JERUSALEM, Wednesday, July 21, 2021 (WAFA) - A movement of over 150 Palestinian organizations, village councils, and activists have launched the Campaign to Defund Racism.
The campaign calls on US supporters to pressure New York Attorney General Letitia James, the state’s chief legal officer, to revoke the charitable licenses of New York-based organizations that fund Israeli settlement.
The campaign takes aim at the charities funding Elad, Israel Land Fund, and Ateret Cohanim - the main settler organizations at work in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, communities which are currently at risk of eviction.
"Israeli settler organizations have funneled US charitable money into a political campaign of displacement. Right now, over 100 homes and some 1,500 Palestinians in Silwan are facing displacement in favor of a theme park run on Palestinian lands by the settler organization Elad," said Sami Huraini, a Palestinian activist with Youth of Sumud, a grassroots organization based in Atuwani, Palestine. "Clearly, this is not the intended outcome of US charitable tax law."
From 1999 to 2020, just six of the US-based charities funding Israeli settler organizations targeted by the campaign tallied $392,083,641.00 in gross receipts on their tax forms. With an urgency to push back on settler organizations displacing communities in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and the Jordan Valley, Palestinian organizers are mobilizing US solidarity groups, shifting strategies, and developing new tactics to cut millions of dollars going to the settler movement.
"Other campaigns seeking to challenge the flow of US charitable money have targeted the IRS and their complaints have been left unanswered by bureaucrats," said Hisham Sharabati of the Hebron Defense Committee, an organization based in Hebron.
"This campaign is fundamentally different. Since US charities must maintain a 501(c)(3) status at the state level, the campaign targets one elected official who can be held accountable by her constituents - in this case, New York Attorney General Letitia James."
The campaign hopes to build upon the cross-movement momentum between justice movements in the United States and Palestinian liberation.
"We can see the interest in joint struggle growing. The mobilization we saw in May to speak out against the eviction of families in Sheikh Jarrah and Israel’s bombing of Gazans illustrates that people want to be in solidarity with Palestinians," said Lara Kilani, Advocacy Officer of the Good Shepherd Collective.
"We’re offering a campaign that can advance liberation in real ways across movements. White supremacist groups like New Century Foundation exploit US charitable laws to finance violence against Black and Brown communities. If the New York Attorney General enforces the existing laws, it can help us cut the funding for these racist organizations."
On July 27, several US groups, including Al-Awda New York, Within Our Lifetime, NY 4 Palestine, Samidoun, and American Muslims for Palestine (NJ Chapter) will hold a protest in Brooklyn to address New York AG Letitia James.