The Campaign to Defund Racism is a grassroots organized national call from Palestinian communities. Rooted in our belief that justice will only come through campaigns that target the policies working to uphold unjust structures, Palestinian individuals, villages, and organizations on both sides of the Green Line—from the South Hebron Hills to the Jordan Valley of the West Bank to East Jerusalem and the unrecognized villages of the Negev have all come together to put forth this call to action.
Although organizations like Ateret Cohanim, Elad, Israel Land Fund, and Regavim are founded in Israel as part of the settler movement, they are fiscally sponsored by charities registered in the state of New York. Friends of Ateret Cohanim, Friends of Ir David, the One Israel Fund, the Central Fund of Israel and the Israel Independence Fund all leverage their 501 © 3 status to fund settler colonialism. This allows these organizations to receive tax-deductible donations from the United States and funnel them abroad. Given each organization’s documented history of intentionally targeting non-Jewish communities for displacement and annexation campaigns as a means to develop illegal Israeli settlements, their actions are clearly outside the requirements to receive tax-deductible donations within the IRS guidelines in the United States.
The primary goal of the campaign to create legal precedent, to have clearly defined under the law that organizations supporting the oppression, displacement, and colonization of Palestinian lands is illegal under US charitable law.
Although complaints have been filed against the Central Fund of Israel before— as well as other settler organizations— they have been dealt with at the level of the IRS or other bureaucrats — behind closed doors, and without an elected official to communicate with, and have had little effect. Learning from this, the campaign focuses on the elected officials who have the power to change the way these charities operate. For example, in New York, the State Attorney who has full authority over charities registered in New York has such power. The movement in New York will pursue legal measures through a complaint to the State Attorney General’s office, calling on her to dissolve these organizations. As an elected official, the New York Attorney General is accountable to their constituents, and we believe that the constituents understand human rights to be the most basic foundation upon which a society should be built. Other localized campaigns may be slightly different. This is just one example.
The financial support that sustains organizations like Ateret Cohanim, Elad, Israel Land Fund, and Regavim both here in Palestine and in the United States is unjust. Cutting off that financial support, and creating legal precedents that disallow tax exemption to racist organizations is one way that we can create structural changes that can benefit all oppressed people—both within the United States, in Palestine, and elsewhere in the world. This strategy of redefining charitable works is at the intersection of our struggles and would be a decision that we have the power to influence—creating a tangible win for all movements of justice.