American tax-exempt organizations provide direct funding to Israeli army

by Yaniv Reich on January 17, 2011

Elsewhere on this blog I have highlighted how tax-exempt donations to US organizations are used to fund overt racism and racist violence, genocidal rabbis, Jewish terrorists, and illegal Jewish-only colonies on Palestinian land.  So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that US charity money also goes directly to the Israeli army, and yet I still find it remarkable that US government subsidies in the form of tax breaks can be used to fund foreign militaries.

Meet the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which helps support “young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland.”  This support includes nationalistic “support programs”, physical construction projects on Israeli military bases, gives discretionary pocket money directly to Israeli army commanders for use on their soldiers, pays for soldiers to take leave and go on vacation, and on and on.  And in 2008, the most recent year for which CharityNavigator has data, this group raised over $48 million and gave over $31 million dollars to Israel’s occupation army.

Meet the American Friends of LIBI, another 501(c)3 organization committed to “strengthening the defense of Israel by caring for the educational, medical, and social needs of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Force.”  LIBI was founded by the right-wing hardliners Menachem Begin and Rafael Eitan in 1980, and the American friends organization was founded in 2006 to “provide protective gear to the soldiers fighting terrorism.”  This organization funds a variety of military field equipment, including armored ambulances, special medical vests and gear for field medics, “sophisticated equipment and supplies for Unit 669, the IDF’s helicopter-borne search and rescue unit”, financial support to lone soldiers without families in Israel, nationalist educational programs to cultivate “soldiers [sic] understanding and appreciation for the unique history of the Jewish people and their special bond to the Land”, and physical construction of medical and recreational centers on military-owned land.  Among other initiatives, this group has funded medical equipment for Sayeret 13, the commando unit responsible for the bloody assault on the Mavi Marmara flotilla.  One of this organization’s current efforts is to convince Jewish American children to donate some of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah money to the Israeli army.

These are just two example of such organizations, but there are many others as well.

Is it not striking that the US grants charity status to organizations whose sole mission is to support the army of another country?   Are there any other examples of US tax-exempt organizations providing financial and material support to foreign armies?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dr Nick January 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Dear Americans, please donate to the Australian Army, so that my tax dollars can go to something else, like health care or education, or climate change mitigation.

But what’s worse? The USA allowing tax-deductible donation by its citizens to support the Israeli army, or the US government just giving Israel big piles of money/weapons? If a government is so willing to help another country, its hardly surprising that they let their citizens do the same.

2 Yaniv Reich January 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm

An excellent point, but its hard to imagine that the US would tolerate tax-exempt organizations giving $30 million to, say, the Saudi royal army. Just another way Israel is “singled out”.

3 Clif Brown January 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I second Dr. Nick’s comment, but would add that these groups don’t fund weaponry or training, which the U.S. govt has been known to do directly, but only services for the soldiers that are not combat related.

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