J Street disingenuous

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As I wrote in my July 19 column (“J Street’s new outrageous initiative“), J Street has enraged many American Jews by calling on its members to lobby the US Treasury to question the tax deductibility of charitable donations benefiting institutions over the Green Line.

It is now running for cover by disingenuously claiming it seeks to question the legality of these donations, as distinct from their tax deductibility status, as claimed below

J Street has not called for and is not lobbying for the tax deductible status of organizations that fund settlement activity to be revoked, as posited in “J Street’s new outrageous initiative” (July 19) by Isi Leibler. According to its statement on the matter, J Street is calling for an investigation into possible illegal activity committed by these groups“. (Corrections, July 21).

The fact is that it has launched a major campaign highlighting a New York Times article titled “Tax Exempt Funds Aid Settlements” that questioned their deductibility.

In its press release, J Street explicitly states that funds raised are “tax deductible contributions.”

So there can be no doubt as to its intention, it has urged its supporters to bombard the Treasury Department, which is responsible for matters of tax evasion, with demands for an investigation.

It goes without saying that if the donations are deemed illegal, they shall not enjoy deductibility.

Even if J Street’s campaign does not explicitly call for the revocation of deductibility, the result would effectively have far more serious ramifications for the donations than for the loss of this status, for it would render illegal any charitable contributions beyond the 1949 armistice lines. This would affect US organizations providing charitable contributions that might benefit the uncontested major settlement blocs, the Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem, the Old City, and even the Western Wall and Temple Mount.

It is unprecedented and utterly unconscionable for any Jewish organization, especially one that has the gall to describe itself as “pro Israel,” to lobby the US Treasury to investigate the legality (and, by implication, the tax deductibility) of contributions to Israel that are inconsistent with its political agenda.

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This response was published in the Jerusalem Post 

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