Israeli Charities

The Canada Revenue Agency allows hundreds of organizations to provide tax credits for donations to a wealthy, far away, country. A mid-1990s survey found there were more than 300 registered Canadian charities with ties to Israel and in 1991 the Ottawa Citizen estimated Canadian Jews sent more than $100 million a year to Israel and possibly as much as $200 million. How many registered Canadian charities funnel money to France or Sweden?

Canadian organizations can fundraise for Israeli settlements in the West Bank that contravene international law and get the government to pay up to a third of the cost through tax credits for donations. The exact amount is not known but it’s safe to assume that millions of Canadian dollars make their way to Israeli settlements annually.

A registered charity, Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), says it supports “the Jews currently living in Biblical Israel —the communities of Judea and Samaria (and previously Gaza).” Judea and Samaria is the biblical term right wing Israelis use to describe the occupied West Bank. CFOIC explains that it “provide(s) Christians with deeper insight into the significance of Judea and Samaria — the heartland of Israel — and the people who live there. This is done by bringing groups of Christians to visit the communities, and providing information about the communities on an ongoing basis; and provide financial and moral support to the Jewish communities who are developing the land in faithfulness to their God.”

Tens of millions of dollars have been raised for Canada Park, a Jewish National Fund of Canada initiative built on land Israel occupied after the June 1967 War (three Palestinian villages were demolished to make way for the park). The park replaced most traces of Palestinian history with signs devoted to Canadian donors such as the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department, the City of Ottawa and former Ontario premier Bill Davis.

Inside Israel’s internationally recognized borders the JNF discriminates in its land-use policies. Shutting out Palestinian citizens of Israel (Arab Israelis), JNF lands can only be leased by Jews. A 1998 UN Human Rights Council report found that JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination” against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20% of the country’s population. Echoing the UN, a 2012 US State Department report detailing “institutional and societal discrimination” in Israel says JNF “statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.” In 2016 JNF Canada raised $28 million in tax-deductible donations.

A number of registered “charities” aid the Israeli army. While the Foreign Enlistment Act technically prohibits Canadians from recruiting for a foreign army, there are a number of organizations that help individuals enlist in the Israeli military. The Friends of Israeli Scouts’ Garin Tzabar program provides Hebrew lessons and support services, as well as help with transport and accommodation in Israel, for twenty-five to thirty Canadian “lone soldiers” who join the Israeli military each year.

The Israel-based Lone Soldier Center has Canadian charitable status through the Ne’eman Foundation. So does the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which has, according to its website, sponsored “fun activities” for “lone soldiers.”

Money sent to Disabled Veterans of Israel or Beit Halochem (Canada) and Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel support the Israeli military in different ways. Established in 1971, the Association for the Soldiers of Israel – Canada, which gives tax receipts through the Canadian Zionist Cultural Association, provides financial and “moral” support to active duty soldiers