By Phil Giraldi
It seems that everywhere one turns these days it is possible to find a new subterfuge whereby the state of Israel is able to extract still more money from the American taxpayer. Israel receives $3.8 billion annually in defense assistance directly from the U.S. Treasury, a sum that is guaranteed for the next 10 years and which works out to $10 million per day. That sum has of late been supplemented by an additional $500 million per year to help improve the Jewish state’s missile defense system, which directly competes with products developed and sold by American defense contractors like Raytheon. That means that not only are U.S. jobs lost, Washington is basically subsidizing the competitor’s development costs. It is not imaginable that the United States would do anything similar with any other country, much less with a pariah state that is not even technically an ally.
And there’s more. Various co-production schemes and tax breaks approved by Congress and the White House, which are rarely if ever discussed in the media, virtually treble the benefits that Israel receives indirectly from the U.S. taxpayer. There are approximately 600 organizations in the United States that advocate openly for Israel. Groups like Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) act openly in promoting Israeli interests, but are nevertheless granted IRS 501(c)3 tax exempt status as educational or charitable non-profit foundations. Some of the self-proclaimed charities linked to Israel are clearly fraudulent, while others actually support illegal activity, to include the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, which violate both international law and the Geneva Conventions on war crimes.
It should surprise no one to learn that even given the current economic and healthcare crisis in the U.S., Israeli start-up companies and affinity groups that lobby in the United States have been declared eligible to receive Covid-19 related money under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The payments have been authorized through the multi-trillion-dollar CARES Business Assistance Program for foreign companies as long as they have a facility in the United States and have some salaried U.S. employees. The loans can be as much as two-and-a-half times the cost of wages actually paid to employees up to a total of $10 million and are issued at 1% interest that is repayable within two years, with a six-month grace period before payments are due. The loan would be converted into a grant if the company can demonstrate that the money was actually spent on salaries that prevented terminating employees.
Predictably, Israeli-connected law firms in the U.S. were immediately out of the starting gates, with firms in New York City both advising and helping arrange immediate submission of applications. Because Israeli companies are well wired into power brokers in Washington and New York, they inevitably have had insider help applying early and obtaining immediate approvals for loans that struggling American small businesses will not receive. Reportedly 1,000 Jewish and Israel linked entities have already received $500 million but then proceeded to lay off American employees anyway after they received their money. There has been, of course, no reciprocity of tax breaks or loans for U.S. companies operating in Israel.
Grant Smith at the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy (IRMEP) describes the extent to which Israel has taken advantage of CARES. Smith reports that “Israel lobby organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America ($2-5 million), Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ($2-5 million), and the Israeli American Council ($1-2 million) are grabbing huge loans from the CARES Act PPP program. According to SBA data, Israel’s Bank Leumi has doled out a quarter- to a half-billion dollars under the program, despite being called out for operating in the occupied West Bank. It has given sweetheart deals to the Israeli company Oran Safety Glass (which defrauded the U.S. Army on bulletproof glass contracts) and Energix, which operates power plants in the occupied Golan Heights and West Bank.”
Grant has also identified PPP money going to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), which inter alia arranges highly controversial “terrorism” training for American police, the Jewish National Fund, which supports Israel’s illegal settlements, and the Israel on Campus Coalition, which has harassed students critical of the Jewish state at American colleges and universities. Several of the organizations being supported with American taxpayer money are little more than front organizations promoting Israeli interests in the U.S., which should be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938, but the Justice Department does not enforce FARA when it comes to Israel.
Note that an Israeli bank has somehow been able to grant as much as a half-billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money under the PPP program, all of it going to Israeli businesses and other Israel-linked entities. One wonders what the screening process was like, if there even was one. And note that the Zionist Organization of America is essentially an Israeli lobbying group. Oran Safety Glass, which “won” a Pentagon contract for bulletproof glass for U.S. Army vehicles even though it could not produce the glass, also gets money.
But the most outrageous grant is to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), an organization that raises money in the U.S. for the Israeli military. FIDF has 14 regional offices in the United States and operates under the slogan “Their job is to look after Israel. Our job is to look after them.” In 2017 alone FIDF had assets totaling $290 million, so it clearly does not need the money currently, but took it anyway. Donations to FIDF are predictably tax deductible as it claims to be a charity and the proceeds of its fundraising are also tax exempt, going directly to the Israeli Defense Ministry.
FIDF is not at all shy about what it does. A Nov. 2, 2017 Hollywood gala event hosted by FIDF celebrated the IDF and raised funds to support its mission in Israel itself and in the occupied West Bank. Entertainment industry Jewish royalty was thick on the ground, the grub was strictly kosher, and billionaires competed to see who could give the most to such a worthy cause. The 1,200 attendees at the Beverly Hilton Hotel donated a record $53.8 million, with Oracle founder Larry Ellison leading the pack with a contribution of $16.6 million.
Israeli media mogul Haim Saban, most generous supporter of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, served as host of the event and donated $5 million. Two weeks earlier, a similar gathering of 1,200 in New York City dubbed “A Night of Heroes,” attended by GOP major donor casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, raised $35 million, $7 million coming from Adelson personally.
One might well ask how it is possible that the American taxpayer should subsidize a foreign military organization that is regularly accused of war crimes in its ongoing brutal and genocidal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem. One might also wonder how benefiting an organization that continues a military occupation in opposition to multiple United Nations resolutions that have been endorsed by Washington gets any kind of tax break at all. And finally, one might reasonably ask why an organization that already gets in excess of $3.8 billion annually directly from the U.S. Treasury needs more money to allegedly provide creature comforts for its soldiers.
The answer is that powerful Jewish billionaires in the United States make it all happen, just as they suppress negative press relating to Israel in the U.S. media and skew American government decision-making to support policies favorable to the Jewish state. Everyone in Hollywood, New York, and Washington knows that to cross Israel is to court ruin while to praise Israel is career enhancing.
The millions of dollars that have gone to an organization like FIDF should be greeted with outrage coming from all across the political spectrum. Where is the concern from the White House, Congress, and the media, which are all silent, even as an estimated 100,000 U.S. small businesses meanwhile go bust? Something is very wrong in the United States when FIDF and Jewish/Israeli lobbying groups get money that was intended to help American citizens who are struggling to survive.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. His other articles appear on the website of “The Unz Review.”