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-Is the IRS Targeting ‘Pro-Israel’ Jewish Groups?

by Dr. D ~ November 24th, 2010

Logo of Internal Revenue Service, USA

                                                 (IRS Seal-Wikipedia)

A Pennsylvania Jewish group, Z Street, has claimed today in federal Court that the Internal Revenue Service is targeting pro-Israel Jewish groups when it comes to applications for tax exempt status.

The organization introduced a letter from an IRS agent to another which outlined a couple of questions demanded of a Jewish organization seeking tax exempt status:

"Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?" also "Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel."

According to Z Street an agent had informed the group that the IRS is now:

"carefully scrutinizing organizations that are in any way connected with Israel" and that "a special unit" is determining whether its activities "contradict the Administration’s public policies.’"

There is already a precedent established in denying tax exempt status to organizations like the KKK and Bob Jones University over racial discrimination. Also Muslim charity groups that contributed heavily to terrorist organizations have also lost their exempt status.

So the IRS can deny tax exempt status to groups that work against "established public policy." However should that include the policies and biases of a particular presidential administration?

Z Street in their lawsuit is suggesting that the IRS is now applying and responding to particular views of the current administration when it comes to Israel and pro-Israel groups in America- that the agency is:

"improperly considering the political viewpoint of applicants" and engaging in "clear viewpoint discrimination."

Response: It is clear that the Obama administration is far more ‘pro-Palestinian’ than any other past presidential administration. Whether you like it or not it is the current administration’s responsibility and right to define and carry out foreign affairs for the USA as they see fit (at least for the next 2 years).

However, it is a real problem and our freedoms are actually under assault if the Obama administration is trying to influence the IRS in their treatment of American groups who may be politically opposed to some of the current administration actions and policies.

The evidence does not actually show a connection between the IRS actions here and the Obama administration. It may be just a few out of control IRS agents and administrators. Nevertheless, the IRS should never be allowed to be used by any administration against anyone or any group for political reasons.              *Top of the Blog

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4 Responses to -Is the IRS Targeting ‘Pro-Israel’ Jewish Groups?

  1. Phil

    We do have to be careful when we say not for “political reasons” – that’s a bit ambiguous. Politics is the interface between reality and the people, so if the reality is that unburn babies are human beings, politics is the way a government attempts to act on this reality with a population that may or may not accept it. It is the attempt to lead a population in a direction that is an appropriate response to reality, so if the reality is that God created all people equal, then an appropriate political response is that the KKK should not be given a financial incentive (tax exemption) to treat some as less than equal.

    Unfortunately, what we have come to call politics is actually a caricature. Various issues have been divided into left and right wing categories, so that the issue is now frequently about loyalty to a particular group rather than an appropriate response to reality. If you accept that embryos are humans or that aids is a much bigger issue in the gay community than elsewhere you are told you are right wing. If a few years ago you accepted that there was no evidence that Iraq had WMD, or if you accept that the science so far gives us 9:1 odds that humans are causing global warming through greed and thereby causing much suffering to the world’s poor, you are told you’re left wing. In short, social pressure asks us to suspend rational thinking and attempt to fit in with a group.

    In that context, I’d suggest that its not inappropriate for the IRS to see whether they are giving financial incentives for people to carry out injustice. If the reality is that these groups are supporting Jewish families, culture, welfare, religion etc in a way that is just toward their neighbours, then by all means reward them with tax exemption. If they are however acting to support actions by Israel which we would not accept from Palestine, then the government needs to maintain justice in its own actions and not reward them financially. That would be unpopular in some circles, not because it’s an inappropriate response to reality but because of the pressure to conform to a group.

    The big reality is that we Christians have no business being left or right wing; our kingdom is not of this world and our Jerusalem is not the physical one (Galatians 4:25-26). That’s where our loyalties are needed and we should support any leader that carries out God’s priorities of justice, mercy and faithfulness.

  2. Dr. D

    Thanks Phil,
    You make some good points here. I am being ‘a bit ambiguous’ on purpose. The IRS is supposed to be run separate from any particular presidential administration. There have been abuses in the past where presidents have targeted political opponents using the IRS. If any administration demands that the IRS challenges ‘non-profit’ organizations who have or support views that are different than their own then it could be a problem. Any such possible abuses need to see the light of day and be exposed and discouraged.

    What disturbed me in this case was the ‘theological questions‘ being posed to the groups: “Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?” also “Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”

    I find that rather chilling!

    What if Christian churches and non- profit groups were challenged with the question: ‘Do you support the future establishment of a new world dominion called the ‘New Jerusalem’ supposedly to be established by one Jesus Christ the Messiah?’ and ‘Would you support the one called Christ in dissolving all current governments including the USA?’ also ‘Do you now or have you ever in the past considered yourself to be a member or citizen of said coming Kingdom?’

    It seems rather far-fetched now but maybe not so in the future?

  3. Phil

    I agree, it’s scary stuff. I do think that it may be something we have to live with though due to the great variety of religious beliefs amongst us. If for instance a muslim group was to answer that they do not believe Israel has a right to exist, or a far right KKK or neo-Nazi style “Christian” group was to say that they believe all Jews are hated by God, then we would probably be glad that the IRS was asking the questions. I suspect the question is really something along the lines of “does your theology involve guns, bombs or missiles?”

    As far as I can see, the teachings of Jesus are still pretty safe here – if your response was that you believe Israel has as much right to exist as any other nation because God is just and cares for all equally, and if your theology was that the hope of Israel was to turn to their Messiah (Romans 11:25-27) who very pointedly urged them to love their enemies and care for their needs, I would be surprised if the IRS had a problem with that. As Paul said “Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

    As for the possibilities of those final questions of yours being raised one day, I suppose it’s on our shoulders now to demonstrate that loyalty to the Kingdom of Heaven is not about crusades, guns, bombs and missiles, but about justice, mercy and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8, Matt 23:23) – good news for the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind and release for the oppressed as Jesus told us in his state of the union address (Luke 4:18). If it does get to the stage where a government is asking those questions anyway, tax exemption will probably be the last thing on our minds and certainly won’t hold up any genuine work of the Kingdom (Matt 6:31-33). The sooner that Kingdom comes the better hey?

  4. Dr. D

    Amen Phil,
    Thanks for the well thought out response and comments.

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