A New York Times article suggesting that the United States gives preferential tax breaks to Jewish organizations and movements in Judea and Samaria was written in collusion with the radical leftist pro-Palestinian movement, and timed to coincide with a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to a report by media watchdog Honest Reporting.The NYT article alleged that Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are taking advantage of U.S. tax breaks in order to conduct illegal building and settlement in the region. The article states that the residents’ organizations have an easier time raising and using money from American donors for their cause than they have doing so in Israel. Over 40 pro-Israel groups in the United States have raised more than $200 million on behalf of Jewish life in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem in the last 10 years, according to the article.
Yet an analysis conducted by non-governmental organization watchdog NGO Monitor and publicized by Honest Reporting has concluded that the NYT report is very similar to an anti-Zionist campaign run by the anti Zionist Gush Shalom organization in 2009.
According to Honest Reporting, a confidential memo of July 2009 outlined a campaign to wrench federal tax exempt status from all U.S. charities providing support to Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Furthermore, while the NYT article did make quick mention of the fact that pro-Palestinian organizations also enjoy tax-exempt status in the United States, the article states that because American policy is against a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, tax-exemption for charitable organizations which support them is objectionable. “The donations to the settler movement stand out because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements,” said the article. It then quoted a senior State Department official who said the tax-exemptions are detrimental to US policy. “It’s a problem,” he said. “It’s unhelpful to the efforts that we’re trying to make.”
Honest Reporting noted that the article did not state the fact that there are also a significant number of pro-Palestinian tax exempt NGOs which promote policies contrary to that of the United States, such as a one-Arab-state solution or anti-Israel delegitimization programs.
CAMERA, the media watchdog organization, noted in its critique of the NYT article that there are obvious omissions: The New Israel Fund heavily subsidizes radical anti Zionist Israel-based organizations like Adallah, Breaking the Silence, Gisha, B’Tselem and Machsom Watch. These five organizations, together with many similar groups supported by the New Israel Fund, effectively work to undermine Israel’s standing in the world and its ability to defend itself. Yet among literally hundreds of organizations funded by the NIF not one is mentioned in the article. The only similar group the Times does mention is Peace Now, though it is termed an “Israeli civil and human rights group,” which the paper allows might be “accused of having a blatant political agenda.”
The NYT article itself states that the money “goes mostly to schools, synagogues, recreation centers and the like, legitimate expenditures under the tax law” and that “most contributions go to large, established settlements close to the boundary with Israel that would very likely be annexed in any peace deal, in exchange for land elsewhere”, leading CAMERA to ask” “So why the front page story?”