U.S.-based human rights group loses fundraising platform over association with Palestinian NGO

Michael Arria

Mondoweiss  /  February 23, 2023

The Alliance for Global Justice’s had its online fundraising platform shut down after complaints from a Zionist lawfare group. Is Israel’s war on human rights groups coming to the U.S.?

The group Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) announced that its ability to fundraise has been impeded over its connection to a Palestinian NGO.

AfGJ serves as a fiscal sponsor for nearly 150 non-profit organizations across the United States, including some that work in Palestine. One of those groups is Samidoun, which has established an international support network for Palestinian prisoners. In February 2021 the Israeli government added Samidoun to its “terror list” over its alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Samidoun has repeatedly denied the allegations and vowed to continue their work amid mounting political challenges. “Almost every organization, movement and even individual activist that stands for Palestinian freedom is targeted by the Israeli occupation and its leading war criminals for harassment, threats and attempts to mobilize state power to suppress an anti-colonial, anti-racist movement for justice and liberation,” said the group at the time. “We are proud to stand with all of those who face such smear campaigns and repressive attacks — by intensifying our work and coming together to confront Israeli apartheid, occupation, war crimes and colonization, and organizing for the liberation of Palestine.” 

AfGJ statement

According to a statement put out by the AfGJ, the company that processes credit card donations to the organization has blocked all transactions to the group. The move comes just weeks after an attack against AfGj ran in the right-wing Washington Examiner, and an IRS complaint against the group was filed by the pro-Israel lawfare group Zachor Legal Institute. “The Washington Examiner has come after AfGJ over the years with ridiculous accusations,” an AfGJ staff member told Mondoweiss.

AfGJ’s inability to accept online donations impacts the many groups they sponsor. “Our support of our partners in Central and South America, many of whom risk their lives every day and sometimes pay the ultimate price … our solidarity with Palestinian people who struggle for national liberation and against unjust occupation and apartheid … our work for immigration justice … our human rights school … all of this is at risk,” the group’s statement reads.

“Our staff and board collective is working overtime, under stressful conditions, to find alternatives to protect AfGJ and our projects,” it continues. “We are doing everything we can to stop this assault on our freedom and our right to organize for that more beautiful, just and sustainable world we all dream of.”

The statement also dismisses the allegations as dubious. “This is what we do not do: We do not support terrorism,” said the group. “We do not raise money nor do we give any material support to terrorist groups in Palestine or elsewhere – and we have the evidence to back this up. We do work for a just peace and an end to the real terrorism of warfare, sanctions, imperialism, global capitalism, and white supremacy.”

AfGJ’s credit card contributions were handled by a company called Salsa Labs, which provides fundraising software to nonprofit organizations. Salsa Labs was also a target of the Zachor Legal Institute, which pressured the company in January and February of 2022 over its role with AfGJ. However, although Salsa Labs provides fundraising software, it does not carry out the actual credit card transaction itself and contracts these out to a company called CardConnect.

According to a spokesperson for AfGJ it was CardConnect who cut off the organization’s ability to accept credit card donations when it ended its contract with Salsa Labs for the AfGJ account.

CardConnect’s parent company is the First Data Corporation, which is a subsidiary of Fiserv, a multinational financial technology services company. Fiserv’s CEO (and the former CEO of First Data) is Trump donor Frank Bisignano.

CardConnect did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Recent attacks on Palestine groups

This campaign against AfGJ comes less than a year after Israeli forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian civil society organizations in the occupied West Bank also over alleged ties to the PFLP. Six of those groups were designated as “terrorist institutions” by the Israeli government in October 2021.

A number of human rights organizations criticized the raids, and multiple Democratic congress members called on The White House to condemn them. “These acts are a direct result of the Biden administration’s complete failure to defend Palestinian human rights against racism and ethnic cleansing,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) at the time. “The silence by our country is enabling more death and violence. We must hold Israel accountable.”

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced a resolution calling on the U.S. House to denounce the raids. “When a government uses the label of terrorist as a weapon to silence the work of human rights organizations and advocates who courageously represent vulnerable people living in under military occupation, it is a sign of incredible weakness more aligned with an authoritarian regime than a healthy democracy,” said McCollum in a press release on the legislation. “Israel’s decision to brand these prominent Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations exposes the truth that Israel’s occupation is violent, immoral, and unjust, and that peaceful efforts to defend the rights of Palestinian children, women, farmers, or prisoners must be declared illegal.”

Israeli officials began lobbying the U.S. government to accept the terrorist designations as soon as they made them and (despite the fact they were presented with all the alleged evidence over a year ago) The White House has continued to claim they are still reviewing the information. The Biden administration has yet to publicly condemn or endorse Israel’s drastic actions.

“I think the fact is that our Israeli partners..took an action..to designate these organizations as so-called ‘terrorist organizations’,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in August 2022. “What we’ve seen publicly, what they’ve conveyed privately in recent hours, is that there’s an appropriate basis for the actions that they have taken. It will be a matter of urgency for us to review the basis for that information.”

Some have pointed out that the Biden administration’s silence on the issue helped enable the Israeli government to step up its attacks on human rights groups.

“The Biden Admin has had Israel’s ‘evidence’ for almost a year,” tweeted Foundation for Middle East Peace president Lara Friedman after Price’s comments. “It clearly knows this ‘evidence’ is BS — otherwise there is zero doubt they would have validated Israel’s designations/designated the groups themself. But knowing the evidence was BS, they appear to have taken the politically & morally cowardly approach of staying silent — an approach that amounts to foreign policy gross negligence/complicity.”

“Make no mistake: This is a Chekov’s gun situation,” she continued. “Israel put the gun on the table last October. The Biden Admin saw that gun and decided to do nothing to pressure Israel to remove it. Now, the Biden Admin cannot claim surprise when Israel aims/fires that gun at Palestinian human rights defenders.”

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss