The United States government has been allowing citizens to take a tax deduction for donations to Viva Palestina, a group that aids the anti-Israel and anti-America terrorist group Hamas. Now a U.S. Congressman is trying to put a stop to it, as reported by the International Business Times.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) told the paper that he has written to the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the IRS, informing them that Viva Palestina funds terrorism and is soliciting donations in America. The Patriot Act and other counter-terror laws prohibit soliciting funds for a recognized terrorist organization.
His letters were sent several months ago, but nothing has been done. Sherman said the State Department forwarded his complaint to the Department of Justice, which has yet to respond. The IRS said they would look into the matter, he added. The congressman said he plans to keep pushing the matter until something is done.
Viva Palestina is run by former British MP George Galloway, who openly supports Hamas and has made direct donations to the group. In 2009 Galloway gave Hamas leaders cash and vehicles, and taunted his government, saying, "If you want to take me to court, I promise you there is no jury in all of Britain who will convict me."
Sherman said he has faced difficulty due to the fact that Viva Palestina's branch in the U.S. is partnered with the charity group Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizations (IFCO) and receives money through them.
In addition, Viva Palestina USA claims that it does not give to Hamas. However, Sherman disputes that claim, pointing out that the group openly supports Galloway's "aid convoys" to Gaza. An expert on terrorism, Stephen Landman, was quoted by IBT as saying that Viva Palestina USA "openly used its resources to prop up Hamas' government in the Gaza Strip."
Landman recently addressed the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He told committee members that there is "overwhelming" evidence that Viva Palestina supports terrorism, and that the group has raised at least $200,000 in America.
Galloway and Viva Palestina are currently planning a flotilla to sail for Gaza, in an attempt to break Israel's naval blockade of Hamas. A previous attempt to break the blockade ended with nine deaths and several injuries after armed passengers attacked IDF soldiers who attempted to redirect their boats, and soldiers opened fire in response.