As April 15 looms closer by the day, many Americans are left wondering where their tax dollars go.
Some of that money goes to Israeli settlers.
Hebron is a right-wing community in the embattled West Bank, which is occupied by Israel. Palestinians have also laid claim to the land, and the Hebron settlers have been accused by human rights groups of theft, battery and murder.
As of 2003, the most recent data available, about 45 percent of the settlers’ money comes from the Hebron Fund, a tax-exempt nonprofit based in Brooklyn, New York. Americans can write off their donations to the group.
"The Hebron Fund has supported, either directly or indirectly, a wide array of acts that are definitely not charitable,” John Tye told Mother Jones. Tye is the legal director of Avaaz, a group that promotes activism. The group is currently petitioning the IRS to revoke the Hebron Fund’s nonprofit status.
“They are basically using a small group of Jewish settlers in the West Bank to push Palestinians out of their homes,” Tye said. "These settlers are arming themselves, they are engaged in military and paramilitary acts, some of them have connections to terrorism, and they are committing a wide range of crimes against Palestinians."
The Hebron Fund declined to respond to reporters.
There are some 850 Israeli settlers in Hebron. The center of Hebron is a ghost town, and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have forbidden the community’s 200,000 Palestinian residents from entering the area.
In 2001, Human Rights Watch called Hebron "the site of serious and sustained human rights abuses," including "a consistent failure [by IDF] to protect Palestinians from attacks by Israeli settlers.”
More recently, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem denounced the brutality of the settlers who are subsidized by American tax dollars. In 2011, the group wrote that settlers "have been involved in gunfire, attempts to run people over, poisoning of a water well, breaking into homes, spilling of hot liquid on the face of a Palestinian, and the killing of a young Palestinian girl.”
Tye argues the Hebron Fund is complicit in the ongoing abuse of Palestinians in the region.
"I can't tell you precisely where every dollar has gone," he said. "But when there is a doubt, the legal burden is on the Hebron Fund to produce documents that show how its money is spent.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee filed a similar complaint against the Hebron Fund in 2009, but the IRS never responded.