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October 6, 2018 11:12 pm

Is the New Israel Fund Violating US Non-Profit Policy?

avatar by Ronn Torossian, Hank Sheinkopf, and George Birnbaum

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The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, DC. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The New Israel Fund (NIF) openly backs groups that have endorsed the boycott of Israel and it has long engaged in a wide variety of activities which we consider to be most harmful to the State of Israel. But the organization — a US-based non-profit which funds a number of different initiatives — may now have crossed another line by openly supporting political campaigning, which is in clear violation of the US tax code for charitable organizations.

As such, we have recently filed a complaint with the IRS demanding that the NIF’s tax-exempt status be revoked (we have yet to receive a response).

Shatil, the Israel-based “operative arm” of the NIF has embarked on a project it calls “Free Cities.” Local iterations of the project include “Free Ramat Hasharon,” “Free Givatayim,” and “Free Petach Tikvah.”

The goal of “Free Cities” is to unite a number of groups and organizations to fight against “religionization.” The New Israel Fund’s logo is prominently displayed on Shatil’s website and Shatil, in turn, hosts the “Free Cities” website on its domain. The coordinator for the project is listed as a member of staff on Shatil’s website and the administrators of the “Free Cities” Facebook group also both work for Shatil.

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Hence, there can be no question of the New Israel Fund’s ties to the political activity.

Here are some of the details:

  • Successes” listed by the organization’s “Free Ramat Hasharon” group include the passing of legislation to allow businesses to remain open on Shabbat. The group also announced it was running for municipal elections.
  • The group’s “Free Givatayim” branch similarly announced on its Facebook page that it’s running for the municipal elections.
  • Their “Free Petach Tikvah” branch openly supports Rami Greenberg for mayor of the city.

We see this as ample indication that the New Israel Fund is connected to proscribed political activity and are advocating that its tax exempt status be withdrawn. It should be clear that US non profits cannot be involved with political campaigns in Israel.

George Birnbaum is an international political consultant, who formerly served as chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications is a leading political strategist whose clients have included former President Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR Agency, and author of “For Immediate Release.”

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