NEW YORK – T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights welcomed President Biden’s Executive Order on Imposing Certain Sanctions on Persons Undermining Peace, Security, and Stability in the West Bank as an important step toward protecting the lives and property of Palestinians in the West Bank, preventing expulsions, calming tensions and preventing further violence, and keeping open the path toward a two-state solution. Since 2015, T’ruah has been calling on the IRS to investigate U.S. entities making tax-exempt grants to Israeli organizations engaged in terrorism and incitement. This Executive Order can be a crucial tool for ensuring that U.S. money is not supporting violence.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah, said:
“President Biden’s Executive Order is a groundbreaking step toward stopping the escalating violence in the West Bank. In 2023, there were more than 1,000 such incidents, including the killing of 10 Palestinians. While the world’s focus has been on Gaza, some Israeli settlers have taken the opportunity to terrorize Palestinian villages in the West Bank in service of carrying out their messianic vision of a ‘Greater Israel.’ Since October 7, settler raids have forced residents of some 15 Palestinian villages in the West Bank to flee their homes. Netanyahu’s extremist government, some of whose members have even participated in attacks, treats these offenders with impunity.
“Violence by settlers, many of whom identify as religious Jews, is a chillul hashem — a desecration of the divine name — by those who believe, contrary to mainstream Jewish law, that settling all of biblical Israel justifies murder, assault, and property theft.
“As President Biden noted, settler violence not only endangers Palestinians, but also threatens the ‘peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East Region’ and ‘undermine[s] the foreign policy objectives of the United States, including the viability of a two-state solution and ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom.’ This Executive Order has the potential to reduce this violence by stripping perpetrators of their financial support. We also commend Bank Leumi and Bank HaPoalim for complying with the sanctions against these individuals.
“Since 2015, T’ruah has been urging the IRS to investigate U.S. 501(c)3 organizations that make grants to Israeli organizations engaged in violence, or whose leaders have been indicted or even convicted of terrorism. We have also called on Jewish communal funds to establish clear guidelines blocking donor-advised funds from supporting violence. While the Executive Order initially applies to four specific individuals, it opens the door for sanctions on additional individuals — including those connected to organizations receiving U.S. tax exempt donations. We ask the administration to use this Executive Order to investigate the organizations on which T’ruah has focused these complaints, including Central Fund of Israel, American Friends of Yeshivat HaRaayon HaYehudi, and Charity of Light. We also call on Jewish communal foundations to ensure that their donor-advised funding is not supporting such organizations.
“This week, Jewish communities are reading Parshat Mishpatim, which includes a compendium of civil laws dictated at Mt. Sinai. In contrast to last week’s reading, this week’s parsha appears to deal with quotidian matters, less flashy than the thunder and lightning of revelation. But this juxtaposition serves as a reminder that the mission of establishing a just covenantal community in the Land of Israel can come only through a legal system that prevents abuses and protects every member of society, whether Jewish or not.
“It is a tragic moment when the U.S. must step in to prevent settler violence. The Israeli government has abdicated its responsibility to hold perpetrators responsible and to comply with both international and Israeli law. We are grateful to President Biden for holding a moral stance that prioritizes the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, and for pushing toward a two-state solution. A long-term political solution is the only means of ensuring the security, dignity, and well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
About T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of more than 2,300 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.