The U.S. government has been funneling taxpayer money to the left-wing group bankrolling protests against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Israeli funding documents reviewed by the ‘Washington Free Beacon’ newspaper.
The documents indicate that, “since 2020, Foggy Bottom (a historical neighborhood of Washington, D.C.) has sent over $38,000 to the Movement for Quality Government (MQG), the Israeli nonprofit stoking nationwide anti-Netanyahu protests that have seen protesters clash with police and target Netanyahu’s family members.”
MQG is seeking to takedown Netanyahu’s government over his support for major reforms to the Israeli supreme court that would significantly limit its power. The organization petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court earlier this year to oust Netanyahu, claiming he is unfit for office due to ongoing investigations into allegations of political corruption and bribery.
The State Department, which confirmed the funding, calls the group ‘a nonpartisan organization,’ but its work opposing Netanyahu raises questions about how the group was able to obtain U.S. funding. Given the Biden administration’s chilly diplomatic relationship with Netanyahuthe U.S. funding to MQG has come under new scrutiny.
“The State Department should never fund foreign partisan organizations in allied democracies,” Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Free Beacon. “Congress should absolutely review the State Department’s potential funding of partisan politics in Israel.”
The State Department downplayed its funding for MQG and would not answer questions about whether U.S. funds could have been diverted to the organization’s anti-Netanyahu activities.
“The State Department has provided small grants to the Movement for Quality Government, including a grant signed in 2020 during the previous administration and continued under the Biden administration that focused on teaching civic education and supporting good governance,” a State Department official told the Free Beacon.
The State Department described MQG as “a respected, independent, non-partisan, grassroots non-governmental organization committed to promoting values of democracy, transparency, good governance, and civic participation.”
The State Department typically allows its grantees to self-report how the money is used, according to Gerald Steinberg, founder of NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that monitors these issues. “Few if any funders even attempt to monitor the actual use of grants,” he said.
Steinberg, who has closely followed MQG’s activities, noted that “if a foreign government had funded a similar NGO operating in the United States, the Biden administration would have taken immediate action.”
Israeli political observers also have raised concerns about whether the U.S. funding is helping to fuel opposition to Netanyahu’s government.
“The Movement for Quality Government has worked for decades to subvert Israeli democracy,” Caroline Glick, an Israel-based political pundit who first raised questions about State Department funding for the group in a column last month, told the Free Beacon. “It is a slap in the face of the Israeli public and an expression of contempt for Israeli democracy that the State Department is funding this radical group.”