US donors back illegal Israeli settlements with millions in contributions

Via IsraelGives, millions fund West Bank settlements

(Photo: Twitter/X)
WASHINGTON — According to the Guardian, US residents have been contributing millions of dollars to IsraelGives, an Israeli crowdfunding platform, to causes including illegal West Bank settlements, paramilitary groups, and active Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) units in Gaza and the occupied West Bank since October 7. This comes amid an escalating humanitarian crisis due to the Israeli occupation’s aggression on Gaza.اضافة اعلان

Founded by entrepreneurs Jonathan Ben-Dor and Joseph Gitler, IsraelGives is a distinguished non-profit organization that has been at the forefront of providing essential online fundraising tools and technology to over 4,000 non-profit organizations globally. Since its establishment in 2009, IsraelGives has earned the reputation as Israel’s most trusted website for charitable giving, reflecting its commitment to facilitating transparent and reliable donation processes. Donors using IsraelGives gain access to a vast network of 50,000 nonprofits in Israel, offering them the opportunity to contribute to a diverse array of causes and initiatives.

The organization allows donors to receive tax receipts not only in Israel but also in key countries such as the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and the EU. This capability showcases the organization’s dedication to simplifying the donation process for an international audience, encouraging cross-border giving and making it more attractive for donors worldwide. Additionally, IsraelGives goes beyond traditional giving models by offering a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), empowering donors to deposit funds into their account and receive an immediate tax receipt. The DAF provides a strategic and flexible approach to philanthropy, allowing donors to manage and dedicate their contributions to charitable causes both at home and around the world, further enhancing the appeal of the organization as a comprehensive platform for global charitable giving.

Controversial fundraising campaigns on IsraelGives: allegations of support for settlements and military actions.

Since October 7, there have been over 450 detected live fundraising campaigns on the site. Recent campaigns are related to seeking donations for tactical equipment or logistics specifically to the settlements around the Gaza border. With a countdown stamp to the donations, the campaign’s description urges people to help with things regarding furnishing temporary housing, providing rent financing for those opting to live there, and acquiring vehicles. The donations will go directly to the suppliers, as mentioned on the organization’s site. The donors pledged $5.3 million to IOF, paramilitary, or settlers and a significant number of these donors identified themselves as US residents.

Some of these campaigns might violate US tax laws, as legal experts suggest, but enforcement on donors supporting Israeli causes has been rare. IsraelGives facilitates residents from the US, Canada, the EU, the UK, and Australia to claim tax deductions on donations that contribute to the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

There are campaigns specifically fundraising for illegal settlements including support for Efrat, Tene Omarum, Shavei Shomron, and Ma'on, a settlement responsible for the death of a Palestinian man who was shot on October 13 at point-blank range by a settler. Responding to inquiries, IsraelGives Ben-Dor asserted that the platform is a "neutral broker" facilitating giving to various non-profit organizations in Israel, claiming that the Ma’on campaign was created automatically as part of a war-time program but emphasized that it had yet to be vetted, approved, or funded.

Israeli agricultural innovation amidst Palestinian struggles and resource control

Additionally, these funds mention the destruction of agriculture in the kibbutz built around the Gaza strip. However, while Israel thrives in agriculture technology, providing solutions to global challenges like water scarcity, it simultaneously exacerbates Palestinian struggles through control over resources. Formerly thriving agricultural and fishing sectors in Gaza have been devastated by Israel’s blockade. Israel turned Gaza into an open- prison where necessities are controlled. It even goes as far as controlling the calories consumed by Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Also, it is reported that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are forbidden from collecting rainwater.

Annual expansion of settlements and controversial role of US charities in supporting Israeli settlementsAccording to an article by the Jerusalem Fund, every year, hundreds of new settlements throughout the West Bank including East Jerusalem are approved for construction. The Gaza Strip was also subject to the same policy before the Israeli unilateral redistribution of troops and the blockade, which began in 2007. Despite international condemnation and acknowledgment of the settlements as illegal, on November 18, 2019, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law.

Furthermore, there are US charities that allegedly play a controversial role in supporting Israeli settlements. American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, is a charity that aims to "re-unite Jerusalem," suggesting support for the expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and incentivizing settlers to move into newly built units. The Central Fund of Israel (CFI) has also contributed substantial funds to various Jewish charities and causes, including those supporting Israeli settlements. Lastly, The Israel Land Fund (ILF), a real estate company founded by Aryeh King, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and a settler, focuses on acquiring land in East Jerusalem with significant backing from influential Jewish American donors.

US aid to IsraelIsrael has always been a crucial ally of the US. The Biden administration has also sent 224 cargo planes and 20 ships carrying 10,000 tons of military hardware to Israel since the Israeli aggression on Gaza started.

Furthermore, The US provided $3.8 billion in aid to Israel in 2020, primarily for military assistance, as part of a long-term commitment made under the Obama administration. In addition to military aid, the US contributed $5 million toward resettling migrants in Israel in 2020. The funds have historically enabled Israel to develop one of the world's most advanced militaries, with notable purchases including F-35 combat aircraft and the development of the Iron Dome missile defense system, BBC news reported.

 Israel has used US aid to enhance its military capabilities, purchasing advanced equipment and collaborating on military technology. Israel's reliance on foreign aid helps compensate for its smaller size compared to other regional powers, and the aid is viewed as crucial in maintaining Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME) over potential threats.

Despite historic commitments and mutual strategic goals, some Democrats, including Senator Bernie Sanders, have raised questions about the amount and use of US aid to Israel, calling for a reexamination of the aid package and attempting to block specific weapon sales.

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