State Department funded anti-Netanyahu group in Israel

An investigation conducted by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations determined Tuesday the State Department discharged hundreds of thousands of U.S. tax dollars to an Israeli group which opposed the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the Senate committee’s conclusions, a State Department grant of $350,000 was delivered to Israeli non-profit group OneVoice which, under Department guidelines, was required to use the funds to promote a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine.

However, according to the findings of the committee, OneVoice earmarked the funds for the recruitment and training of political operatives to defeat Mr. Netanyahu, build a voter database and retain the services of a U.S.-based political consulting firm, 270 Strategies, which has close ties to the Obama White House.

Worse, the Subcommittee was unable to recover all emails between OneVoice and the American consulate office in Jerusalem, owing to the fact Counsel General Michael Ratney deleted the correspondence.

statement from Subcommittee chairman Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) read:

“The Subcommittee’s investigation concludes that OneVoice Israel complied with the terms of its State Department grants. Within days after the grant period ended, however, the group deployed the campaign infrastructure and resources created, in part, using U.S. grant funds to support a political campaign to defeat the incumbent Israeli government known as V15.  That use of government-funded resources for political purposes after the end of the grant period was permitted by the grant because the State Department failed to adequately guard against the risk that campaign resources could be repurposed in that manner or place limitations on the post-grant use of resources.  

The State Department ignored warnings signs and funded a politically active group in a politically sensitive environment with inadequate safeguards.  It is completely unacceptable that U.S. taxpayer dollars were used to build a political campaign infrastructure that was deployed — immediately after the grant ended — against the leader of our closest ally in the Middle East.  American resources should be used to help our allies in the region, not undermine them.”

Perspective

It is very likely Mr. Ratney was the White House’s point man in Jerusalem directing Mr. Obama’s efforts to kneecap Mr. Netanyahu.

The revelation the State Department funded a political group is nothing new; in fact it is a fairly common practice.  That OneVoice used the funds to orchestrate a network of anti-Netanyahu operatives and assemble a database to actively influence the outcome of an election in a democratic nation is deeply troubling.

While the United States has a long, rich history of tinkering with the election frameworks in foreign nations to determine a preferred outcome, it has largely targeted communist or despotic regimes.

It is entirely justifiable for U.S. presidents to be partial to one candidate in a foreign election; however, this example of insurgency against a close friend in Israel is indefensible.

Although the Subcommittee promised reforms which would prevent use of State Department grants for political use, do not expect this White House to embrace them.

 

[Washington Times] [Washington Free Beacon] [Photo courtesy timesofisrael.com]