‘Canadian charities funding war crimes in Israel,’ say advocacy groups; demand action

Ottawa, April 12, 2024–Grassroots advocacy groups Just Peace Advocates (JPA) and Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) are calling on the federal government to take immediate action in the case of a Canadian charity sending taxpayer-subsidized funds to Israeli organizations involved in the commission of war crimes.

The Mizrachi Organization of Canada, registered as a charity since 1979, identifies its charitable objective as the “relief of poverty”. Its tax filings, however, paint a different picture. As revealed in an open letter sent yesterday to Minister of National Revenue Marie-Claude Bibeau, Mizrachi Canada has for years been providing tax-receipts for Canadians wishing to support the extremist settler movement and the Israeli military. JPA and IJV are also circulating a parliamentary petition on the same subject, sponsored by NDP National Revenue Critic Niki Ashton. The petition has already garnered over 4000 signatures since being published Wednesday evening.

A shortlist of Israeli organizations funded by Mizrachi Canada through tax-deductible donations includes: 

  • Im Tirtzu, a far-right Israeli organization that works to delegitimize Israeli human rights groups and progressive academics, equip the IDF “for victory”, and which has been involved in the blocking of aid trucks to starving civilians in Gaza;
  • The Duvdevan Foundation, an Israeli charity that claims to offer support to current members of the Duvdevan Unit of the Israeli Defence Forces which engages in extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians; and
  • Regavim, a radical pro-settler organization co-founded by far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that works to dispossess Palestinians of their lands and facilitate illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.

“It really is a who’s who of the most extreme—and frankly genocidal—Israeli organizations out there,” said Corey Balsam, National Coordinator of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. “It is absolutely outrageous that the government has closed its eyes to these practices and allowed them to persist for so long.”

Karen Rodman, Executive Director of Just Peace Advocates, has been involved in this case since 2022 and has worked on the submission of five separate complaints to the Canada Revenue Agency concerning Mizrachi Canada’s actions. “It should not require action by civil society groups to flag such egregious transgressions by a Canadian charity, but here we are. We have sent five complaints to the CRA, totalling hundreds of pages. We’ve provided the CRA with extensive details of taxpayer-subsidized funds going to illegal Israeli settlements, military organizations, as well as other concerns related to the Income Tax Act, and yet the government hasn’t budged. There is a genocide going on in Palestine, and thanks to the government’s inaction, we are all inadvertently complicit. As a Canadian taxpayer, I refuse to accept that.”

The open letter to the Minister is also signed by Miles Howe, an Adjunct Professor of Critical Criminology at Brock University and author of a forthcoming journal article on Mizrachi Canada set to appear in the April/May 2024 issue of State Crime Journal. “Mizrachi Canada’s activities are in direct contravention of the Income Tax Act, Canada’s public policy, and international law,” says Howe. “And it’s not only Mizrachi Canada. It’s something of a poorly kept secret that the CRA appears to look the other way when it comes to transgressional charitable organizations moving money out of Canada and into Israel.”

Other Canadian charities have been identified for supporting activities linked with Israeli settlements and/or the Israeli military, and yet retain their status despite complaints being filed against them. These include: the Heseg Foundation, the Ne’eman Foundation, the Jewish Heritage Foundation, and the Canadian Zionist Cultural Association.

“Mizrachi Canada is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Balsam. “That’s why, in addition to calling for the revocation of Mizrachi Canada’s charitable status, we’re demanding that the Minister take comprehensive measures that will put an end to these abuses from within our charitable sector for good.”

For media requests:

Willa Holt, IJV Communications Coordinator,  (514) 418-8546, willa@ijvcanada.org,

Karen Rodman, Executive Director, Just Peace Advocates, karen.rodman@justpeaceadvocates.ca

Miles Howe, Adjunct Professor, Critical Criminology, Brock University, mhowe@brocku.ca