On a trip to Israel several years ago, I met and bonded with the notable Pulitzer prize nominated journalist and award winning author, Edwin Black. He has been a guest on my TV/Radio shows on several occasions. When he asked me to be a part of his new publication, Financing the Flames, I was more than pleased and prompted me to write this piece to be published and shared with the world.
Our country is wracked by one budget crisis after another. When the IRS permits an organization to enjoy 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, every American must pay the difference. Knowledgeable tax experts tell us that for every one million dollars in donations received by a 501(c)(3) charity, $440,000 of it is subsidized by US taxpayers. That is why we must ensure that taxpayer dollars going to activities in Israel are working to achieve peace and reconciliation—which remains an American priority in the Middle East.
But now we learn in a powerful new book, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel, by New York Times bestselling investigative author Edwin Black, that some of the biggest tax-exempt organizations operating in Israel are doing the opposite. Black cites prominent critics in Israel who say these organizations are devoted not to charitable works but to political turmoil and confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis. And this agitation is powered by US taxpayer money.
Many of the most vocal critics in Israel’s Knesset point to the prestigious New Israel Fund (NIF) as the top culprit in the agitation business.
The NIF steers millions of US dollars to scores of “confrontation NGOs” who work to promote agitation between Arabs and Jews in Israel. So says leading voices from Israel’s military and legislature, the Knesset. One of those most criticized is B’Tselem, which distributes video cameras to Arab villages that are known for orchestrated riots. Black reports “many charge the cameras are calculated to capture the scene after soldiers are taunted into finally reacting.”
One of those critics is Colonel Benny Yanay, who represents the group known as Consensus, an organization of hundreds of IDF officers. “The New Israel Fund,” states Yanay, “acts against Israel—against the soldiers of our country. It is important to me that people recognize the New Israel Fund for what it is. It is supported by foreign governments and organizations so that Israeli soldiers will be weakened.” Yanay adds, “Their budget is more than anything we have—so it is not a fair fight. We are not a political organization. They are political.”