A watchdog group is calling on the Biden administration to turn over all internal records related to a nearly $1 million grant that is being offered for nonprofit groups to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
The State Department has been asked to turn over all documents and internal communications related to the grant, which critics view as an effort to delegitimize Israel and empower groups that promote boycotts of the Jewish state and was first exposed by the Washington Free Beacon earlier this month. The grant from the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor solicits nonprofit groups to apply for grant money up to $987,654 to "strengthen accountability and human rights in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza" and drew outrage from top Republican foreign policy leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Groups applying for the grant money are required to investigate alleged crimes inside Israel and the surrounding territories. They will "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," according to a notice from the State Department announcing the grant.
The State Department is being asked to disclose who approved the grant and the names of any groups applying for it, according to a Freedom of Information Act request issued by the America First Legal Foundation (AFLF), a watchdog group that investigates government malfeasance. The FOIA, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Beacon, directs the State Department to disclose who approved the grant and the names of any groups applying for it.
Cruz told the Free Beacon the grant is evidence that the Biden administration's State Department is staffed with appointees who hold animus toward Israel. The Biden administration's nominee to head the bureau offering the grant, Sarah Margon, for instance, has been stalled in the Senate for months due to her anti-Israel activism and statements. Other State Department hires have lobbied for the Palestinian government and have been tied to the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel.
"This debacle shows, yet again, that the people setting Middle East policy for the Biden administration simply hate Israel," Cruz said. "They genuinely believe that Israel is like apartheid South Africa and that Israeli Jews should be boycotted. When they think of human rights abuses, they don't think Russia or China or Cuba, and they certainly don't think Iran; instead, their smears are reserved and hyper-focused on the world's only Jewish state."
The legal foundation's FOIA request covers "all records of or referencing the funding opportunity," including all "records sufficient to identify the person(s) who requested, authorized, reviewed, directed, or wrote" the grant. This is meant to publicly identify the State Department officials responsible for spearheading the effort and tailoring it to focus on alleged Israeli human rights abuses.
AFLF also wants information on any group that has already applied for the grant and records that expose the Biden administration officials in charge of selecting who will cash in on the nearly $1 million grant, according to the FOIA.
A second FOIA request filed by AFLF instructs the State Department to turn over all communications for senior officials working on the Israeli-Palestinian foreign policy portfolio. This FOIA is meant to unearth information related to the Biden administration's decision to omit information about Palestinian terrorism and incitement against Israel from a legally mandated oversight report to Congress, as the Free Beacon first reported in August of last year.
"Public and non-public information indicates the Biden administration is taking extensive steps to provide material support for the Palestinian Authority and for Palestinian terrorism, working closely with non-governmental organizations and others building infrastructure, propaganda, and kinetic capabilities for use against Jews and Israelis," the FOIA states.
Reed Rubinstein, AFLF's senior counsel, told the Free Beacon that political officials at the State Department "began encouraging Palestinian violence as a tool to punish Israel for opposing the corrupt Iran nuclear deal. This administration has lied to Congress and is covering up Palestinian incitement, while at the same time funding efforts to divide Jerusalem and to build Palestinian military and security capabilities that our government knows will be used for terrorism against Jews."