Coronavirus

Anti-Israel Soros Groups Cash In on Coronavirus Relief Funds

J Street and NIAC take taxpayer cash to fuel anti-Israel, pro-Iran agenda

George Soros
George Soros / Getty Images

Two anti-Israel groups bankrolled by liberal billionaire George Soros accepted as much as $1.3 million from the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief fund, public records show.

The far-left Middle East advocacy group J Street and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a pro-Tehran group central to Iran’s propaganda efforts in America, both accepted loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.

J Street, which has consistently criticized the Trump administration for its pro-Israel agenda, received between $350,000 to $1 million for its Education Fund, a nonprofit arm that organizes educational initiatives, according to public reporting records. NIAC, a chief proponent of the Iran nuclear deal, accepted between $150,000 to $350,000 from the PPP program. Both organizations accepted the money in April.

J Street and NIAC are both beneficiaries of Soros’s massive funding network, which includes support for Democratic organizations and advocacy groups that seek to delegitimize Israel and boost the Iranian regime. NIAC, for instance, was a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s pro-Iran "echo chamber." J Street also lobbied in favor of the international accord and continues to sponsor efforts aimed at undermining the pro-Israel community in America.

J Street and NIAC have also been critical of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, arguing that economic sanctions on Tehran have exacerbated the virus’s spread across the Islamic Republic and hindered the country’s response—a talking point echoed by the Iranian ruling regime. The Trump administration provided sanctions exceptions for Iran’s medical needs and never targeted its import of humanitarian goods.

The PPP loans constitute a sizable percentage of both groups’ funding. J Street reported more than $7 million in revenue in 2017, while NIAC reported just under $2 million. J Street has reported at least $50,000 in funding from George and Alex Soros every year since 2014, according to its financial statements. NIAC has not disclosed how much Soros gives the organization, disclosing only that he is a major donor.

J Street has been less than forthcoming about its association with Soros and his Open Society Foundations. Disclosures of Soros’s ties to the group first emerged in 2010, when J Street was caught hiding its support from Soros. He continues to give the organization sizable donations.

J Street reported that the PPP funds preserved 65 jobs at the organization, while NIAC—a far smaller operation—said that 12 jobs were saved by the loan.

NIAC has long faced accusations of serving as Iran’s lobbying shop in Washington, D.C., in violation of public disclosure laws. The group was founded by Trita Parsi, who continues to serve as one of Tehran’s top boosters in the media. NIAC was ordered by a U.S. court in 2013 to pay nearly $200,000 in legal fees after it lost a defamation suit against one of its critics. In that case, NIAC was accused of hiding alleged lobbying work on behalf of the Iranian regime, which would have violated its nonprofit tax status.

In its ruling on the case, the court found that Parsi's work with NIAC was "not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the [Iranian] regime."

In addition to Soros’s Open Society Foundations, NIAC is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a chief ally of anti-Israel groups, and the Ploughshares Fund, which played a key role in promoting falsehoods about the Obama administration’s deal with Iran.

Other notable anti-Israel groups also benefited from the PPP.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent Israel critic and unindicted co-conspirator in a massive 2007 plot to send money to the terror group Hamas, took anywhere from $350,000 to $1 million dollars.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which promotes boycotts of Israel and distributes anti-Zionist materials, received at least $350,000 from the program.

Neither CAIR nor JVP has received financing for Soros's funding network.

Update 2:28 p.m.: This post was updated with further information.