Israel: racist Jewish settler group misusing charitable funds to displace Palestinians

Middle East Monitor  /  October 3, 2023

Charitable donations from the US, Canada, UK and elsewhere are funding violence and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the Campaign to Defund Racism has revealed in its new investigative report. The organization uncovered details of how an extremist Israeli organization called Regavim has been exploiting charitable donations to advance the dispossession and oppression of indigenous Palestinians.

Regavim is an Israel–based NGO co-founded by far-right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich. Its aim is to expand Jewish control of land across historic Palestine by influencing Israeli administrative, judicial, legislative and military institutions. These efforts, says the campaign group, ultimately work to dispossess Palestinian and other non–Jewish communities of their land. Regavim also gathers data on Palestinian communities, publishes racist, ahistorical and misrepresentative reports, formulates right–wing policy proposals, and engages in legal proceedings to achieve its objectives.

Campaign to Defund Racism describes Regavim as being part of a larger “international non-profit system that continues to play a critical role in advancing Israel’s program of settler–colonialism and indigenous erasure,” before outlining “how these organizations represent the tip of the spear of the Zionist movement.”

The Israeli NGO relies heavily on tax-exempt contributions from the US, Canada and elsewhere to subsidize its efforts to displace Palestinian communities. The group exists solely to stoke violence and hate; it also conducts aggressive surveillance operations against Palestinian villages, using drones to monitor construction activity and coordinate home demolitions with the Israeli occupation authorities.

It is also said to be behind racist propaganda campaigns that portray Palestinian natives falsely as “invaders” in their own land and has pushed legal efforts for over a decade to demolish entire Bedouin communities like Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank.

The Campaign to Defund Racism report further exposes Regavim’s close ties to right-wing Israeli politicians; its organizing of violent Jewish settler mobs; and its lobbying for harsh policies to deprive Palestinians of basic rights. Revealing details of how Regavim has used its non-profit status to orchestrate religious mobs, the report cited the May 2021 attacks on Palestinians in Lod, leading to injuries and fatalities. Hundreds of Jewish extremists attacked homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Despite obscuring its funding sources, analysis shows that Regavim depends significantly on foreign donors funneling tax-deductible donations through intermediaries like the Central Fund of Israel. The Campaign to Defund Racism claims that there appear to be substantial gaps in Regavim’s budget reporting.

The “charity’s” surveillance tactics, displacement agenda, fostering of violence and financial opacity clearly violate the basic tenets for charitable organizations under US and Canadian tax laws, says the report. It calls for the relevant authorities to revoke the non-profit status of its enablers and halt the flow of donations that bankroll human rights abuse and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

The flow of charitable donations from Western states to racist Israeli settler organizations carries significant and far–reaching implications, the report concludes. These groups utilize such funds to finance activities that perpetuate structural oppression and systemic violence, ultimately reinforcing settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Regavim is just one of many pro-settlement groups misusing charitable status to dispossess Palestinians. As the Campaign to Defund Racism report notes, “When funds from international donors are channeled into Israeli organizations that uphold and perpetuate violence and oppression, it not only exacerbates violence, but also accelerates the erasure of indigenous communities.”