J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami has declared war on Regavim, due to the latter’s campaign against illegal Arab construction in Israel.
In a letter to supporters, J Street said it was applying pressure on the U.S. government to intervene to prevent the evacuation of illegal Arab housing in Sussiya, which is being urged by Regavim, an NGO which monitors illegal Arab building.
“A sophisticated private network has sprung up in the United States, funded by tax-deductible donations, that has channeled millions of dollars to strengthen the settlements and weaken the Palestinians’ presence in the West Bank,” J Street said in a statement posted on its website. It accused Regavim of seeking to gradually gain control of lands that the Palestinians want for their future state, in direct contravention of U.S. policy.
Ben-Ami said that the J Street campaign has borne fruit, as State Department pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu led to postponement of demolitions in Sussiya until November 15.
“Clearly, the United States…must do more to maintain the viability of a two-state solution. At the very least, it should not reward with a tax deduction those funding organizations whose activities could well be illegal, and whose goals and activities are in direct opposition to long-standing, bipartisan U.S. policy,” Ben-Ami said.
According to IRS requirements, tax-deductible status can only be given to those organizations whose activities are not illegal or contrary to “established public policy,” J Street said.
In response, Regavim international director Josh Hasten said that his organization’s lawyers had opened an investigation into J Street to “ascertain who is truly behind J-Street’s subversive anti-Israel positions.”
”This is an organization that supported the Iran nuclear deal that threatens Israel’s existence, and which has supported United Nations Security Council action against Israel,” Hasten said.
It helped with the publication of the U.N.’s Goldstone Report on 2009’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and supported the terrorists on the 2010 Gaza flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, he added.
Now that they are trying to harm Regavim financially, “we call upon our supporters in Israel and around the world to…increase their support for Regavim and ensuring that we continue to flourish,” Hasten said.