This Progressive Dark Money Behemoth Could Face Criminal Charges Over Anti-Israel Protest

November 13, 2023

The anti-Israel activists who attempted to blockade a U.S. military ship bound for Israel belong to a subsidiary of a top left-wing dark money group. Experts say their potentially illegal actions could put that group at risk of losing its nonprofit status.

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center organized a "direct action" protest in the Port of Tacoma in Washington, in an effort to stop the MV Cape Orlando from leaving port to aid the Jewish state. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center is a "fiscal sponsorship" of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) and one of the largest left-wing dark money organizations in the country. That means there is no legal distinction between the Tides Center and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center—employees of the latter are employees of the former.

That could pose a problem for the Tides Center, which creates pop-up groups to advance progressive causes. Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the Arab Resource and Organizing Center's protest. If the government charges the group with a crime, they could have grounds to strip the Tides Center of its nonprofit status.

"If criminal conduct is ultimately proven, that would not be consistent with an entity's charitable mission under the tax code—and consequently would challenge its tax status," said Elliot Berke, an attorney and nonprofit expert.

A revocation of the Tides Center’s nonprofit status would leave the organization essentially unable to raise money, a damaging outcome for the progressive movement. Such an outcome is unlikely from just one incident, experts say, but pushing legal limits could eventually leave investigators little choice. The attorney general of the District of Columbia last month issued subpoenas to several dark money behemoths, including the New Venture Fund, over accusations that they skirted federal regulations for how a nonprofit should operate.

With more than half a billion dollars under management, the Tides Center can quickly deploy its vast army of fiscal sponsorships at a whim. The Washington Free Beacon reported that a primary organizer of recent anti-Israel demonstrations, the Adalah Justice Project, is another Tides fiscal sponsorship.

But the Arab Resource and Organizing Center’s role in organizing the "block the boat" protest may have put both groups on the wrong side of the law.

"There are lawful ways and locations to exercise free speech at a public port—like getting a protest permit and holding your event," said nonprofit attorney Jason Torchinsky. "But [nonprofit] dollars cannot be used to support criminal activities, which here may include a restricted area in violation of U.S. Coast Guard rules and interference with military operations."

Lawmakers have in the past called for investigations into nonprofits implicated in criminal activity. Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) in 2021 demanded the IRS investigate whether any 501(c)(3)s helped organize the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

"Established law has long held that an organization is not eligible for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) if a purpose of the organization is contrary to public policy or is illegal," Wyden noted at the time. 

Tides describes the Arab Resource and Organizing Center as a "grassroots organization working to empower and organize our community towards justice and self-determination for all." In reality, the organization seeks to "abolish Zionism" and is a leading voice in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement, which wages economic war on the Jewish state.

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center conducted its protest in Tacoma with a variety of other left-wing activist groups, including the George Soros-funded Jewish Voices for Peace and Samidoun Seattle, an Israeli-designated terrorist group. Israeli officials allege that Samidoun Seattle is a subsidiary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist group responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Israel and abroad.

It is unclear which Tides Center donor earmarked donations for the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. But Soros’s Open Society Foundations in 2019 contributed $225,000 to pro-Palestinian initiatives at the Tides Center.

Representatives for Soros, Tides, and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center did not respond to requests for comment.