The Fight to Strip Pro-Israel Charities of Tax-Exempt Status

May 5, 2022 | Morton Klein and Elizabeth Burne
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In recent years, T’ruah, a progressive rabbinic advocacy group, has pushed the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of charities that, among many other things, offer aid to Israelis living in Jerusalem and the West Bank. As Morton Klein and Elizabeth Burney report, T’ruah seems to have prompted seven members of Congress’s left-wing “squad” to join their efforts.

In July 2021, seven Democratic congressional members—Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, André Carson, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, and Betty McCollum—wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding revocation of the tax-exempt status of pro-Israel Jewish charities that provide humanitarian aid if some of it helps Jews in . . . Judea and Samaria, as well as parts of Jerusalem.

The Central Fund of Israel (CFI), named specifically in the letter, focuses overwhelmingly on helping the needy and vulnerable: supporting shelters for battered women, medical research, assistance to the poor, and so forth. As for the representatives’ specific accusations, they rest on very shaky ground:

The letter’s primary claims are that CFI funds a group called Ḥemla; that Ḥemla funnels money to a group called Lehava; and that “every year on Jerusalem Day, Lehava and partners organize the Flag March that “terrorizes Palestinians in East Jerusalem.” CFI has never given a penny to Lehava. During the past six years, the only grant CFI made to Ḥemla was for a mere $650, back in 2017. . . . CFI gave nothing to Ḥemla the year before (2016) or since (2018-2022).

Incidentally, contrary to the rabbis’ ridiculous claim that Jerusalem Flag Marches are violent onslaughts of Lehava activists running through the streets “terrorizing Arabs,” the Jerusalem Flag Marches are primarily peaceful occasions, organized by other groups.

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