In “The other IRS scandal” John took a look at the IRS treatment of pro-Israel charities. The experience of some pro-Israel groups suggested that they had been subject to harassing and discriminatory treatment based on their support of policies that conflict with those of the Obama administration. John called for The House committees that looking into the IRS scandal to put this topic high on their agenda.
My daughter Eliana advances the story a bit further in “The IRS vs. pro-Israel groups.” Moving beyond the complaints of pro-Israel groups themselves to testimony from the IRS itself, Eliana reports:
Applications of pro-Israel groups for tax-exempt status are routinely routed to an antiterrorism unit within the Internal Revenue Service for additional screening, according to the testimony of a Cincinnati-based IRS agent.
Asked whether Jewish or pro-Israel applications are treated differently from other applications, Gary Muthert told House Oversight Committee investigators that they are considered “specialty cases” and that “probably” all are sent to an IRS unit that examines groups for potential terrorist ties.
Muthert’s testimony lumps pro-Israel groups into the same basket as all groups with any “foreign activity.” Yet no pro-Israel group has been associated with terrorism. That remains the domain of such terrorist front groups as the Holy Land Foundation and its unindicted co-conspirators including CAIR and ISNA. I wrote about CAIR’s appearance in the case against the Holy Land Foundation in “Coming clean about CAIR.”
An open question remains. Has Obama’s IRS applied similar scrutiny to pro-Palestinian groups? In August 2010 the Treasury Department issued a statement marking the beginning of Ramadan with these evocative paragraphs:
The Treasury Department fully supports the ability of American Muslims – and Muslims worldwide – to fulfill their religious obligations through charitable giving and seeks to advance charitable giving at home and abroad, while protecting the charitable sector from the threat posed by those who seek to abuse this sacred obligation. In recent years, Treasury has strengthened its partnership with the charitable sector and donor community to promote transparency and to safeguard against such abuse.
The Treasury Department will continue to work closely with the charitable sector and Muslim American communities to promote our common goals of safe and effective charitable activity and to protect the sector from exploitation by terrorist organizations. We look forward to the continued development of this partnership.
Obama himself vowed to work with Muslims in the United States to facilitate “zakat” (Islamic charitable giving, under which such outfits as the Holy Land Foundation had operated) in his Cairo speech. Has the IRS treated Muslim charities on par with pro-Israel charities? It seems absurd that they should be treated similarly, but one wonders whether they have achieved this level of parity in the Age of Obama.