ACLJ Formally Responds to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Blatantly Antisemitic Attack on Pro-Israel Charities – Noting BDS, Not Pro-Israel Groups, Should Have Tax-Exempt Status Revoked


Jordan Sekulow

August 30, 2021

5 min read




Hateful antisemitism is on the rise in America. We’ve witnessed shocking physical assaults on innocent Jewish Americans on our city streets.

But while horrifying, these attacks shouldn’t be all that surprising when so-called “progressive” politicians like Rep. Rashida Tlaib are spewing their antisemitic venom in our own U.S. House of Representatives. Now Tlaib is targeting charities and nonprofit organizations that support Israel – including your ACLJ.

The Left’s leadership, including President Biden, refuse to do anything to shut down this dangerous behavior. But the ACLJ is taking action to fight back against Rep. Tlaib’s harmful antisemitic actions.

Let’s all be clear: Antisemitism is hateful and dangerous. Like ALL forms of racism, there can be ZERO TOLERANCE for it, especially within our own government. And yet Rep. Tlaib, along with other members of the so-called “Squad” in Congress which claim to be the epitome of forward-thinking, progressive Leftists, are totally comfortable introducing dangerous antisemitic policy proposals.

We told you how Rep. Tlaib and seven other far-Left Members of Congress recently sent a demand letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging the Treasury Secretary to revoke the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from pro-Israel organizations.

The letter, which was signed by Reps. Tlaib, Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Betty McCollum, Mark Pocan, and Tlaib’s fellow “Squad” members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley stated:

We write to express our extreme concern that U.S. charities are funding and providing direct support to Israeli organizations that are working to expand and perpetuate Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in violation of international law, including supporting the dispossession and forced displacement of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods. We are concerned that these policies violate U.S. obligations under international law, as well as federal tax law.

Dripping with antisemitic dog whistles, deception, and misdirection, Tlaib’s letter went on to say:

Charitable purposes, by definition, cannot be unlawful or aid and abet serious breaches of international law or internationally recognized human rights, and U.S. -based entities must be prohibited from using federal tax law to help perpetrate violations against Palestinians in direct contravention of both international law and the basic principles behind U.S. charitable law.

If Rep. Tlaib succeeds in her campaign to revoke the tax-exempt status of charities and nonprofits that have ties to Israel, many valued organizations that serve vast communities will not survive. And to be clear, the pro-Israel groups like the ACLJ will be targeted as well. In fact, we have an office in Jerusalem.

We heard her antisemitic cry and we have answered back, sending our own legal letter to Sec. Yellen, explaining that Rep. Tlaib’s letter was not only offensive and antisemitic, it was “egregiously wrong on all of the relevant points of law, policies, and facts.”

As our letter states:

Charitable organizations that provide support to Jewish people living in the State of Israel, including in the disputed territories, clearly meet all of the requirements for tax-exempt status. They are engaged exclusively in charitable or educational activities which do not violate any U.S. laws or clearly defined and established national public policies. Moreover, even if there existed a clearly defined and established national public policy against Israeli settlement construction on the basis that it violates international law, that policy would have nothing to do with U.S. citizens supporting educational opportunities, humanitarian assistance, nutritional support, and medical assistance to people in those communities, which are the activities being conducted by the charities identified in the letter.

Our letter also pointed out that Rep. Tlaib’s antisemitic request has been attempted and rightly dismissed without merit before:

In no case has the IRS been forced to examine and/or revoke the tax-exempt status of an organization based upon alleged violations of "international law," but this is not the first time that someone has tried this tactic in these very circumstances. Had the authors only done the barest minimum of research they might have found the two cases in which plaintiffs sought such relief based upon allegations that a charitable organization’s support for Israeli settlements violated U.S. and international laws. Both were dismissed by the courts in favor of the IRS and the charitable organization.

The true intentions of Rep. Tlaib and her comrades are quite clear. Tlaib has let her anti-Israel bias be known loud and clear. From wearing a shirt that erased Israel from the map to stating she “got a calming feeling” when she thought about the Holocaust. Just last month she spoke to a Socialist convention and referred to multiple antisemitic tropes about Jews. It is well past time that her racist dogma be silenced in Congress. We have called upon Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to censure Rep. Tlaib, citing her multiple incidents of antisemitism.

And yet, defying all rationality, instead of censuring Rep. Tlaib and her antisemitic colleagues like Rep. Ilhan Omar, Speaker Pelosi and other progressives cower and do nothing. In some cases, they shrug their shoulders and simply excuse the abhorrent behavior.

Enough is enough. Antisemitism cannot be tolerated or allowed in the House of Representatives or any other branch of government. We continue to demand that Rep. Tlaib and any antisemitic representatives be censured.

As for the letter, we are hopeful that Sec. Yellen will side with the truth and deny Rep. Tlaib’s request. We did point out however that in one sense, Tlaib is right; there are some groups that might warrant losing their tax-exempt status, under the rules of the IRS, such as the U.S.-based Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement of which Rep. Tlaib is a vocal supporter.

Our letter importantly noted that BDS “funnels money to terrorist groups that specialize in killing Jews and that call for Jewish genocide, including Hamas. This is against the law, and, of course, public policy.” We made it clear that we would be more than happy to provide more information as to why BDS should be investigated and have its tax-exempt status revoked.