Senate Republican foreign policy leaders are demanding the Biden administration pull nearly $1 million in taxpayer funding for groups to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip—an effort that the senators say is fueling a “new anti-Semitism.”
The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announced in March it will pay nonprofit groups up to $987,654 to “strengthen accountability and human rights in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza,” according to a grant notice first posted online in February. Groups angling for the grant money are instructed to investigate alleged crimes inside and outside of Israel to “collect, archive, and maintain human rights documentation to support justice and accountability and civil society-led advocacy efforts, which may include documentation of legal or security sector violations and housing, land, and property rights.”
The grant was seized upon by Israel’s defenders on Capitol Hill as a prime example of the Biden administration’s efforts to undermine the Jewish state and strengthen the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and 11 other Republican lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to cancel the grant program and live up to its repeated pledges to combat the BDS movement.
“As a policy matter, it is wholly unacceptable for the State Department to fund NGOs to delegitimize and isolate Israel,” the lawmakers write, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The State Department, the lawmakers allege, is using taxpayer dollars to promote a “new anti-Semitism” that is “driven by a global network of anti-Israel nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights groups.”
Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill who spoke to the Free Beacon say the grant is part of a larger effort by Biden administration officials to mainstream the BDS movement and undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance, even as terror attacks on the Jewish state spike. The State Department has already come under scrutiny from the GOP and pro-Israel groups for hiring several people who worked in the anti-Israel community and promoted the BDS movement.