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Rebuilding Homes Alliance, International Solidarity Movement, Israel

The conference call to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo

By Lee Kaplan

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I was alerted to a conference call to be made on August 8, 2006 to a staffer in the Washington office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D) Palo Alto, by the Rebuilding Homes Alliance (RBHA).

The Rebuilding Homes Alliance is another of the myriad support groups involved with the International Solidarity Movement's activities against the state of Israel. It also lists itself as a 501 c 3 class nonprofit with the IRS and as such collects donations tax-free. It was formerly a part of Global Exchange, another nonprofit that sent $600,000 in fungible items to the Iraqi resistance while our marines fought in Fallujah. RBHA purged its history from the Internet, but, fortunately, that page is cached.

Originally started to play up the hype on the death of ISM activist Rachel Corrie, who played chicken with an Israeli bulldozer in a combat zone and lost, the Rebuilding Homes Alliance is yet another "charity" that all US taxpayers end up subsidizing. It should be noted here also that the RBHA's program to "rebuild houses" was based on a former policy of the Israeli army to destroy the houses that were used by terrorist cells and suicide bombers. One of RBHA's biggest tax free scams has been raising money to "rebuild" the home of Sami Nasrallah, a Palestinian Arab who claims to have lived in the home that Rachel Corrie was "protecting" from an IDF bulldozer.

Corrie, who wrote home that she considered suicide bombers brave martyrs, was in fact not protecting a house. I know because I have the IDF's army video taken the day she was killed. The video shows otherwise. In the video, she is in a trench and playing chicken with the bulldozer whose cab is too high up to see her. Nasrallah toured the US for the RBHA with Rachel Corrie's parents claiming he was one of the first to reach her when she struck, yet neither he nor his house are  anywhere in sight in the video. Doctored photographs were used to represent his house that Associated Press and Reuters later had to withdraw as fakes. Rachel even emailed her parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, the main fundraising attraction for the RBHA, that she participated in bringing the bodies of dead terrorists killed by the IDF out of weapons smuggling tunnels. That means she had access to those tunnels used by terrorists.

The RBHA now collects money for "charity" that goes to alleged NGO's in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. As an educational nonprofit, RBHA  is required by the government to make sure they adhere to IRS regulations. Meanwhile, since money is fungible, once the funds RBHA raises get to Gaza, it's almost impossible to tell for sure where they go. This ploy is used regularly in the USA by pro-Palestinian groups to attract tax free funding. At the same time lobbying is also done contrary to tax regulations. The IRS knows about it, but doesn't try to stop it.

Legitimate educational non-profit organizations are prohibited by IRS regulations from lobbying congress, or engaging in propaganda, but this seems to have meant nothing to the RBA. It already staged a conference call to an aide of Congresswoman Barbara Boxer (D) California, to promote changes to legislation they deem favorable to the Palestinians. The conference call scheduled for August 8th to Eshoo was for similar purposes.

I managed to get the conference call code to join the call to Eshoo's office, but decided to warn the congresswoman's office staff in advance about it being illegal to be lobbied by an educational or charitable 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. I called Washington, D.C. and spoke with Jason Mahler, the staff director for the Congresswoman in D.C.

"You have a conference call scheduled in twenty minutes with the Rebuilding Homes Alliance, however, they are calling to lobby you regarding legislation around hostilities in Gaza and are not permitted to do any lobbying because it is a violation of their nonprofit status," I warned.

Mahler was unmoved, and deigned to hang up. "Do you intend to cancel the conference call?" I asked. He replied, "I don't know you." I referred Mr. Mahler to not just one, but three articles I've written about ISM-linked groups that routinely violate their nonprofit status. I also advised him I intended to write an expose about this call and would be in on the call myself if it was not canceled. I also said I'd notify the IRS criminal investigations division. Mahler did not say he would cancel the call but said he'd consider what I told him, so I logged on and was the first one in on the conference.

After me, came on Rachelle Marshall. Marshall is a dyed-in-the-wool octogenarian Stalinist from Palo Alto, California. She can be seen on street corners around Stanford carrying signs lambasting "American imperialism." If it's anything against America or Israel, Marshall will be sure to be there. She asked if I was from Eshoo's office.

" I'm calling as a favor to the Congresswoman's office," I said. "It is illegal for nonprofits like yours to lobby congress and this call should be canceled." Marshall asked me, "Would the Congresswoman talk to me for $50,000?"

"Excuse me, m'am, are you offering a bribe?" I demanded. Marshall replied, "Well, we don't have $50,000, but what if we were calling with that? I have a right to talk to her." I answered, "Yes, you absolutely do. You can write or telephone her personally the same as any other citizen, however this conference call is for the Rebuilding Homes Alliance as an organizational nonprofit and it's against the law for you to be lobbying. You wouldn't want to get Congresswoman Eshoo in trouble now, would you?"

Soon others came in on the call. Alison Hicks from Mountain View's "Voices for Peace" (funny how all these groups that advocate for Arab jihad goals against the US and Israel put "peace" in their titles). Voices for Peace's website encourages desertion from the US Army in support of the Iraqi resistance. From their website:

Sign the Pledge!

Join the resistance, sign the pledge that you will not serve in the US armed forces as long as they are occupying Iraq, and that you will support those people who have taken the pledge!

The Voices for Peace website also blames Israel for the fight with Hezbollah. The conference call was in part to lobby against any bills supporting Israel or congressional condemnations of Hezbollah.

After a moment, we were joined by a Palestinian from Gaza, Husam El Nounou, the public relations director for the "Gaza Community Mental Health Program."

Rachelle Marshall groused the call was canceled and El Nounou complained this is always how "the poor Palestinians are treated." I advised him that the US Treasury Department has stated private individuals are not allowed to send money or deal with entities in the Palestinian Authority, since the election of Hamas "But we are an NGO for peace and democracy" he wailed. However, his boss and head of the "Gaza Community Health Program," Dr. Eyad Sarraj, has voiced his support and approval for Hamas, even to the point of condoning the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier that helped start the current war. For him, terrorism is "legitimate resistance."

Soon others joined in, and a brouhaha began about the call not happening. Donna Barantski, the President of Rebuilding Homes Alliance came on and began to take charge. "Is this Mr. Kaplan?" she asked. I did not respond, but told her lobbying congress as a 501 c 3 is a violation of her nonprofit status and dealing as private individuals with entities in the Palestinian Authority is illegal and that I would notify the IRS and Homeland Security. Apparently Jason Mahler had tipped Baranstski off about my call and that I was in on the conference, but did not cancel the call because Barantski said, "We're going to hang up and I will email all you a new code so we can do the call again."

Having been cut off, I immediately phoned Jason Mahler again at Anna Eshoo's office in Washington but he was "unavailable." He never returned repeated messages to call me back and neither did Karen Chapman in Eshoo's Palo Alto office. After not having my calls returned, in one last attempt I called Eshoo's district office in Palo Alto, California.

The receptionist on learning what the call was about immediately told me, "The conference call has been canceled pending a review by legal counsel."