update deskSchools & Higher Education

Lawsuit names WESPAC as ‘official fiscal sponsor’ of pro-Hamas protests

An obscure foundation has allegedly been funneling money to Students for Justice in Palestine.

A pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel student demonstration at San Diego State University, with a sign referring to the local PBS member television station, on April 30, 2024. Credit: Kire1975 via Wikimedia Commons.
A pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel student demonstration at San Diego State University, with a sign referring to the local PBS member television station, on April 30, 2024. Credit: Kire1975 via Wikimedia Commons.

A report in The Washington Free Beacon links an activist foundation to Students for Justice in Palestine, the anti-Israel group fueling protests and anti-Jewish hate on college campuses across North America.

A lawsuit filed by some of the families of those killed on Oct. 7 in the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel names the Westchester Peace Action Committee Foundation (WESPAC) in White Plains, N.Y., as the “official ‘fiscal sponsor’” for SJP, having provided support since 2016.

The suit describes the group’s financial relationship with the university-based agitators as “intentionally opaque to largely shield from public view the flow of funds between and among them.”

WESPAC received $2.4 million in 2022, wrote the Free Beacon, though it did not reveal who provided it or how it was spent. The organization was founded in 1974 by environmental activist Connie Hogarth. Reagan-era records show her linked to entities described as “Soviet-controlled front organizations.”

Kyle Shideler, the director and senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy, said that groups like WESPAC often “have some historical relationship to foreign influence networks that never seem to have gone away.”

One curious anomaly the Free Beacon identified in the foundation’s tax filings was $1.5 million reportedly spent on “office expenses” for a single employee.

Patrick Sternal, a nonprofit consultant and former IRS tax-law specialist, thought the figure suggested that WESPAC sought to hide its spending, saying “this doesn’t look like a particularly transparent organization; this filing raises all sorts of questions.”

Parker Thayer, an investigative reporter at Capital Research Center, called spending 82% of an organization’s budget on office supplies “highly suspicious behavior for a nonprofit that reports paying just one employee while spending $0 on ‘occupancy.’”

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