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Palestinian activists launch campaign to defund US-based settler organizations

More than 150 Palestinian organizations, village councils and activists have launched a petition campaign against the so-called charities registered in the US that are engaged in fundraising for Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Defund Racism petition was launched on Wednesday demanding New York Attorney General Letitia James revoke the charitable licenses of New York-based organizations that fund Israeli settler units. 

It specifically targets Israel Land Fund, the Hebron Fund, Ateret Cohanim, Friends of Ir David (Elad), and Regavim, the main organizations working in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods of East al-Quds, whose Palestinian residents are 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. “Clearly, this is not the intended outcome of US charitable tax law.”

#DefundRacism: Palestinian organizations call for action to defund U.S.-registered Zionist settler “charities”— NY4Palestine (@Ny4Palestine) July 21, 2021

Figures show just six US-based “charities” funding Israeli settlements tallied over $392 million in gross receipts on their tax forms between 1999 and 2020.

Hisham Sharabati, of the Hebron (al-Khalil) Defense Committee, said other campaigns seeking to challenge the flow of US charitable money “have been left unanswered by bureaucrats.”

“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,” he added.

Lara Kilani, the advocacy officer of the Good Shepherd Collective, highlighted the growing interest in “joint struggle” against Israeli atrocities.

“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,” Kilani added, referring the Israeli military aggression on Gaza in May.

“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,” he said.

On July 27, the NY4Palestine, a coalition of Palestine solidarity organizations in New York City and Greater Area such as Samidoun, Al-Awda NY, Within Our Lifetime and American Muslims for Palestine — NJ Chapter, will hold a protest outside James’ office in Brooklyn calling for an end to the recognition of Zionist colonial fundraisers as charities.

Most of the international community considers Israeli settlement construction illegal under international law and an obstacle to the so-called two-state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement activities in the occupied lands.

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