Republican Fundraising in Israel Should Be Investigated, Democratic Activists Charge

Following Haaretz investigation into possible illegal fundraising by Republican Party in Israel, Democrats Abroad-Israel decline to comment on whether they will request official investigation.

Rally meeting of the Israeli-American Donald Trump supporters in Jerusalem, October 26, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Democratic Party activists in Israel say they are concerned, though not surprised, by recent allegations that their Republican counterparts in the country may have engaged in illegal fundraising activities.

“It is consistent with what we have seen coming out of this campaign, and an investigation is absolutely warranted,” said Tally Zingher, the unofficial spokesperson for Democrats Abroad-Israel, the local branch of an international network working to elect Hillary Clinton president of the United States. “It is important that anyone influencing the discourse here in Israeli is fully compliant with U.S. election law. We definitely do not take obligations of law lightly.”

Asked whether her organization was planning to request an investigation into Republican Party fundraising activities in Israel, Zingher responded: “I can’t comment on that.”

According to a report published in Haaretz on Friday by Chaim Levinson, the Israeli organization that represents the Republican Party in Israel has accepted donations from non-Americans, a practice banned by U.S. law when used for an American election campaign. Republicans Overseas Israel, however, has denied any wrongdoing, saying it adheres to Israeli law.

Tzvika Brot, who runs the Republican campaign in Israel, had acknowledged in the report that the party’s local activities have been funded by both Israelis and Americans. He has since clarified that his reference to Israeli was to those who also hold U.S. citizenship, such as GOP leader in Israel Marc Zell – and not to non-Americans. Still, he did not rule out the possibility, in a follow-up question, that non-Americans may have contributed to the campaign in Israel.

The Republicans have run an aggressive campaign in Israel, trying to tap into the right-wing sentiments of many U.S.-citizenship holders living in the country. As part of this campaign, they have tried to portray their presidential candidate as sympathetic to the settler movement. The Democratic campaign in Israel has not been as high profile.