Hearing Date in Z STREET v IRS
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 June 2013 06:50
06/09/13 YET ANOTHER DELAY... We received notice that for some reason - none given - the date of the hearing, the first hearing in the case we filed against the IRS nearly three years ago, has now been changed to two weeks later, July 19. July 19 is a FRIDAY - yes, that's the day one has press conferences, releases news, or has events one doesn't really want to be in the media (Saturday being the day of the week on which the fewest people access the news), and also problematic for observant Jews....just sayin'.
MINUTE ORDER. The Motion Hearing previously set for 7/2/2013 at 2:30 PM is hereby VACATED and RESCHEDULED for 7/19/2013 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 17 before Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. The deadlines for supplemental briefing set by the Court's 5/13/2013 Minute Order remain in place. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 06/07/2013. (lckbj2)
FINALLY! Two and a half years after filing a Complaint in federal court seeking relief from the Internal Revenue Service for viewpoint discrimination against our strongly pro-Israel organization, Z STREET has a hearing date in the District of Columbia federal district court on JULY 2, AT 2:30 P.M. Z STREET v. IRS (Douglas H. Shulman, IRS Commissioner)
MINUTE ORDER: Motion Hearing set for 7/2/2013 at 2:30 PM in Courtroom 17 before Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on  MOTION to Dismiss Amended Complaint filed by Defendant DOUGLAS H. SHULMAN,  Response to Order of the Court filed by Defendant DOUGLAS H. SHULMAN and  Notice of Plaintiff's Submission of Relevant District of Columbia Authority filed by Plaintiff Z STREET. The parties are directed to notify the Court, prior to the hearing, of any pertinent supplemental authority relevant to  MOTION to Dismiss Amended Complaint filed by Defendant DOUGLAS H. SHULMAN. Signed by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on 04/30/2013. (lckbj2)
As it happens, the IRS was forced to admit that it engaged in a practice exactly like the one Z STREET complained of, (which we knew about because the IRS agent assigned to our case told us so, before she was told she couldn't say that out loud) with respect to conservative political organizations. The IRS admitted using the terms "tea party" and "patriot" as a search in the applications and/or files of organizations in order to subject organizations with those words to a stricter review. Classic viewpoint discrimination. And Z STREET was told the IRS did the same with respect to "organizations connected to Israel."
Z STREET was also told by the IRS agent to whom our file was originally assigned that organizations like ours may be assigned to "a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization's activities contradict the Administration's public policies."
Below is the introduction to our Amended Complaint, which explains what happened, why it is a constitutional violation, and what Z STREET is seeking.
A. The plaintiff in this case, Z STREET, is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about Zionism; about the facts relating to the Middle East and to the existence of Israel as a Jewish State; and about Israel’s right to refuse to negotiate with, make concessions to, or appease terrorists. Z STREET is not a grant-making organization and does not fund any organizations either within or outside the United States
B. Z STREET brings this case because, through its corporate counsel, Z STREET was informed explicitly by an IRS Agent on July 19, 2010, that approval of Z STREET’s application for tax-exempt status has been at least delayed, and may be denied, because of a special IRS policy in place regarding organizations in any way connected with Israel, and further that the applications of many such Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization's activities contradict the Administration's public policies.” These statements by an IRS official that the IRS maintains special policies (hereinafter the “Israel Special Policy”) governing applications for tax-exempt status by organizations which deal with Israel, and which requires particularly intense scrutiny of such applications and an enhanced risk of denial if made by organizations which espouse or support positions inconsistent with the Obama administration’s Israel policies, constitute an explicit admission of the crudest form of viewpoint discrimination, and one which is both totally un-American and flatly unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
C. Z STREET brings this case seeking a Declaratory Judgment that the Israel Special Policy violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and for injunctive relief barring application of the Israel Special Policy to Z STREET’s application for tax-exempt status or to similar applications by any other organization; and to compel full public disclosure regarding the origin, development, approval, substance and application of the Israel Special Policy.
D. The United States Internal Revenue Service has defended this case by claiming that special review of Z STREET’s application for exemption from tax is necessary because Z STREET deals with Israel, and Israel is a country “with” a heightened risk of terrorism. Plaintiff passes without comment the irony that the government claims to be investigating intensively an organization whose charter opposes terrorism, and which is devoted exclusively to speaking in support of a country victimized by terrorism, on the theory that such intensive review is necessary to prevent terrorism, because such an organization might be funding terrorism. Plaintiff alleges that, as more fully detailed below,
- the government has never sought from Z STREET any information regarding any of the factual issues that the government claims it needs to investigate to prevent the funding of terrorism, and that
- the government has never provided to Z STREET any of the information that the government claims it is obliged to disseminate to applicants for exemption from tax, to guard against the use of tax-exempt funds to promote terror.
E. Indeed, although the government claims that its policies are necessary to enable the government to obtain or to provide information relating to terrorism, the government has not actually stated that it did seek any such information from Z STREET, or provide any such information to Z STREET. And in fact the government has not done either.
F. Although the government has neither sought from Z STREET, nor provided to Z STREET, any information relating to the funding of terrorism, the government has
sought from Z STREET detailed information regarding the identity and background of Z STREET’s leadership.
G. Because the government’s claimed justifications are totally unrelated to any information sought by, or provided by, the government as part of its intensive investigation of Z STREET, it is apparent that the justifications espoused by the government in this case are not the actual drivers of the government’s decision to investigate Z STREET intensively.
H. This is further substantiated by the fact that, as more fully detailed below, the IRS has included in its investigation of another application for exemption from tax,
submitted by a purely religious Jewish organization that is not involved with Israel or politics at all, the demand that that organization state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel” and by the requirement that the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
I. Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, a government decision about how intensively to investigate an applicant for exemption from tax cannot be made on the basis of the applicant’s political or religious views, or on the basis of whether those views are inconsistent with the positions of the administration
Finally, An Israeli Shifting the Political Landscape to the Right
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 18:05
I just returned from another long (but too-short) trip to Israel, and while there became entranced by the explosive rise of a new Israeli political superstar, Naftali Bennett. This guy has a bio trifecta: by far one of the most elite units in the IDF, brilliant entrepreneur who sold his business for big, big bucks, and he is a religious Jew who believes that the Two State Delusion is long dead and should be buried. He has new ideas - I don't agree with all of them - and he isn't afraid of saying what he thinks, despite the torrent of bile being sent in his direction, from the right and the left. Netanyahu is nervous, the left is whining - hey, the guys is worth knowing about. Here is much of Ari Shavit's profile of him. I don't disagree with Shavit's headline, but I have taken the liberty of changing the last two words of the article. What do you think?
The success of Naftali Bennett is the failure of the Israeli center-left
The big surprise of the 2013 election campaign is Habayit Hayehudi chairman Bennet, the rising star of religious Zionism, whose party's ratings are soaring among right-wingers.
I am a despairing Israeli voter, I tell Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett. I am not lunatic left, but I believe in the kind of enlightened Zionism that is now going down the drain. I believe in the Jewish and democratic state that is evaporating. And I believe in the partition of the land, which you are trying to put a stop to. Plus, when I see the limpness and the wretchedness in my own camp and the energy and momentum in yours, I am horrified.
What can you, Naftali Bennett, tell me and people like me who see the end of our Israel in the rise of your Israel? Can you persuade me and my readers that you do not herald the end of the state we have so loved?
Since becoming a political star, Bennett, 40, has gained a bit of weight. After a long day of tiring campaign appearances, he sits across from me at a cafe somewhere in the center of the country. He orders a spicy Asian dish and types a fast facebook status on his laptop - in support of Avigdor Lieberman and against the State Prosecutor's Office. Then he looks at me with the eyes of a dedicated troop leader in the Bnei Akiva national religious youth movement, and tries to assuage my concerns.
"Zionism arose thanks to secularism," he says. "The dogmatic religious establishment in the Diaspora was not capable of initiating Zionism without [Theodor] Herzl's secular involvement. But secular Zionism was an existential Zionism that saw the state of the Jews as a refuge state.
"A state that is 64 years old cannot continue to exist on the ethos of a refuge state, on security alone. After all, if this were the reason for our existence, there are many places that are safer for Jews - like Melbourne, Australia, or New Jersey. They don't send children to the army there, and missiles aren't flying there. Therefore, the time has come to move from the existential Zionism that you come from to a Jewish Zionism. It is necessary to base our national life on a Jewish basis, and it is necessary to give the state a Jewish coloration.
"I don't support religious coercion, but I do believe that Judaism is our 'why': Judaism is the reason for our existence and the justification for our existence, and the meaning of our existence. I know that for your 'tribe,' this is difficult. It is difficult because your tribe established the state in a secular-socialist spirit. And as you see the society changing and the state changing, you feel like you are done for. Your feeling is that the home that had been your home is no longer yours.
"I am not indifferent to your distress. I am also personally connected to your ethos. When I was a child, I had Yoni's letters [the reference is to war hero Yoni Netanyahu] and [military commando] Meir Har-Zion's book next to my bed. So for me it's not tactics and it's not cosmetics. My whole life I've had one foot here and one foot there.
"You are right," he continues. "What is happening is a revolution. Behind the success of Habayit Hayehudi there are deep forces that are changing the face of the country. But for me in particular, it's important to be a bridge to you. One of the biggest challenges from my perspective is to connect you to religious Zionism, too."
But you are about to annex 60 percent of the area of the West Bank, I persist. Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Benjamin Netanyahu all refrained from taking this extreme step. Implementing the Bennett plan will bury the two states once and for all. Implementing the Bennett plan will perpetuate the occupation and make Israel a leper apartheid state. Though you are a high-tech person from Ra'anana who has seen the world, I continue, you are entirely ignoring the world. You will bring disaster down upon us by causing the international community to condemn us, and by causing a third of all Israelis to be entirely alienated from that new Israel you will shape.
The chairman of Habayit Hayehudi tells me the international reaction concerns him, and therefore he will not annex most of the territories right at the start of what will be a long process. He believes that, ultimately, the world is busy with the economic collapse of Greece, the United States' fiscal cliff and the slaughter in Syria, and thus it is possible to bring the world to come to terms now with facts on the ground and firm Israeli decisions. Back in 1981, when then-Prime Minister Begin was about to apply Israeli law to the Golan Heights, Shimon Peres and Amos Oz also warned him that it would lead to Israel becoming a leper state. He passed the Golan Heights Law, we received a few criticisms - and we carried on.
Bennett says the internal Israeli rift disturbs him far more. Consequently, he will conduct a dialogue with the center and the left just as he is conducting a dialogue with me right now. But after making the "right" noises, Bennett straightens up and declares we tried Oslo and we tried the disengagement - and we've seen what has happened. If a Palestinian state were to arise in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank ), it would threaten Israel both with missiles and refugees. When he is abroad and when he reads The Economist magazine, it seems to him, too, that the establishment of Palestine is inevitable. But when he drives to Jerusalem via Ariel, he understands that it is not going to happen.
It is not going to happen, he emphasizes. The 400,000 settlers in Judea and Samaria do not make this possible. And when the number of settlers reaches a million, there won't be a person in the country who does not understand that this is the reality. There will be a million - no doubt about that. After the annexation, the economic dynamic will have its effect and people will flock to those areas, which will become an integral part of the State of Israel.
But this does not mean apartheid. On the contrary, he says: The Palestinians will be able to travel in all of Judea and Samaria without barriers and without seeing any soldiers on the shared high-speed roads that will serve both them and the Jewish settlers. They will have freedom of movement and they will have jobs and they will have economic prosperity. They will elect themselves, they will pay taxes to themselves, they will run their own lives in every respect. And in the end, Jordan will be Palestine. There is no chance that, between the river and the sea, a Palestinian state will arise. The two-state solution is dead. There is no need to bury the two-state solution because it is already buried.
And what if a different decision is taken, I inquire. If the moment of evacuation comes, will you refuse to obey the order or not refuse to obey the order? Will you behave the way you told (Channel 2’s) Nissim Mishal [and refuse], or will you behave the way you promised two days later?
Bennett talks with surprising frankness about the difficult days he endured after last week’s refusal-to-obey-army- orders tempest. He admits that, when he said what he said, he spoke from the heart and expressed his true feelings. But last Saturday he thought it over quietly and concluded that since he is now a leader, responsibility of a different sort is incumbent upon him. He cannot bring about the shattering of the Israel Defense Forces or destroy proper governance and statesmanship.
What will he do when a leftist soldier refuses to obey an order and attributes his refusal to Naftali Bennett’s statement?
He still believes that evacuating a Jewish village or an Arab village is terrible, and the act of expulsion of Jews or Arabs from their homes is an act that should not be carried out. However, if the government takes the decision, he will implement it. And he won’t follow the instructions of the rabbis who preach refusal. In the difficult clash between contradictory values, the unity of the state and the army prevails.
I first met Bennett six years ago. He had returned, appalled, from the Second Lebanon War and wondered what he should do as a citizen in the wake of the war. The Bennett of 2006 was levelheaded, determined and rather impressive. And he wasn’t alone, either. At that time, quite a number of reserve soldiers, reserve officers, academics and businesspeople − from the right and the left − felt they had to rehabilitate the country from the ruination they had just experienced.
However, while the protesters from the left lost their way or went home, Bennett first went to Benjamin Netanyahu as his chief of staff. He then went to the West Bank and founded Yisrael Sheli in 2010. Recently he took over Habayit Hayehudi and became the surprise of this election. He has managed to do for religious Zionism what no shining star has ever done for secular liberal Zionism.
So, when Bennett closes his laptop, shakes my hand and vanishes into the night, it is clear to me that his narrative is not only the story of his upsetting success. The narrative of the 2013 election is also the story of our failure Israel's future.
Battlefront Maghreb: The War within Arab Muslim Civilization
Last Updated on Sunday, 06 January 2013 08:18
By David Firester
January 3, 2013
In the Arab world, promoting violence against the West has long been a tool of both secular dictators and Islamists. As the most recent 9/11 conflagration extinguishes itself in Libya and Egypt it leaves in its wake a smoldering question: why do Middle Eastern protests turn to riots, which in turn direct violence and lethality toward the West? One possible answer, in part, is that there is a large segment of society who are likened to a powder keg filled with a flammable litany of complaints about Western domination. The convenient argument is that this combustible concoction is set ablaze by unpardonable Western depictions of Islam. The ignition, however, is not what you might think it is. It’s not spontaneous rage, but a carefully planned and politically driven activity from within. The former viewpoint is that of the Obama administration, whereas the latter is the focus of this column.
So, what were some of the antecedents leading up to the events of 11 September 2012? A film trailer for “Innocence of Muslims”, which mocked Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, had debuted on youtube.com in July 2012. Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, had ensured that attention was granted to it on 9 September. It was later broadcast on Egyptian television’s Salafist station, Al-Nas, with Arabic subtitles. This “information operation” appears to have been part of a mutual effort between the Egyptian Salafist Nour party and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party in Egypt to outmaneuver each other. Salafist soccer club allies, dubbed the “Ultras”, also vociferously promulgated the video on the internet (on 10 September) and called for a march on the American embassy to take place on 11 September. Protests, riots, murder and a planned assassination in Libya followed.
The grossly oversimplified explanation offered by the Obama administration is that such anti-Western violence is the result of Western insensitivity. The West is often promoted as a target for the sake of domestic power consolidation. Arguably, there are external triggers, but the people who pull them are of domestic origin. Therefore, it is no surprise that Arab rage is focused externally rather than internally. Recently, however, the so-called Arab Spring has created a space for Arab introspection and consequently a “battle for the soul of Islam” (the title of a recent book by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, A Battle for the Soul of Islam: an American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save his Faith, [New York: Threshold Editions/Simon & Shuster, 2012]). The Islamists are currently exploiting this, while consolidating their domestic power in promoting the external bogeyman.
Political Islam is engaged in a bout between co-religionists: the right wing (Muslim Brotherhood) vs. the ultra-right wing (Salafists). As Jytte Klausen points out, in the past the secular dictatorships could evoke the rage of the far right (as long as it focused on an external threat to Islam) in order to come out victorious. This enabled power consolidation in two ways: (1) By producing the conditions for enacting repression, (2) thereby casting Islamists in the light of a dangerous threat to peace. Now it appears that the so-called “moderate” Islamists (The Muslim Brotherhood) are committed to a similar tactic with their extreme Islamist opponents (Salafists).
According to Bernard Lewis (The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, [New York: The Modern Library, 2003]; p. 31), it has long been the tradition that Arab Muslims view the world as being divided between the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). The two are now colliding in the Maghreb. In other words, as Arab Muslims struggle to rid themselves of secular dictatorships, they must have a war within their civilization.
The danger of appearing to appease Islamists, is that their internal dispute will not undergo the sort of transformation necessary to separate Mosque and state. The appropriate American response to the latest Middle East violence should be to signal to liberal Arabs that freedom of speech cuts both ways. One cannot disentangle this central concept from the principles of democracy. What the Obama administration should not be doing is apologizing for an Egyptian Coptic Christian (the producer of the anti-Islamic film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), who resides in the United States and used a constitutionally derived freedom of speech to promote his disdain for Islam. So far, the Obama administration has been sending the opposite message.
Through apologies, a reluctance to call Islamic terrorism by its name, and cozying up to Islamists, President Obama, Ambassador Rice, and Secretary Clinton have repeatedly showed a weakness that this country cannot afford. Now, Secretary Clinton will claim amnesia and Ambassador Rice will use the cover of simply following orders. President Obama will likely maintain the plausible deniability, which all presidents ensure they enjoy, in light of evidence pointing toward plausible guilt.
David Firester is a former Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Army and a former police officer. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds an MA in International Affairs. His areas of focus are the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Intelligence Community.
It's like the 3 Stooges battling it out for Mensa Membership
Last Updated on Sunday, 13 February 2011 18:53
As the "democracy" revolutions continue to roil across the Middle East, the Arab Palestinian factions are each now trying to present themselves
as the one closest to the will of the people and most able to lead their people forward.