Mondoweiss / March 16, 2021
A GOP lawmaker is claiming that a popular fundraising app used by the BDS movement could be funneling money to terrorists and is calling for the Biden administration to investigate.
A GOP lawmaker is claiming that a popular fundraising app could be funneling money to terrorists and is calling for the Biden administration to investigate.
ActBlue is an organization that allows Democratic candidates and progressives groups to raise money. One of the groups that uses the platform is the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). Last week, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that falsely claims the BNC is an “umbrella organization for foreign terrorist groups” and asserts that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) “runs counter to our nation’s interests.”
Burchett told right-wing website The Daily Caller that he “just discovered” this information. Burchett’s discovery comes just weeks after the Zachor Legal Institute (a pro-Israel “legal think tank” that targets BDS) sent a letter to ActBlue, claiming that BDS has “genocidal aims” and that the movement looks to ethnically cleanse Jews.
In a 2018 interview with Jewish News Syndicate, Burchett was asked about BDS. “They totally disgust me,” he said. “I remain loyal to Israel.”
A broader campaign
Last month the Act.IL app began lobbying ActBlue to drop the BNC from its fundraising platform. The campaign claimed that the group has “terrorist organizations as part of its leadership.”
Act.IL (which has been referred to as “Israel’s million dollar troll army”) allows its users to gain points and prizes by defending Israel online and attacking its critics. In 2019, Mondoweiss interviewed Michael Bueckert, who tracks the app’s campaigns through a Twitter account. Bueckert explained how the app was created by the Israeli government, in partnership with U.S. pro-Israel lobby groups funded by the late Sheldon Adelson.
“The app was funded in part by the Israeli government,” said Bueckert. “I think the government paid for the development of the website that it was hosted on and paid for a lot of advertising including sponsored content, like sponsored articles in Israeli newspapers that look like they are just regular reporting, but were paid for by the Israeli government essentially. At the time the developers of the app were talking about how they were working with the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security service] and, you know, Israeli defense officials to identify targets online and to have a sort of duty to craft responses.”
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss