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January 29, 2019 11:54 am

Canadian Jewish Group Stripped of Charitable Status for Supporting Pre-Army Training Programs in Israel

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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The Toronto area is home to Canada’s largest Jewish community. Photo: John Vetterli via Wikimedia Commons.

A Canadian Jewish organization has lost its official charitable status due to its support for pre-army training programs in Israel.

According to Canada’s Global News, Toronto-based Beth Oloth contributes to mechinot, which are high school programs designed to prepare Israeli teenagers for army service. The Canada Revenue Agency has deemed this to be contrary to Canadian law.

“It is our position that these pre-army mechinot exist to provide support to the Israel Defense Forces, and that funds forwarded to these mechinot are therefore in support of foreign armed forces,” said the CRA’s Charities Directorate.

Such activity, the CRA asserted, was “not charitable in law.”

The CRA also charged that Beth Orot was involved in activities in the “occupied territories” — presumably referring to the West Bank — and therefore in violation of Canadian and international law.

“Providing assistance to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories serves to encourage and enhance the permanency of the infrastructure and settlements and therefore is contrary to Canada’s public policy and international law on this issue,” said the agency.

Beth Oloth said in response that it was only seeking to help religious soldiers receive pre-army training, as well as provide assistance to impoverished Orthodox families.

The organization took in more than 60 million Canadian dollars in 2017, making it number 62 on the list of the largest charitable institutions in the country.

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