Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations make it clear that advocacy of crimes, including "civil disobedience," is grounds for terminating an organization’s nonprofit status. Why then has the IRS not withdrawn the tax-exempt status it granted to Michael Lerner’s Tikkun as a nonprofit and demanded back taxes on all the money he has collected over the years while advocating illegal acts?
The law is clear: "A trust cannot be created for a purpose which is illegal. The purpose is illegal...if the trust tends to induce the commission of crime or if the accomplishment of the purpose is otherwise against public policy." Further: "Not only is the actual conduct of illegal activities inconsistent with exemption, but the planning and sponsoring of such activities are also incompatible with charity and social welfare." Yet Tikkun (which uses tax ID number 94-2527904 as a 501c3 nonprofit) has repeatedly and blatantly violated provisions against advocating civil disobedience in violation of IRS tax codes
Tikkun activists can be found at almost all of the most virulent anti-Israel and anti-American functions put on by groups such as the Arab-American Anti-discrimination Committee, Al Awda (the Return), International Answer, and United for Peace and Justice. Most of these groups also encourage civil disobedience—a tactic that today is inspired less by Ghandi than by anarchist thugs trashing storefronts--at American taxpayers’ expense while enjoying nonprofit status.
A 60’s Berkeley radical turned radical rabbi, Lerner has become the poster boy for Arab interests who seek to portray "good Jews" as those who support Arab goals against the state of Israel and against American troops in Iraq. Part of a play-it-as-it-goes Judaism, Lerner has made himself a well known personality in radical leftist circles, the "Jewish voice" who can be counted on to appear at leftwing demonstrations and certify as kosher pro-Arab and Muslim organizations seeking to dismantle Israel and oppose US forces in Iraq. Many serious Jews believe that by making common cause with anti-Semitic organizations and apologists for terrorism, Lerner is more a radical opportunist than a "teacher" of the Jewish people.
Lerner’s successful leftist publication Tikkun, frequently repeats Arab libels against Israel—claiming, for instance, that European Jews landed in the Mideast to steal the land of the Palestinians (most of Israel’s Jewish population are refugees from Arab lands and the Zionist movement legally purchased all its land holdings prior to the war in 1948). The Tikkun website frequently asks for donations to rebuild "Palestinian homes" that were demolished by the Israel Defense Force because they housed terrorist cells or bomb factories. Lerner’s diatribes against Israel and US forces in Iraq match PLO propaganda almost verbatim and as a result he is frequently welcomed by International Solidarity Movement and other anti-Israel groups as a "true" Jewish voice. .
Lerner’s own experience of civil disobedience comes from the Weatherman-like actions he was involved with in Seattle and elsewhere during the 1960s: the spontaneous demonstration that quickly gets out of hand. There is little doubt what Tikkun wants to happen when it repeatedly advocates civil disobedience in violation of IRS tax codes on its website:
Thursday morning: April 11  Nonviolent Protest (and possibly civil disobedience)at The U.S. State Department (near Foggy Bottom subway station) Be there at 10:30 a.m. Action begins: 11 a.m.
Only people committed to non-violence are welcome. Let us know if you are coming: email@example.com If you know you are planning to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience, please send us your name, name of contact person should you be arrested and their phone number and email, your driver's license or other i.d. number, your home address, and your home phone and email. Do not resist arrest. And come on Wednesday night to the event at Temple Shalom if that is at all possible for you. Contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415 575 1200
From the Tikkun website:
Join TIKKUN COMMUNITY co-chairs Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cornel West in a demonstration at the State Department in D.C. at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, or in similar demonstrations in NYC and S.F. that same day. Sorry to inconvenience you during the work week, but the slaughter is happening right now. Some of us may engage in non-violent civil disobedience (depending on whether it makes sense given developments till that moment), others will be there to publicly support our call for an international force to intervene immediately to separate and protect both sides.
In NEW YORK CITY Thursday, April 11: Vigil at Israel Consulate with possible non-violent civil disobedience. Tikkun Community will follow the lead of John Deats,. of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. More info: Rev. Richard Deats Editor, Fellowship magazine Box 271 Nyack, NY 10960 845.358-4601. Fax 845-358-4924
Then, that evening, April 11, Rabbi Lerner will speak and meet with people interested in The Tikkun Community at the Church of St Paul and St. Martin, northeast corner of 86th and West End Ave, 7 p.m. Spread the word, please! And bring dessert!
San Francisco: Thursday April 11 Israeli Consulate this Thursday at Noon at 456 Montgomery Street between Sacramento and California in downtown San Francisco, where we will hold a press conference during which we will present officials at the Consulate with a DECLARATION OF BAY AREA JEWS FOR AN END TO THE OCCUPATION AND FOR AN IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF VIOLENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Possible non-violent civil disobedience, depending on world circumstances.
On another page of the Tikkun website, Lerner acknowledges that Tikkun advocates civil disobedience not just against Israel, but also the U.S. government:
One step we need to consider to get the U.S. government to change its policies and support this more balanced perspective for peace and justice is to engage in civil disobedience. Would you join us in doing so were we to call for such a day of civil disobedience, either in your own town or in D.C. If you would, let us know immediately--email
RabbiLerner@tikkun.org and let us know if you'd come to DC for such or whether you'd organize a group of people in your own community to participate at a local public place.
In fact, Lerner wants to develop a Rapid Response Team to engage in civil disobedience not just in the nation’s capital, but in cities all over the country, too.
"We must nonviolently resist attacks upon our freedoms and what we deem to be excesses of our foreign and domestic policies. Such nonviolent resistance would include, at the appropriate time and place, civil disobedience for which we would accept fair legal penalties as an integral part…."
By "fair legal penalties," Lerner is referring to the usual drill of the civil disobedience arrest: a few minutes at court to be quickly released in time to attend the victory party, with a suspended sentence later on. But the fair penalty for what he has advocated should be revocation of Tikkun’s nonprofit status.
There is a title waiting for Michael Lerner’s next book: how an ex-60’s radical repackaged himself as a rabbi and found a new way to develop a sinecure for himself while aiding terrorist movements overseas and their insurgency allies in Iraq—tax free. It is a story that is probably worth telling, but the U.S. taxpayer should not have to subsidize it.
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