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State Dept. Sending Taxpayer Funds to Nonprofit Supporting Anti-Netanyahu Protests

Thousands of Israelis protest the government's judicial overhaul bills outside of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 20, 2023. (Photo: Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Thousands of Israelis protest the government’s judicial overhaul bills outside of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Feb. 20, 2023. (Photo: Gili Yaari/Flash90)

New funding documents from Israel reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon found that the United States government is allegedly funneling taxpayer money to the left-wing Israeli group bankrolling protests against current Likud Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu and his conservative coalition over the ongoing judicial overhaul.

According to the documents, since 2020, Foggy Bottom, a government and cultural hub near the U.S. State Department, has sent over $38,000 to the Israeli nonprofit Movement for Quality Government (M.Q.G.), which has supported nationwide anti-Netanyahu protests that have resulted in protesters targeting with Israeli police and Netanyahu’s family, including his wife, Sara.

The Israeli nonprofit organization is trying to take down Netanyahu’s conservative government over support for significant judiciary reforms to the Israeli supreme court that would limit the judiciary’s longstanding history of being a left-wing institution.

According to reports, M.Q.G has received grants of around $10,000 to $15,000 in the past three years, with the U.S. State Department being the group’s primary foreign donor. The organization’s funding came from membership dues and donations by charities.

The group says it is “not willing, by principle, to receive any assistance from the governmental system” but does not have a similar rule against foreign government funding.

This year, M.Q.G. petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to kick out Netanyahu, claiming that the Likud Prime Minister was unfit for office given the ongoing investigations of alleged political corruption and bribery.

According to reports, the U.S. State Department confirmed that taxpayer funds were sent to the organization, describing it as nonpartisan.

Despite the information that the organization opposes the Israeli Prime Minister, experts are concerned about how the group obtained such monetary support.

Traditionally, the U.S. government avoids funding foreign partisan groups to dodge claims of foreign interference. Yet, some point out that given the progressive foreign policy attitudes of the Biden administration and officials in the White House, members of the State Department have been very critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his conservative coalition.

Speaking to the Washington Free Beacon about the latest developments, Indiana Republican Representative, and member of the House Armed Services Committee Jim Banks, said that the State Department should “never fund foreign partisan organizations in allied democracies.”

“If the shoe was on the other foot, the Biden administration would accuse Israel of interfering in our elections. Congress should absolutely review the State Department’s potential funding of partisan politics in Israel.”

Officials at the State Department have downplayed the funding for M.Q.G. and did not answer questions about whether American taxpayer funds could have been used to support anti-Netanyahu protests.

An official at the State Department told the Washington Free Beacon that the agency has “provided small grants to the Movement for Quality Government, including a grant signed in 2020 during the previous administration and continued under the Biden administration that focused on teaching civic education and supporting good governance.”

The official noted that the last batch of funding was awarded in September of last year and meant for democracy training programs in the Israeli education system.

The State Department said that M.Q.G. was a “respected, independent, nonpartisan, grassroots non-governmental organization committed to promoting values of democracy, transparency, good governance, and civic participation.”

In 2020, the U.S. government provided funds to the organization near the end of the Trump administration.

According to The Free Beacon, a former senior American official familiar with the matter said that the grant was most likely approved by career State Department officials, with funds going unnoticed by the Trump administration appointees who could have prevented such activities.

Gerald Steinberg, founder of N.G.O. Monitor, a watchdog group that monitors government activities, told The Free Beacon that “few, if any funders, even attempt to monitor the actual use of grants.”

“If a foreign government had funded a similar N.G.O. operating in the United States, the Biden administration would have taken immediate action,” he said.

Following the election of Joe Biden to the presidency, experts familiar with American-Israeli relations explained that the President’s progressive political appointees in the White House and State Department would change America’s relationship with the Jewish State, particularly with regard to the election of Bibi Netanyahu and his government.

Experts note that the latest developments are nothing new given that during the Obama administration, the U.S. State Department was caught erasing emails that showed it funded a progressive liberal group called OneVoice Movement, which was waging an anti-Netanyahu campaign during that time.

Related Story: U.S. Tells UNSC that Israeli Actions on Temple Mount are Unacceptable

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