Greenfield: The IRS Came After Pro-Israel Groups, But Protected Hamas
David Boim was only 17 years old when he was shot and killed while waiting at a bus stop north of Jerusalem. The American teenager’s parents, Stanley and Joyce, have spent a quarter of a century since trying to bring Hamas, the Islamic terror group behind the attack, and its funders in the United States to justice. Their lawsuits have targeted, among others, the Holy Land Foundation which was found in federal court to have provided“material aid to Hamas” in what became the largest terrorism financing prosecution case in the United States. The Justice Department stated that, “from its inception, HLF existed to support Hamas. Before HLF was designated as a Specially Designated Terrorist by the Treasury Department and shut down in December 2001, it was the largest U.S. Muslim charity.” It was also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The IRS had allowed money used to fund Islamic terrorists to be funneled through a tax-deductible organization. And that was not the first time or the last. The Boims are still fighting in court over what they allege are new non-profits that are really ‘alter egos’ that were set up after the Hamas fundraisers lost criminal and civil lawsuits. One of those is American Muslims for Palestine. The Boim family lawsuit alleges that, “American Muslims for Palestine is merely a new name for the same terrorism funding enterprise”. Last year, a federal judge in Illinois allowed the case against AMP to move forward. But the bereaved family are not the only ones accusing AMP. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that many “high-level and mid-level figures” from the terror charities “gravitated to a new organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).” Schanzer, who had formerly worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the Treasury Department, then went on to list the connections to Hamas and its front groups. He told Congress about the case of AMP board member Salah Sarsour, an alleged relative of antisemitic figure Linda Sarsour, who told Al-Jazeera “that the conference aims to keep up with and support the Palestinian people’s continuous intifada.” A 2001 FBI memo to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) describes how Sarsour’s brother, after being arrested by Israel in 1998, told Israeli officials about Sarsour’s “involvement with Hamas and fundraising activities of HLFRD [Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development].” American Muslims for Palestine officially denies everything. At its events, it’s another matter. An American Muslims for Palestine conference panel titled, “Do Occupied People Have the Right to Resist their Occupation?” asserted that “it is well recognized under international law that an occupied people has the right to resist its occupation by any means necessary.” “Any means” implies support for terrorism. The panel further complained that “the US has designated most Palestinian groups as terrorist organizations” and invited attendees to, “come navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.” The IRS is certainly navigating that fine line by maintaining AMP’s tax deductible status. Like the dismantled Hamas fundraising groups, American Muslims for Palestine receives tax-deductible funds. It does this through the Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation (AJP). AJP got its tax-deductible status in 2010. A year earlier, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, a journalist, applied for tax exempt status for her pro-Israel group, Z Street. The IRS informed her that it “has to give special scrutiny to organizations connected to Israel.” The lawsuit originating from the Z Street case helped roll back the curtain on the IRS bias against conservatives and pro-Israel Jewish groups. Lori Lowenthal Marcus told Front Page Magazine that, “One of the excuses given to Z Street by an IRS official was that the IRS had to make sure we were not ‘engaged in terrorism’ because we mentioned ‘terror’ in our mission statement. The part of Z Street’s mission that mentioned terror? ‘We will not engage with, negotiate with or appease terrorists.’ Yet Z Street’s application for 501(c)(3) status was sidelined for seven years while Z Street litigated the IRS’s unconstitutional application of Viewpoint Discrimination against us.” Despite the connections between AMP and the largest terrorism financing prosecution case in the country, the IRS appeared to have no such reservations about the anti-Israel group. Was AMP ever asked by the IRS about its views on Islamic terrorism? Due to the inaction of the IRS, the AMP’s networks and influence continue to expand. AJP and AMP have created AJP Action, a 501(c)(4), which lobbies on Capitol Hill and endorses politicians: including Rep. Betty McCollum. Apart from its hostility to Israel, it’s also opposed to the Palestinian Authority, complaining that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has been backed by Israel and the U.S., “as opposed to his Hamas rivals.” An AJP Action policy paper critical of Fatah’s Palestinian Authority agonizes that security “has often meant repressing members of Hamas to protect Fatah’s power”. AMP was founded by Hatem Bazian, who was once quoted calling for the mass murder of Jews. He still serves as the chairman of AMP’s national board and heads the AJP Educational Foundation. Bazian had previously fundraised for one of the Hamas charities and had tweeted an articleclaiming that, “The Europeans who fought Nazism with arms were labeled ‘terrorist’ by Hitler. Hamas is fighting against the occupation of Palestinian lands and is labeled ‘terrorist.” AMP’s National Policy Director Osama Abuirshaid took part in a conference with top Hamas officials in 2021. He had tweeted, “Whether you love Hamas or hate her, her opponents respect her. She stands by her principles and negotiates from a position of strength.” Taher Herzallah, AMP’s Associate Director of Outreach & Grassroots Organizing, posted on Facebook that, “Hamas’ rockets are an oppressed people’s audible cry for help.” At an AMP event in New Jersey this year, Herzallah complained that, “they make us look like terrorists if we fight back, if we throw a rock, or resist. This is a God-given right.” “Come navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism” indeed. The issue with the IRS isn’t simply that it maintains a ‘hands off’ policy toward nonprofits, but that it displays a transparent political bias in selecting which organizations it goes after. The IRS targeted Z Street and other pro-Israel groups even though there was no basis for suspecting any kind of illegal activity, but it carefully looked away from the rise of American Muslims for Palestine despite the links to previous nonprofits that had faced criminal prosecution, an extended lawsuit by the family of a terror victim and congressional testimony by a former Treasury Department specialist in sanctioning terrorist fundraisers. Americans deserve an IRS that objectively enforces the law rather than picking and choosing its targets for partisan political reasons. As long as the IRS continues to be aligned with the Left, it will also be aligned with the Islamic terrorists who have become integrated within the Left. And that makes the IRS a threat to national security.