WESPAC (Westchester Peace Action Committee) Foundation is a New York based nonprofit organization that funds and supports community-based and activist initiatives. While bolstering numerous laudable causes, such as food justice, reproductive justice and racial justice, WESPAC also serves as a major node in the funding and administration of campus anti-Israel and pro-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) groups, including some which have expressed support for armed confrontation with Israel or have attempted to ostracize “Zionists” from community spaces. In fact, it appears, based on publicly available information since 2000, that most of WESPAC’s current or former fiscal sponsorships goes to support anti-Israel projects and groups.
Vilification of Zionism and Zionists may be seen as a rhetorical attack on most Jews globally who feel connected to Israel or who view a positive relationship with Israel as an inherent part of their Jewish identities.
While WESPAC is not an exclusively anti-Israel organization, the significant number of groups and projects it fiscally sponsors, which have repeatedly propagated antisemitism or called for violence against Israel, is deeply troubling. WESPAC’s administrative support of these groups helps ensure that inflammatory and at times antisemitic language remains an issue in a notable segment of left-wing spaces.
While WESPAC hosts rhetoric on its own website that espouses concerning ideas about Zionism/Jews, it’s also notable how the organization provides monetary backing to other organizations with much more significant track records of antisemitism. WESPAC uses its tax-exempt status as an NGO to provide financial support to groups and initiatives that actively denigrate, disparage and attempt to ostracize pro-Israel and Jewish communities, at times using blatant antisemitic language. As a fiscal sponsor, WESPAC receives and administers donations on behalf of groups such as National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP). WESPAC then keeps a percentage of the donation and gives the rest to the groups/projects that it fiscally sponsors.
Groups the organization fiscally sponsors that engage in antisemitic anti-Israel activity are Adalah NY, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Palestinian Youth Movement, US Palestinian Community Network, and Within Our Lifetime. WESPAC occasionally will sponsor and participate in Israel Apartheid Weeks.
Other groups, such as Librarians and Archivists with Palestine, Palestine Freedom Project, and Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians (LEAP), are anti-Israel, but do not necessarily cross into inflammatory or antisemitic rhetoric on a regular basis. It appears, based on publicly available information since 2000, that most of WESPAC’s current or former fiscal sponsorships are of anti-Israel projects and groups.
WESPAC Fiscal Sponsorships: 2000-Present
A glimpse into the groups WESPAC fiscally sponsors, in their own words:
Within Our Lifetime
- WOL is a self-described community organization dedicated to “freeing” Palestine “within our lifetime.” The group is based in New York but has had a far-reaching impact. They are known to host rallies at which protestors have shown support for Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
- In June 2022, the organization released this tweet about CUNY, declaring Zionists have no place in the CUNY school system.
- The main Instagram account was banned in March 2022 for a collage on International Women’s Day, venerating PFLP member Leila Khaled, notorious for her role as the first female plane hijacker in the TWA Flight 840 hijacking in 1969, and Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted on helping to plan the bombing that killed two students in a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing.
- WOL leader Nerdeen Kiswani routinely engages in rhetoric that goes far beyond being merely anti-Israel. She has demonized Zionists and Zionism and has repeatedly expressed support for armed resistance against Israelis:
- In a July 22, 2022 Instagram story, Kiswani expresses her hope that Israel “will be wiped off the map.”
- In an August 5, 2022, Instagram story: Kiswani expresses a desire to “eradicate Zionism and the entity [Israel] that massacres Palestinians daily.”
Palestinian Youth Movement
- It has wholeheartedly endorsed the Mapping Project, widely condemned throughout the Jewish community as being antisemitic. The project essentially names, shames and blames Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts for many of the world's problems and specifically calls out Zionism as a "harm," thus implicating the vast majority of the Jewish community that identifies in some way with the state of Israel.
- May 25, 2022: PYM posted a photo of a group of individuals, one of whom is carrying a rifle, along with a message praising “one of the great defeats of Zionism; a triumph of our great Resistance.”
- At a 2017 PYM convened roundtable, a speaker claimed, “we know, you know about the ways in which Ashkenazic Zionism has always been a white supremacist separatist movement… we can have a conversation about some of the reach and the tentacles of Zionism you know in context, in Palestine.”
US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)
- The USPCN is a coalition of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian Americans who promote a one-state solution and are actively opposed to the existence of a Jewish state. The organization has praised and offered a platform to individuals such as Rasmea Odeh, a former member of the PFLP who was convicted by Israeli courts for partaking in the murder of two Israeli students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969.
- In 2022, they continued to endorse full anti-normalization, protesting Israeli singer and performer Netta Barzilai’s appearance at the Chicago Pride March for the sole reason that she is “Zionist.”
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
- IJAN is a policy-oriented, left-wing organization that is opposed to Zionism. Unlike most organizations of this nature, IJAN was established by a Jewish individual and perpetrates the notion that Israel is an oppressive state and therefore should not exist.
- In a number of tweets and resources on their website, they denigrate Zionists, claim Zionism is racism, and call for the full exclusion of Zionists from any “anti-racist” space.