US House Representative Rashida Tlaib has caused a stir after pointing out on Twitter that illegal Jewish settlements currently receive tax-exempt status in America, a contravention of international law.
In an open letter, she called on US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to examine the legitimacy of the status of US-based entities supporting settlements that perpetuate the forced removal of Palestinians from their land.
Did you know organizations funding illegal Israeli settlements currently get tax exempt status, in clear violation of international law AND US federal tax law? Treasury Dept. @SecYellen must act to enforce US law and end these organizations 501(c)(3) status. pic.twitter.com/WVfv5bx2mE
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) July 22, 2021
Tlaib is the first and only Palestinian American member of the US Congress. Throughout her term as a congresswoman, she has been consistently vocal about Israel’s racist policies and human rights violations against Palestinians.
This “501 (c) (3)” status refers to the section of the US Internal Revenue Code that permits federal tax exemption for non-profit organizations, particularly public charities, private foundations, or private operating foundations. Tlaib’s letter expressed concerns that US charities are financially supporting illegal Israeli organizations.
“Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in 1967,” she wrote, “Israeli authorities have pursued an unlawful settlement enterprise in occupied territory — an aggressive policy of seizing lands either privately owned by, or collectively used by Palestinians, and allocating them for the use and enjoyment of Jewish Israelis.”
She outlined the impact that such funding has had on Palestinians. “Israeli authorities utilize discriminatory housing, land, and property legal regimes and impermissible military justifications to dispossess Palestinians of their lands, or destroy Palestinians homes, property, and essential civilian infrastructure.”
— Mondoweiss (@Mondoweiss) July 26, 2021
The letter also highlighted the obligation of the US government to recognize and work to eliminate illegality and transgressions of international law. “The government… has a duty to not encourage or recognize violations of international humanitarian law… and must also act to end violations of international humanitarian law.”
While some Twitter users voiced their support for Tlaib, pro-Israel account holders took a less sympathetic approach.
The representative’s post comes two months after the occupation state’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza, which left 250 Palestinians dead, including 65 children. The shelling followed protests in occupied Jerusalem as Palestinians anticipated the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to evict four Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)