The JNF enjoys tax-exempt status as a charitable organization in the United States even though the reality of its work- supporting the ongoing Nakba, Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine- is anything but charitable. On March 30, 2016, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) submitted a regulatory challenge to the IRS requesting an investigation into the charitable status of the JNF on grounds of discrimination and contravention of U.S. policy.
Dr. Hatem Bazian
American Muslims for Palestine
(4/25/2016) -- At the April 19 th , 2016, hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade as well as the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, the testimony from Mr. Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Research Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was a spectacle that qualified for the theater of the absurd rather than a legitimate examination of facts and sound research. The contradiction in the testimony should dawn on people listening or reading Mr. Schanzer's remarks titled, “Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State,” which is targeting an American organization, American Muslims for Palestine, for its criticism of Israel and support of BDS.
Mr. Schanzer is not content that U.S. taxes are subsidizing his beloved little apartheid state, Israel, but wants Congress to muzzle anyone who has a serious critique of this settler colonial state. Here, the FDD’s testimony and the congressional committee leadership are giving McCarthyism a new lease on life with the focus being Islamic organizations and Muslim individuals. Guilt by association is peddled at a congressional hearing that utilizes Islamophobia to frame distorted foreign policy priorities. A name change is appropriate for the FDD, and it should be called the Foundation in Defense of Islamophobia. The FDD’s board and research focus reeks of Islamophobia from top to bottom, and Mr. Schanzer is yet another piece that fits the pattern.
Indeed, the committee chair allowed to stand and admitted into record a testimony that on the one hand states that Schanzer “had seen no evidence of illicit activity” on the part of AMP, yet allowed a 12-page McCarthyism type of dossier to enter into circulation. The FDD and pro-Israel think tanks’ pattern should be deconstructed to understand how it functions.
The defaming research is done through a think tank or a front group set up by the vast pro-Israel network — FDD is such a group — and then makes its way to policy discussions and congressional hearings. In addition, a vast network of internet sites operated and run by pro-Israel outfits work collectively to cite, republish and share so as to create a tipping point of negative and Islamophobic representation. What we are witnessing is “targeted” killings in civil society, a strategy that attempts to silence Palestinian voices and curtail the increasing success of the BDS movement in the U.S. and across the world. The BDS movement and AMP’s involvement in it is the essence of democracy and the ability of people to make an informed decision on how their retirement funds are invested, what products they should purchase and the right to call for sanctions on Israel for its on-going occupation, human rights violations and total disregard of international law.
The increased success of BDS across the globe has generated panic both inside and outside Israel. Consequently, Israel’s response has been to dedicate massive resources to target activists and organizations so as to delegitimize the movement in the hope of preventing further erosion of support in Europe and the United States. Let’sbe frank, Israel as a product no longer has appeal and since the last Gaza assault has became a toxic product on par with Flint, Michigan, water pipes crisis. Israel’s leadership and society is living in the distant past and thinks that defamation,
McCarthyism, guilt by association and Islamophobia will shore up the morally and ethically leaky Zionist pipes. How many more brutal and disproportional Israeli military attacks should the world be treated to before reaching the moment of saying enough is enough? AMP’s success in the U.S. is directly connected to Israeli intransigence, Netanyahu’s arrogance and the brutality of its death machine, which is no longer possible to hide.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies should meditate on the contradiction of its own name, coming to the defense of a state that occupies another people and structurally discriminates against its own Arab and African minority populations. Focus on Iran’s, Saudi Arabia’s and Gulf States’ violations of minority rights would be the retort of Schanzer and his FDD colleagues as if this is an answer or a real defense of Israel.
Yes, FDD and its “researchers” will treat all of us to the empty canard, “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” the holy grail defense whenever human rights violations and war crimes are introduced into the discussion but this no longer can carry the day.
Democracies are measured by the principles of equality, justice, fairness, and dignity for all. Thus, the propensity of Israel’s defender at pointing fingers to other countries is an insult to human intelligence, let alone being an admissible argument in defense of an apartheid state. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies should change its name to the Foundation for the Defense of Apartheid Democracies, which is exactly the case in its fictitious attack on American Muslims for Palestine.
Had the Foundation for Defense of Democracies taken its name seriously, it might spend some more time on calling for an investigation of AIPAC as an agent of a foreign country and its role opposing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East for the benefit of Israel. Indeed, we should expect a defense of U.S. democracy at a time when Congress is more apt to take direction from Netanyahu rather than President Obama and the American people. Or maybe, since Mr. Schanzer is so committed to democratic principles, then how about spending some time on exposing Zionist funding coming from U.S.-based individuals and groups that help build and drive settlement expansion in the West Bank, a violation of existing U.S. policy on the issue?