Will Amnesty lose non-profit status for its ‘anti-Israel activities?

“We will use every means we have, including revoking tax benefits, against any organization that will harm the State of Israel or IDF soldiers,” says finance mMinister.

July 30, 2017 18:34
2 minute read.
Amnesty International

Activists of Amnesty International demonstrate to show their support with the Syrian people at the Fontaine des Innocentes in Paris May 29, 2012.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Amnesty International’s Israeli donors may no longer get a tax break for their contributions in light of its campaigning against Israeli policies, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Sunday.

“We will use every means we have, including revoking tax benefits, against any organization that will harm the State of Israel or IDF soldiers,” he said in response to a question about Amnesty.

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Last week, Likud MK Miki Zohar sent a letter to Kahlon arguing that Amnesty violates the law, under which a finance minister can remove the tax break on donations to organizations that call to boycott Israel or any part of Israel.

“Unfortunately, Amnesty defines itself as a human rights organization but behaves in the opposite way,” Zohar wrote. “The organization constantly persecutes IDF soldiers and defames them. In the past, they said IDF soldiers starve Palestinian children.

The organization supports draft dodgers and infiltrators and acts with all its might against Israel.

And despite this, its tax benefit as a non-profit organization is renewed, because of the argument that these are legal actions.”

The Likud lawmaker pointed to an Amnesty campaign titled “Israel’s Occupation: 50 Years of Dispossession.”

That effort called on the international community to sanction products from the West Bank and to impose an arms embargo on Israel, claiming that Israel commits war crimes and that the settlements are a war crime.

Amnesty International spokesman Gil Naveh said the organization is calling for sanctions and not a boycott.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that the two are closely tied, Naveh said the organization does not have a position on BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The international NGO called Zohar’s letter a “populist initiative,” saying it will officially respond to the Finance Ministry if the matter becomes relevant.

“Until then, we invite the public to enter our website and learn the truth about the things said and not rely on empty slogans of populists who don’t always prioritize the truth and accuracy,” Amnesty stated.

Controversy over tax breaks for Amnesty’s donors erupted in the Knesset Finance Committee when the time came to renew the benefit for the NGO in October 2016.

Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich called to revoke the benefit, leading to heated debate between the coalition and opposition. In the end, a compromise was reached whereby Amnesty’s tax break was only renewed for a year, as opposed to the usual three years.

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