Tue 21 May 2024 1:38 pm - Jerusalem Time

New York lawmakers relaunch bill to stop charities funding Israeli settlers

More than $60m from these charities has been sent to settler groups

A group of state-level lawmakers in New York have resubmitted a piece of legislation that would bar any charities in the state from sending tax-deductible money to Israeli settlers and Israeli military units in Gaza.

The Not On Our Dime! Act, reintroduced on Monday by New York assembly member Zohran Mamdani and Senator Jabari Brisport, comes in light of reporting from late last year that US residents have been able to raise funds for Israeli military units involved in the war on Gaza, as well as settler groups operating in the occupied West Bank.

The legislation, first introduced last year, would give the state attorney general the authority to sue and dissolve not-for-profit organisations that are found to be using their tax-deductible donations to support organisations funding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank which are illegal under international law.

It would also give Palestinians harmed by settler organisations funded by New York-based charities the right to seek damages in American courts.

This time around, the bill would extend this authority to Israeli military units operating in Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

“The intention of tax-exempt status is to incentivize charitable giving, not to finance the murder and violent displacement of civilians," Mamdani said in a statement shared with Middle East Eye.

"As Israeli settler violence surges - displacing and killing hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank - and the Israeli military carries out a genocide in Gaza, New York State subsidizes financial support for both."

Mamdani, the third Muslim to be elected to the state assembly, said "the least we can do is heed the call to ensure that there are no tax breaks for genocide and an ever-growing list of war crimes".

The lawmakers noted that there have been documented cases of registered charities in the state of New York funding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, while "enjoying tax breaks from New York State".

More than $60m in money from these charities has been sent to these settler groups, including the Long Island-based One Israel Fund that raised over $2m for "thermal drones and surveillance cameras for settlers".

Last year, the bill was met critically, as 66 lawmakers signed an open letter condemning the legislation, claiming that it “attacks” Jewish organisations.

However, support for the bill has grown since then, with two additional legislators signing the bill: Senator Julia Salazar and assembly member Emily Gallagher.

“Charities that perpetuate violations of international law and basic human rights should not enjoy tax-exempt status in New York State," Gallagher said.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the US congresswoman from New York, also signalled her support for the legislation.


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New York lawmakers relaunch bill to stop charities funding Israeli settlers