Israeli government ‘funded’ anti-Muslim hate group in US

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Documents obtained by Jewish-American magazine, Forward, showed that officials had given Christian Zionist group, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, tens of thousands of dollars.

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An anti-Muslim hate group received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the Israeli government, according to documents obtained by a US-based progressive Jewish magazine.

Forward magazine said the documents showed Israel had handed over $40,000 in grants to a Christian Zionist group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN).

The organisation, which is based in the US state of Tennessee, is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racists and other hate groups.

On its website, PJTN lobbies against the teaching of Islam in American schools, claiming that children were being indoctrinated into the religion.

The group is also ardently pro-Israel, campaigning against the boycott movement targeting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, which is known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).

PJTN has lobbied US legislators against BDS, describing the non-violent movement as “vile” and “anti-Semitic”.

The group was an important player in the Tennessee state legislature’s 2015 decision to condemn those calling for boycotts of Israel.

On its website, the group states: “PJTN is standing on the right side in support of Israel and we will not waiver in that support. Israel’s land is an everlasting covenant with God.”

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The group’s founder, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, was at the forefront of a 2010 campaign to stop the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, claiming without basis that it was actually a front for terrorists.

At the time, Cardoza-Moore espoused a conspiracy theory that claimed that those behind the mosque believed they were avenging the crusades.

According to Forward, the group denied it received aid directly from the Israeli government but Israeli officials refused to address the group directly, insisting that their funds, which are given out by a company called Concert, are handed out in a “professional manner”.

The magazine found that Israeli officials had approved the transfer of funds to PJTN in January of this year. It said the likely destination for the money was PJTN’s anti-BDS efforts among South African Christians.

Pro-Israel groups have long been accused of funding anti-Muslim networks in the US and elsewhere, but direct support from the Israeli government is rare.

BDS and Israel

In recent years, countering the BDS movement has become a foreign policy priority for the Israeli government, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing it as an “existential” threat to Israel.

Supporters say that the grassroots movement is one of the few non-violent means of taking a stand against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its treatment of those Palestinians who live in them.

The movement has scored some high profile successes, particularly among musicians who were set to play in Israel. In 2018, the singers Lorde and Lana Del Rey pulled out of planned concerts in Israel after outcry by pro-Palestinian activists.

Amid such notable successes, Israel and pro-Israel groups have set about lobbying governments to clamp down on BDS.

In the US, while anti-BDS measures have broad support among politicians from both sides of the aisle, there are constitutional hurdles to enforcing them. These relate to the guarantee of free speech and the right to political protest contained within the US constitution.

Nevertheless, there are 32 US states with laws preventing the government from doing business with those who advocate BDS or other forms of sanctions for those who call for boycotting Israel.

The US House of Representatives has also passed a motion condemning those who support the BDS movement.

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