation, from the “uprising” of summer 2020 to the rolling antifa vs. Proud Boys brawls of 2016-17. The creation of “liberated” or “autonomous” zones on campus, for instance, is a hallmark of anarchist organizing familiar from Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and New York’s City Hall Autonomous Zone four summers ago. Familiar, too, is the governance of these zones, with masked security details prohibiting filming from outsiders and directing reporters to trained media representatives. During clashes with police or with counterprotesters, students and their allies have deployed classic “bloc” tactics, covering their faces and dressing in matching outfits to promote anonymity, linking arms to interfere with police attempts to conduct arrests, and attempting “de-arrests”—i.e., the coordinated swarming of police officers—to rescue apprehended comrades. At Yale, student activists doxxed the police officers sent to clear them out of the encampment—another harassment tactic frequently deployed by antifa.

Scratch a pro-Palestinian radical organization, and you are likely to find Tides’ involvement somewhere.

These resemblances are no accident. All of these tactics require a degree of instruction and training. Footage from Columbia showed the professional “protest consultant” Lisa Fithian, a veteran of Occupy, BLM, Standing Rock, and Stop Cop City, teaching students at Columbia how to barricade themselves into Hamilton Hall. Recent video from inside the protest encampment at UCLA, meanwhile, showed masked men leading a hand-to-hand combat training. When police cleared out encampments at the University of Texas-Austin and Columbia and the City University of New York last week, roughly half of those arrested—45 of the 79 in Texas, 134 of the 282 in New York—had no connection with the university at which they were arrested. Some, like the 40-year-old anarchist heir James Carlson, arrested at Columbia’s Hamilton Hall, had protest related rap sheets going back two decades.

“What you’re seeing is a real witches’ brew of revolutionary content interacting on campuses,” says Kyle Shideler, the director for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and an expert on far-left domestic extremism. “On the left-wing side, you have a broad variety of revolutionary leftists, who serve as rent-a-mobs, providing the warm bodies for whatever the leftist cause of the day is. And on the other side you have the Islamist and Palestinian networks: American Muslims for Palestine and their subsidiary Students for Justice in Palestine, CAIR, the Palestinian Youth Movement. We’re seeing a real mixture of different kinds of radical foment, and it’s all being activated at the same time.”

The far-left groups active in the protests include antifa and other anarchists: Anarchist literature has been distributed in the encampments, and antifa websites have published dispatches from “comrades” on the inside. They also include various communist and Marxist-Leninist groups, including the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and the International ANSWER coalition, a PSL front group that worked with several Muslim groups to organize the Jan. 13 March on Washington for Gaza, at which protesters flew the black jihadist flag. On April 29, for instance, shortly before masked assailants stormed Columbia’s Hamilton Hall and barricaded themselves inside, The People’s Forum—a Manhattan event space affiliated with the PSL and funded by Neville Roy Singham, a wealthy businessman who “works closely with the Chinese government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide,” according to an August profile in The New York Timesurged its activists to rush up to Columbia to “support our students.” Similar calls for an “emergency action” were distributed throughout radical networks in New York City.

These groups, Shideler says, typically operate in a decentralized manner, using successful tactics drawn from decades of anarchist organizing and spread through left-wing activist networks via word-of-mouth, as well as through formal trainings by professionals such as Fithian or the nonprofit “movement incubator” Momentum Strategies. “If you look at Fithian,” he says, “she has consulted with hundreds of groups on how to do these things: how to organize, how to protest, how to make sure your people don’t go to jail, how to help them once they’re in jail.” There is no one decision-maker; rather, decentralized “affinity” groups work together toward a shared goal, coordinating out in the open via social media and Google Docs. This can create an impression of centralized planning. Shideler cites the matching tents that have cropped up on a number of campuses, prompting speculation that some shadowy entity is buying them en masse. “People keep pointing out, They all have the same tent!,” he says. “Well, yeah, it’s because the organizers told them to buy a tent, and sent around a Google Doc with a link to that specific tent on Amazon. So they all went out and bought the same tent.”

In fact, it is a mistake both to view the campus protests as a “student” movement and to regard the outsiders as “infiltrators” or somehow separate from the movement. Rather, student activists have been working together with outsiders, with whom they are linked via overlapping activist networks and nationwide organizations. The “student” revolts, in turn, exist on a continuum with the broader anti-Israel protest movement. The campus encampments, for instance, began immediately after the nationwide “economic blockade” on April 15, which saw protesters block the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and “flood” Wall Street in New York City. Calls to participate in the “A15 Action” were disseminated widely in anarchist and far-left networks, while Palestinian and Islamist groups—SJP, AMP, CAIR, and Within Our Lifetime—simultaneously called for an April 15 “Strike 4 Gaza.” Given reporting that nationwide campus “liberation zones” and “encampments” were planned as early as November 2023, it seems likely that the timing of the university protests was decided by “the movement” well in advance.

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The “movement,” in turn, while it recruits from among students and other self-motivated radicals willing to put their bodies on the line, relies heavily on the funding of progressive donors and nonprofits connected to the upper reaches of the Democratic Party. Take the epicenter of the nationwide protest movement, Columbia University. According to reporting in the New York Post, the Columbia encampment was principally organized by three groups: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Within Our Lifetime (WOL). Let’s take each in turn.

JVP is, in essence, the “Jewish”-branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, backed by the usual big-money progressive donors—including some, like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, that were instrumental in selling Obama’s Iran Deal to the public. JVP and its affiliated political action arm, JVP Action, have received at least $650,000 from various branches of George Soros’ philanthropic empire since 2017, $441,510 from the Kaphan Foundation (founded by early Amazon employee Sheldon Kaphan), $340,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and smaller amounts from progressive donors such as the Quitiplas Foundation, according to reporting from the New York Post and NGO Monitor, a pro-Israel research institute. JVP has also received nearly $1.5 million from various donor-advised funds—which allow wealthy clients to give anonymously through their financial institutions—run through the charitable giving arms of Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley, Vanguard, and TIAA, according to NGO Monitor’s review of those institutions’ tax documents.

SJP, by contrast, is an outgrowth of the Islamist networks dissolved during the U.S. government’s prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and related charities for fundraising for Hamas. SJP is a subsidiary of an organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP); SJP in fact has no “formal corporate structure of its own but operates as AMP’s campus brand,” according to a lawsuit filed last week against AJP Educational Fund, the parent nonprofit of AMP. Both AMP and SJP were founded by the same man, Hatem Bazian, a Palestinian academic who formerly fundraised for KindHearts, an Islamic charity dissolved in 2012 pursuant to a settlement with the U.S. Treasury, which froze the group’s assets for fundraising for Hamas (KindHearts did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement). And several of AMP’s senior leaders are former fundraisers for HLF and related charities, according to November congressional testimony from former U.S. Treasury official Jonathan Schanzer. An ongoing federal lawsuit by the family of David Boim, an American teenager killed in a Hamas terrorist attack in 1996, goes so far as to allege that AMP is a “disguised continuance” and “legal alter-ego” of the Islamic Association for Palestine, was founded with startup money from current Hamas official Musa Abu Marzook and dissolved alongside HLF. AMP has denied it is a continuation of IAP.

Today, however, National SJP is legally a “fiscal sponsorship” of another nonprofit: a White Plains, New York, 501(c)(3) called the WESPAC Foundation. A fiscal sponsorship is a legal arrangement in which a larger nonprofit “sponsors” a smaller group, essentially lending it the sponsor’s tax-exempt status and providing back-office support in exchange for fees and influence over the sponsorship’s operations. For legal and tax purposes, the sponsor and the sponsorship are the same entity, meaning that the sponsorship is relieved of the requirement to independently disclose its donors or file a Form 990 with the IRS. This makes fiscal sponsorships a “convenient way to mask links between donors and controversial causes,” according to the Capital Research Center. Donors, in other words, can effectively use nonprofits such as WESPAC to obscure their direct connections to controversial causes.

Something of the sort appears to be happening with WESPAC. Run by the market researcher Howard Horowitz, WESPAC reveals very little about its donors, although scattered reporting and public disclosures suggest that the group is used as a pass-through between larger institutions and pro-Palestinian radicals. Since 2006, for instance, WESPAC has received more than half a million in donations from the Elias Foundation, a family foundation run by the private equity investor James Mann and his wife. WESPAC has also received smaller amounts from Grassroots International (an “environmental” group heavily funded by Thousand Currents), the Sparkplug Foundation (a far-left group funded by the Wall Street fortune of Felice and Yoram Gelman), and the Bafrayung Fund, run by Rachel Gelman, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune. (A self-described “abolitionist,” Gelman was featured in a 2020 New York Times feature on “The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism.”) In 2022, WESPAC also received $97,000 from the Tides Foundation, the grant-making arm of the Tides Nexus.

WESPAC, however, is not merely the fiscal sponsor of the Hamas-linked SJP but also the fiscal sponsor of the third group involved in organizing the Columbia protests, Within Our Lifetime (WOL), formerly known as New York City SJP. Founded by the Palestinian American lawyer Nerdeen Kiswani, a former activist with the Hunter College and CUNY chapters of SJP, WOL has emerged over the past seven months as perhaps the most notorious antisemitic group in the country, and has been banned from Facebook and Instagram for glorifying Hamas. A full list of the group’s provocations would take thousands of words, but it has been the central organizing force in the series of “Flood”-themed protests in New York City since Oct. 7, including multiple bridge and highway blockades, a November riot at Grand Central Station, the vandalism of the New York Public Library, and protests at the Rockefeller Center Christmas-tree lighting. In addition to their confrontational tactics, WOL-led protests tend to have a few other hallmarks. These include eliminationist rhetoric directed at the Jewish state—such as Arabic chants of “strike, strike, Tel Aviv”; the prominent display of Hezbollah flags and other insignia of explicitly Islamist resistance; the presence of masked Arab street muscle; and the antisemitic intimidation of counterprotesters by said masked Arab street muscle.

WOL’s role appears to be that of shock troops, akin to the role played by black block militants on the anarchist side of the ledger. WOL is, however, connected to more seemingly “mainstream” elements of the anti-Israel movement. Abdullah Akl, a prominent WOL leader—indeed, the man leading the “strike Tel Aviv” chants in the video linked above—is also listed as a “field organizer” on the website of MPower Change, the “advocacy project” led by Linda Sarsour. MPower Change, in turn, is a fiscal sponsorship of NEO Philanthropy, another large progressive clearinghouse. NEO Philanthropy and its 501(c)(4) “sister,” NEO Philanthropy Action Fund, have received more than $37 million from Soros’ Open Society Foundations since 2021 alone, as well as substantial funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.

More than any of the dark-money giants on the left, Tides has become tightly integrated with the ascendant Obama faction of the Democratic Party.

Tides, you might have noticed, is a name that keeps coming up again and again. The Tides Nexus, of which the Tides Foundation is a part, is one of largest progressive dark-money networks in the country, controlling upward of a billion in assets; its list of major donors is an all-star cast of left-wing billionaires and foundations, including Soros, Peter Buffett and his NoVo Foundation, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the New Venture Fund, controlled by another Democratic dark-money powerhouse, Eric Kessler’s Arabella Advisors. A pioneer of what critics have called “charitable money-laundering” through the use of fiscal sponsorships to obscure money trails through multiple layers of bureaucracy, Tides, through its donations and fiscal sponsorships, has emerged as a major backer of the anti-Israel protest movement across the country.

Indeed, scratch a pro-Palestinian radical organization, and you are likely to find Tides’ involvement somewhere. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), which organized an illegal blockade of the Port of Tacoma in November and an anti-Israel walkout of high school students in San Francisco—where AROC contracts with the unified public school district—is a fiscal sponsorship of the Tides Center. So is Palestine Legal, which has coordinated with the National Lawyers Guild to provide legal support for students at the encampments and filed civil rights complaints with the Department of Justice alleging “hostile anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic” environments on American campuses. Another fiscal sponsorship of the Tides Center is the Adalah Justice Project, whose executive director, Sandra Tamari, was arrested on April 30 at the encampment at Washington University in St. Louis, and who is also the co-founder of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, which participated in the April 15 “Strike 4 Gaza” by blockading the local Boeing manufacturing plant. Still another fiscal sponsorship of the Tides Center is the Community Justice Exchange, which ran the legal defense and bail fund for the A15 Action/Strike 4 Gaza “blockade,” raising money through the Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue. Since 2020, Tides has also donated just under $3 million to the Alliance for Global Justice, a far-left nonprofit that fiscally sponsors Samidoun, a PFLP front led by Charlotte Kates, the wife of PFLP Central Committee member Khaled Barakat. Barakat, in turn, addressed Columbia students at a seminar in March organized by WOL and SJP.

Whether Tides itself is selecting these organizations for donations, or whether it is merely acting as a pass-through for large donors who would prefer to avoid the spotlight, is difficult to know—which, one might say, is the entire purpose of Tides’ byzantine corporate structure. But we are left with the fact that wealthy donors have been subsidizing months of rolling disruptive street protests by a grab bag of revolutionary and anti-Israel radicals. That leads naturally to a question: To what end?

“The way I typically see it,” says Shideler, “is that these foundations, nonprofits, slush funds, fiscal sponsors—I think of them as the gas pedal and the brake. They don’t necessarily control the content, but they can control the size and scope and the amount, just by controlling the amount of money that flows. When they want things to speed up they can increase the amount of money they contribute to all of these different revolutionary elements, and when they want to slow it down they can decrease the amount of money. They don’t really steer the ship; these guys are committed revolutionaries, they believe what they’re saying and they’re taking the money because it’s helpful to them. In that sense they’re not controlled. But, obviously, you can determine when and where they do things based on how much money you give them.”

This is not the first time that elements of the progressive establishment have sided with—and lent financial support and political cover to—similar networks of radicals. Many of the same philanthropic organizations have heavily funded disruptive “direct action” climate protesters, including Just Stop Oil! and the Sunrise Movement—leading directly to concessions from the Biden administration such as the creation of the American Climate Corps. Big-money progressive donors, including Tides and Soros, poured money into Black Lives Matter and various associated bail funds during the violent summer of 2020, and sympathetic federal prosecutors dropped charges or sought reduced sentences for far-left radicals who committed violence during the BLM riots, even as they threw the book at every two-bit shaman who wandered into the Capitol. In 2022, Democrats again leaned on radicals to organize street protests against the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

But this is the first time that these donor-funded radical networks have gone to war with a Democratic president. Shideler speculates that whatever the ultimate goal of funding the anti-Israel protests, it is to be found closer to home than Gaza. “It has more to do with domestic politics, and we can see this by the language targeting Joe Biden explicitly, even though he and his administration have already handled the conflict in an exceedingly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian way.” One reason to target Biden is that it provides his administration cover to ignore a weakened but still influential block of pro-Israel Democrats—allowing the president to claim, in essence, that his hands are tied. But it may also reflect a power struggle within the party, between what was formerly an insurgent progressive fringe—now backed by a murderer’s row of billionaire donors and energized by young cadres rising through the professional-managerial cursus honorum—and what remains of the teetering old Clintonian establishment. Or, rather, it is a display of force by the faction that has already won, complete with a message for the losers: This is who we are now. Get in line or be destroyed.

It is here that the outsize role of Tides in funding the protests may be especially significant. More than any of the dark-money giants on the left, Tides has become tightly integrated with the ascendant Obama faction of the Democratic Party. Tides board member Cheryl Alston, for instance, was appointed by Obama to serve two terms on the advisory committee of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Board member Dylan Orr worked in Obama’s Department of Labor, becoming the first “openly transgender person appointed to a U.S. presidential administration.” Board member Tim Wang is a managing partner at the Westley Group, a clean-energy venture capital firm founded by Steve Westley, the former California co-chair of Obama for America whom Obama nearly appointed as Secretary of Energy. Board member Lori Chatman serves as president of the capital division of Enterprise Community Partners, a housing and “racial equity” nonprofit helmed by Shaun Donavon, who served as Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development and director of the Office of Management and Budget. And the former secretary of the Tides board, Suzanne Nossel, served as deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations in the Obama administration (Nossel resigned from the board in 2021).

Maybe it is a coincidence that a dark-money philanthropy empire tied to Obama would be bankrolling a protest movement designed to undercut American support for Israel’s war on Hamas—which just happened to be the White House nickname of one Ben Rhodes, the man responsible for building the media-NGO echo chamber that would initially sell the Iran deal and later be repurposed for domestic political warfare during the Trump years. Perhaps it is a coincidence that an Israeli victory in this war, which started with a grisly terrorist attack planned and sponsored by Iran, would deal a crushing blow to the Obama-Biden project of realignment with Iran, which remains the current administration’s real but unacknowledged policy in the Middle East. That realignment has in turn required seeding the generally pro-Israel and anti-terror American public with the idea that Israel isn’t actually a friend but rather a sectarian ethnostate with a pushy domestic lobby bent on dragging American boys into another pointless Mideast war, all so the Jews can continue kicking around the poor Palestinians—just like those bitter whites in flyover country who vote Trump because they want to kick around the Blacks and Mexicans. Which seems, in what is no doubt another coincidence, to be precisely the message of the protesters, who explicitly liken Zionism to domestic white supremacy.

Thus do we find ourselves in a regular lattice of coincidence.

There remains, after all this speculation, another basic question. Is all of this really legal?

Judging by the laws on the books, the answer would seem to be “no.” As Joseph Simonson of The Washington Free Beacon has reported on multiple occasions, the rules of the Internal Revenue Service explicitly prohibit 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits from engaging in “planned activities that violate laws” or “induce the commission of a crime.” IRS Rev. Rul. 75-384 states explicitly that even an “antiwar protest organization” committed to “world peace,” if it sponsors “demonstrations in which demonstrators are urged to commit violations of local ordinances and breaches of public order,” would not qualify for tax-exempt status.

When I asked Shideler for his opinion on why not only the IRS, but federal and local law enforcement, seemed reluctant to act against what seemed to be clear violations of the law, he offered me a quote from The Wire: “If you follow drugs, you get drugs and drug dealers. If you follow the money, you don’t know what you’re going to get.” Many of the professional agitators involved in lawbreaking are quite literally on the payroll of big-city political machines, or provide important services such as get-out-the-vote organizing and phone banking during low-turnout Democratic primaries. As mentioned above, Abdullah Akl, the WOL organizer popping up across New York calling on “Abu Obeida” to “strike Tel Aviv,” is also an employee of Linda Sarsour’s MPower Change, and Sarsour herself has appeared at various protest encampments and New York City direct actions. But her Arab American Association of New York, which co-organized an Oct. 21 “Flood Brooklyn for Palestine Protest” with WOL, has received $6.8 million in New York City taxpayer funds since 2010, according to a review of records by the New York Post.

A sense of the uncomfortable questions that might be raised by any serious attempt to go after these groups can be gleaned from a 2023 grand jury indictment in Georgia, where prosecutors brought state RICO charges against several dozen anarchists and revolutionaries involved in the “Stop Cop City” protests against the planned construction of a police training facility in Atlanta. The indictment identified a network of fraudulent nonprofits, fiscal sponsors, and bail funds that were, in reality, front groups controlled by three anarchist roommates, who used millions in tax-exempt funds raised for ostensibly charitable purposes to further what prosecutors allege was a violent criminal conspiracy involving the illegal occupation of public land, planned confrontations with police, and organized doxxing and harassment campaigns targeting police and private citizens working at construction companies contracted to build the facility. The “Atlanta Solidarity Fund,” for instance, was a bail fund used to support arrested Stop Cop City protesters, while the “Forest Justice Defense Fund” reimbursed “Forest Defenders”—i.e., the group’s officers and their antifa comrades—for the purchase of tents, camping supplies, surveillance equipment, shortwave radios, drones, and ammunition.

Where did the money come from? From donations solicited through left-wing fundraising and organizing networks. One of those networks was the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), an umbrella group for more than 80 “community organizations,” including the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, which organized an illegal anti-Israel protest in the Capitol Rotunda in December at which more than 50 activists were arrested. CJA’s website promotes a grab bag of far-left causes, and includes a “Free Palestine” page proclaiming that “the path to climate justice travels through a free Palestine.” To this day—eight months after the Georgia RICO indictment alleged that the Forest Justice Defense Fund was a fraudulent charity paying for ammunition purchases in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy—CJA maintains a Stop Cop City page urging readers to donate to the Forest Justice Defense Fund and the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. CJA also endorsed a “statement of solidarity” with Stop Cop City, which claimed, by the inexorable logic of intersectionality, the fight against “gentrification and police violence” in Atlanta as part of the fight against climate change.

CJA is a subsidiary of the Movement Strategy Center, a California-based 501(c)(3) that has received funding from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and various branches of the Open Society network. But it has another financial supporter, one that may come as a surprise: You, the American taxpayer. In November, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was entrusting $50 million in federal grant money under the Inflation Reduction Act to the CJA, to be distributed in sub-grants to fund “environmental justice” projects by “community-based nonprofit organizations.”

“Every person has a right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and live in a community that is healthy and safe,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement on the EPA grant. “For too long, however, low-income communities, immigrant communities, Native communities, and communities of color have endured disproportionate levels of air, water, and soil pollution. That is why President Joe Biden and I have put equity at the center of our nation’s largest investment in climate in history. Today’s announcement puts that commitment into action by ensuring critical resources to fund environmental justice projects across the country reach the organizations that know their communities best.”

Harris—give her credit—is an artist of such officialese, which is meant to signify precisely nothing to the average citizen. It comes as a shock to learn, inadvertently, and due to honest but perhaps naive efforts of some red-state prosecutor, what the vice president means when she says her administration is “ensuring critical resources to fund environmental justice projects across the country reach the organizations that know their communities best.” What she means is that the federal government is funneling tens of millions of dollars of public money to a group that understands “environmental justice” to imply the abolition of policing, the perpetual struggle against “white supremacy,” and the liberation of Palestine.

It’s remarkable what one can find from pulling on such threads. Which may be why, to date, there has been very little political will to pull on them.

May 8, 2024: This article has been updated to reflect the following:

A previous version of this article stated that the largest single donor to WESPAC in 2022 was the Eutopia Foundation. Eutopia gave $550,000 to WESPAC in 2022, labeled as “General & Unrestricted” support on Eutopia’s IRS Form 990. In an email to Tablet after the publication of the article, however, Eutopia clarified that the grant was restricted to funding an organization supporting minority farmers in the Hudson Valley, for which WESPAC acted as the fiscal sponsor, and did not in fact provide general support for WESPAC.

A previous version of this article misstated the relationship between Rep. Dan Goldman and Rachel Gelman. They are cousins, not siblings.

Park MacDougald is senior writer of The Scroll, Tablet’s daily afternoon newsletter.

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