George Soros pledged $1 million to ‘Hamas propaganda’ organization linked to terrorism

George Soros pledged $1 million to ‘Hamas propaganda’ organization linked to terrorism

The philanthropy of Democratic megadonor George Soros has awarded at least $1 million combined in grants over the last decade to a group in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with deep ties to Palestinian terrorists, financial disclosures show.

In its own telling, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights exists “to promote respect for and protection of human rights,” particularly in Palestinian territories. Public records tell another story: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, which is accusing Israel of genocide for retaliating against Hamas after its Oct. 7 attack last year and calling on the United Nations and other bodies to investigate the Jewish state, hosts events with terrorists and is led by people with sprawling connections to Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

But to Soros, these ties do not appear to pose an issue. His $25 billion left-wing Open Society Foundations grantmaking network “is proud to be among the many international funders of Al Mezan, alongside the European Union and governments including Sweden and the Netherlands,” OSF spokesman Jonathan Kaplan told the Washington Examiner.

Kaplan, the former State Department communications director under former President Barack Obama, declined to comment on Al Mezan’s ties to terrorists when provided with examples.

The checks to Al Mezan underscore how the Soros-backed OSF has long helped keep the lights on for sympathizers and allies of terrorists attacking Israel. Soros, 93, is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor.

And after Oct. 7, a day that saw Palestinian terrorists massacre more than 1,200 Israelis, the billionaire’s grants to anti-Israel zealots domestically and overseas have come under heightened scrutiny from terrorism financing experts and Republicans: They are concerned his staggering wealth could be falling into the hands of violent factions going to war against the Jewish state.

‘Hamas propaganda’
Since at least 2012, funding from the Soros-backed network flowed into the Gaza-based group from his Foundation to Promote Open Society and Open Society Institute, two separate nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS. Open Society Institute also spent thousands of dollars in 2013 and 2014 for at least one individual to intern at Al Mezan, according to tax records reviewed by the Washington Examiner.

In fact, the internship grants were awarded around the same time Palestinian politician Kamal El-Sharafi, Al Mezan’s chairman since at least 2015, met with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Jamil al Majdalawi in Cairo, Egypt, according to a social media post. Politician Kamal El-Sharafi called him “a comrade.”

El-Sharafi has posted images on social media showing him at memorial services for PFLP leaders, including Maher al Yamani, a PFLP co-founder who reportedly helped plan a 1968 hijacking of an Israeli plane and was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Through his role as head of the board of trustees for the Gaza-based Al-Aqsa University, El-Sharafi has also hosted PFLP officials, such as Jamil Mazhar, who was recently crowned as deputy secretary general of the terrorist group, a social media post shows.

OSF’s grants to El-Sharafi’s group have been for it “to monitor and document violations against Palestinians and pursue accountability for abuses,” as well as to track “human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the Gaza Strip,” according to earmarks on OSF financial disclosures for 2019 and 2021 awards carrying three-year terms.

Moreover, tax forms filed in 2012 by the Open Society Institute list a $160,000 grant to the center for a similar purpose.

In turn, Al Mezan has become a well-funded operation seeking to apply pressure on the United Nations to support the International Criminal Court in prosecuting Israeli officials over alleged “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” according to the center’s statements to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council and International Criminal Court submissions. Donors to Al Mezan have also included the European Union, the Netherlands, Sweden, and a group called Save the Children Norway, among others, financial disclosures show.

On Tuesday, Al Mezan hosted an event at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva “exploring the settler-colonial nature of Israel’s genocidal military campaign in #Gaza,” according to a social media post. Last month, Al Mezan addressed the U.N. at its 55th regular session and demanded it conclude Israel engaged in genocide in Gaza — calling for the U.N. “to address Israel’s settler-colonialism, apartheid, illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, and denial of Palestinian self-determination,” according to a written statement.

And on Oct. 8 of last year, just one day after the terrorist attack, Al Mezan released a statement blaming Israel for having the gall to retaliate against Hamas. The statement was made alongside Al-Haq, an Israeli-designated terrorist organization that is also funded by Soros and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which has extensive PFLP ties, according to research compiled by NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog group.

“Under the facade of human rights, they promote Hamas propaganda, and the links to the PFLP terrorist group are clearly documented,” NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg, a politics professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, told the Washington Examiner.

While Al Mezan recently appears to have removed a section on its website listing its board of directors, the Washington Examiner located their names through an archived link with viewable versions from 2015 through 2023.

Al Mezan listed its vice chairman of the board as Talal Awkal, whom the Associated Press quoted in a story days after the Oct. 7 attack as a “political analyst”.

Back in 2010, Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera identified Awkal as a former member of the PFLP, the leaders of which he openly praised as “great historical leaders” in a 2015 op-ed in the Palestinian Al-Hadaf digital magazine. Awkal notably wrote a 2013 article about then-Secretary of State John Kerry on the official website for the PFLP.

Board member Nafiz Al-Madhoun has recently been director general for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council, according to social media posts and his LinkedIn account. He’s also been referred to as a Hamas leader by Arabic language media outlets.

Another Al Mezan employee is Hussein Hammad, who received an award in 2017 from a PFLP branch, according to social media posts.

Meanwhile, the Soros-backed center in Gaza and its personnel have played key roles at certain events with terrorists.

In 2013, Al Mezan organized a “Transitional Justice in Palestine” conference, according to its annual report that year. The conference featured Khaled al-Batsh, PFLP official Kayed al Ghoul, and Hamas official Yahya al Abadseh, Donia Al-Watan reported.

Al Mezan organized a 2015 conference featuring speeches on the International Criminal Court from senior Hamas official Khalil al Hayya and Khaled al Batsh, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader. Al Mezan Center General Director Issam Younis spoke at the event, according to the Gaza-based group.

Younis through his prior role as commissioner general for the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights has participated in at least one meeting in recent years with leaders from Hamas, the PFLP, and other groups, according to an archived press release.

Al Madhoun, the Al Mezan board member, participated in a March 2023 event in Gaza called “Jurists Confronting the Occupier” alongside Hamas officials Mahmoud al Zahar and Musa Abu Marzouq, according to a report by the Israeli-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which called him the “former secretary general of Hamas’ Legislative Council.”

Pressed over Al Mezan’s ties to terrorists, OSF’s Kaplan said none of the grantmaker’s foreign partners have been designated by the United States as supporting terrorism.

“There is strict U.S. anti-terrorist legislation that determines which organizations a foundation like OSF can fund,” the spokesman said. “We devote a lot of effort to ensuring full compliance.”

“The Open Society Foundations do not support Hamas,” Kaplan added. “The Open Society Foundations abhor terrorism in all its forms. Accusations that are being repeated in the media and that have been picked up by some officials are false.”

But to one terrorism expert, U.S. laws desperately need to be strengthened to block tax-exempt groups from being able to fund terrorist-linked foreign entities, including Al Mezan.

“All it takes for Soros to avail himself of these loopholes is to find an intermediary between the sanctioned person or group and OSF,” said Marc Greendorfer, an attorney and president of the Zachor Legal Institute think tank. Al Mezan did not return requests for comment.

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