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GOP senators demand Biden end $1 million taxpayer-funded anti-Israel grant program

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaks at the Texas Values "Faith, Family and Freedom Forum" in Sept. 2019. (Eli Imadali/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)
May 23, 2022

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and 11 other GOP lawmakers accused the Biden administration of promoting “new anti-Semitism” and demanded the administration withdraw nearly $1 million in taxpayer funding allocated for non-profit groups to investigate Israel’s alleged human rights abuses.

“As a policy matter, it is wholly unacceptable for the State Department to fund NGOs to delegitimize and isolate Israel,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon on Monday, adding that “new anti-Semitism” is being “driven by a global network of anti-Israel nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights groups.”

Earlier this year, the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor announced it will provide up to $987,654 “for projects that strengthen accountability and human rights in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.”

“Program activities should focus on enabling independent civil society in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza to: collect, archive, and maintain human rights documentation to support justice and accountability and civil society-led advocacy efforts, which may include documentation of legal or security sector violations and housing, land, and property rights; understand and access the forums and processes available to take meaningful action in pursuing truth, accountability, and memorialization; and/or provide psychosocial support to survivors of atrocities,” the announcement stated.

The Senate Republicans told the Free Beacon that the grant demonstrates the Biden administration’s support of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to cripple Israel through economic warfare.

“The Biden administration spends enormous time and resources looking for excuses to criticize Israel, on everything from counterterrorism to international diplomacy,” Cruz told the outlet. “Now they’re spending $1 million in taxpayer money to manufacture even more excuses, and in the process funding the international campaign to delegitimize and wage economic warfare against Israel. The State Department should rescind this grant.”

The lawmakers’ letter notes that many of the NGOs which are likely to benefit from the grant signed a declaration in 2001 labeling Israel “a racist, apartheid state” that commits “crimes against humanity.”

“The declaration has served as the basis for anti-Semitic campaigns by NGOs calling for economic warfare and rationalizing actual warfare against Israeli Jews,” the letter stated. “For decades these NGOs and campaigns have been significantly funded by European governments and the European Union. The United States has traditionally condemned such campaigns.”

“The similarities in rhetoric, logic, and implication between the State Department notice and the NGO Forum Declaration are striking and disturbing,” the lawmakers added.