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Republican senators want the IRS to investigate pro-Palestinian nonprofits

(New York Jewish Week) – A group of 16 Republican senators are asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate nonprofits that support National Students for Justice in Palestine – including the group’s fiscal sponsor, the nonprofit Wespac in the suburbs of New York.

The senators’ letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, dated May 9, says the agency should investigate whether the nonprofits, by providing money to the NSJP, are supporting terrorism — which would violate their tax exemption.

“We need not remind you of the horrific support that NSJP chapters across the country have expressed for Hamas, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization,” the letter said. “That support has exploded in recent weeks during demonstrations led by the NSJP chapter.”

The recent wave of pro-Palestinian campus demonstrations — many organized by SJP chapters — has made the investigation particularly urgent, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, lead signatory of the letter, told the newspaper. Jewish Week of New York. A range of Jewish groups have condemned the protests for attacking Jews with anti-Semitic rhetoric and creating a hostile atmosphere in schools across the country.

“The anti-Semitism that has emerged on college campuses from coast to coast is fundamentally un-American,” Ernst said in a statement. our own shores.”

The IRS is notoriously underfunded when it comes to enforcement, making it unlikely the call will lead to an investigation anytime soon. Still, the senators’ call underlines how closely they are monitoring organizations known to be linked to the protest movement, which many of them have labeled anti-Semitic.

Call for an NSJP investigation

Police arrest a pro-Palestinian protester on the USC campus in Los Angeles, California, US, April 24, 2024, in this still image from a video (credit: REUTERS TV)

Other signatories included Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mitt Romney of Utah.

The letter cites a recent lawsuit filed by survivors of the October 7 Hamas attack, alleging that NSJP collaborated with Hamas and promoted its messages in the months after the attack. It also points to an existing investigation into one of the groups by the Virginia attorney general.

The letter comes seven months after dozens of Jewish groups signed a letter in mid-October asking schools to withdraw funding for the SJP over its support of Hamas’ attack. On October 12, NSJP released a “toolkit” hailing the October 7 invasion as a “historic victory,” and the senators’ letter states that the pro-Palestinian student group has continued to promote Hamas in the months since, including on campus. protests.

Wespac and the IRS did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The other nonprofits mentioned by the senators are the California-based Tides Foundation and the AJP Educational Foundation in Virginia. The Tides Foundation donated $35,000 to Wespac in 2022.

Wespac’s tax exemption allows it to support a number of pro-Palestinian groups. The organization, a small nonprofit whose mission is “current affairs education,” quietly facilitates funding for NSJP along with Within Our Lifetime, which has regularly organized pro-Palestinian street protests and also supported Hamas’ attack.

Wespac – which is chaired by an anti-Zionist Jew named Howard Horowitz – facilitates the groups’ funding by acting as a fiscal sponsor, allowing it to receive tax-exempt donations and grants for organizations that do not have nonprofit status, including NSJP. The arrangement allows NSJP to keep its finances out of public view and does not require the budget sponsor to provide details of the funding it channels to other groups.

In its most recent tax returns, which cover September 2022 through August 2023, Wespac reported $2.3 million in revenue, mostly from donations and grants. It does not disclose its fiscal sponsorship. The Anti-Defamation League said in a 2022 report that Wespac sponsored a total of 15 groups related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, far more than for any other cause. It is unclear how many groups it sponsors in total.

The other groups it sponsors include the American Palestinian Community Network, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the Palestinian Feminist Collective, the Palestine Freedom Project and Adalah-NY, all of which collect donations online through Wespac. Wespac has sponsored NSJP since at least 2019 and Within Our Lifetime since 2020, according to archived web pages.