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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/7/10

U.S. Charities Use Tax-Exempt Funds for West Bank Expansion

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A recent story in the New York Times titled, "Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank", was truly eye opening.

It centered on the tax-exempt status of donations that wind up funding questionable and illegal settlement activities in the West Bank.

The charities are all U.S. based and therefore legally tax exempt under our tax laws. But the funds, some $200 million over the last decade [1] are hardly scrutinized by the IRS. Much of the money goes "to schools, synagogues, recreation centers"but it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities: housing as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas."[2]

One would think these U.S. based charities would all be sponsored by Jewish groups, particularly the Orthodox, as they openly support the Israeli settlements based on their belief that the West bank is part of "Greater Israel" granted to them by God himself some 3500 odd years ago.

Yet many of the charitable organizations [3] funding these settlement activities are fundamentalist Christian groups who literally believe in the 2nd coming of Christ and according to their reading of biblical prophecy are supposed to occur during the time of the restoration of the Jews in Israel on their ancient lands.

Lest we forget, ever since the 1967 war, when Israel annexed the West Bank (among its conquests) there are now well over 400,000 mostly Orthodox Jewish settlers on Palestinian lands that were confiscated by these settlers. They do not recognize the rights of Palestinians, who have been there for generations and over a millennia, believing as they do it is their right to take their land back.

Of course the Palestinian's dispossessed of their lands object to this confiscation, but has no recourse. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) protects the settlers and the settlements.

At times when the Palestinian Authority (PLO) in the West Bank formally complains to the Israeli authorities Israel has reciprocated with the IDF bulldozing some of the settlement outposts. Yet in many instances the settlers, ever militant and rejecting their ouster, return and rebuild, completely undeterred and extremely antagonistic toward the Palestinians living in close proximity.

And it is these far flung West Bank settlement outposts that are being funded by American based Jewish and Christian charities that are in complete contradiction to supposed U.S. policy regarding West Bank settlement expansion. President Obama has specifically objected to the Israeli expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

So there exists a volatile mix of rabid Orthodox Jewish settlers (backed by ultra right wing American Jewish organizations as well as fundamentalist American Christian groups) juxtaposed with legitimately aggrieved Palestinians who receive no justice under the auspices of Israeli occupation that is nothing short of apartheid.

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