The Washington Free Beacon reported that the Carter Center, a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1982 by former US President Jimmy Carter, is being sued for using taxpayer money to aid international terror organizations.
The Zionist Advocacy Center, an Israel advocacy NGO, filed the suit in 2015 accusing the Carter Center of violating federal statutes in providing material support to terror groups after receiving more than $30 million in taxpayer grants. The lawsuit also says that the Carter Center hosted members of terror organizations at its facilities.
Among the terror groups the center allegedly supported are Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), both designated as terror groups by the US government.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) moved to have the case dismissed on the grounds that it will be too expensive to prosecute even though the DOJ acknowledged in its motion that the Carter Center did indeed meet with members from designated terrorist organizations.
“Representatives of the Carter Center have engaged in discussions and meetings with members of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” the government’s motion states. “The primary purposes of these activities were to facilitate dialog between the Palestinian factions and to urge Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist, forgo violence, and accept previous peace agreements.”
DOJ lawyers claim that these activities were not concealed from the public and therefore should not be considered material support for the terror organizations since the activities represented “a difference of opinion with the Carter Center about how to resolve conflict in the Middle East”.
“If the United States were to decline to intervene in the case … the United States, as the real party of interest, likely would be required to devote considerable resources to the litigation,” the DOJ argued.
“The United States has determined that this action should not proceed,” the DOJ wrote.
A hearing on the motion to dismiss was scheduled for Wednesday.
Yifa Segal, director of the International Legal Forum, a nonprofit legal hub for equality in Israel and the Middle East, told the Free Beacon that DOJ’s legal arguments were not sufficient to warrant a dismissal.
“According to U.S. law, the provision of expert advice or assistance otherwise known as material support, even if meant to promote peaceful and lawful conduct, can facilitate terrorism,” Segal said to the Free Beacon.
“The logic is simple. Any service provided to a terror group can help free up other resources within the organization,” Segal explained. “Taking into account that a terror organization, ultimately, aims at executing acts of terror, by freeing resources from other needs, you are very likely to contribute to the organization’s illegal acts of violence, whether you intended to do so or not.”
“It seems that the DOJ is attempting to bury this case by making technical arguments as to this procedure,” Segal said. “Beyond our professional disagreement regarding these particular claims, the question is this: Even if their arguments are correct, why isn’t the government taking different measures to put a stop to this illegal activity?”
The Carter Center has been accused of having an anti-Israel bias in the past. Alan Dershowitz, a prominent attorney and Israel advocate, of setting the focus “away from significant Arab abuses and on Israel’s far less serious ones.” Dershowitz attributes this bias to the center’s significant contributions from Arab sources.