Apple Matches Worker Donations to IDF and Illegal Settlements, Employees Allege

An open letter from Apple employees and shareholders demands the tech giant stop matching employee donations to organizations with ties to the Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip and ongoing illegal settlement development in the West Bank. The letter, building on a previous demand by Apple employees for a ceasefire in the conflict, calls on the company to “promptly investigate and cease matching donations to all organizations that further illegal settlements in occupied territories and support the IDF.” 

As with many large corporations, Apple employees can make donations to a number of nonprofit organizations and receive matching contributions from their employer through a platform called Benevity. Among the charitable organizations eligible for dollar-matching from Apple are Friends of the IDF, an organization that collects donations on behalf of soldiers in the Israeli military, as well as a number of groups that contribute to the settlement enterprise in the West Bank, including HaYovel, One Israel Fund, the Jewish National Fund, and IsraelGives.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

“Unfortunately, there has been very little scrutiny into 501(c)(3) organizations that openly support illegal activities in the West Bank and Gaza,” said Diala Shamas, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who described the organizations listed in the campaign as among “the worst actors.”

A legislative effort in New York called the “Not On Our Dime Act” is seeking to challenge the ability of nonprofit organizations in the state to fundraise for illegal settlements, including by making them subject to legal liability or loss of their nonprofit status. Laws against funding activities that violate international human rights law are poorly enforced by the IRS, said Shamas, leaving it to companies and individuals themselves to ensure that their contributions are not going toward organizations potentially engaged in illegal activity.

“Companies often rely on the fact that an organization has 501(c)(3) status. But regardless of whether an organization has nonprofit status, it is illegal to aid and abet war crimes,” Shamas said. “Apple should ensure that it is not sending funds to any of these organizations — especially now when there’s no shortage of evidence or information about the unlawful activities of the settlement movement in the West Bank.”

Apple employees, who organized under the name Apples4Ceasefire, had previously objected to the disciplining and firing of Apple Store employees who “dared to express support of the Palestinian people in the form of kaffiyehs, pins, bracelets, or clothing,” according to a public statement published in April.

The letter — signed by 133 people who describe themselves as “a group of shareholders and current and former employees” — comes on the heels of broader activism at tech companies by some workers objecting to perceived complicity between their employers and the ongoing war in Gaza. Earlier this year, Google fired dozens of employees who took part in a protest over the company’s involvement in a cloud-computing project known as Project Nimbus, which provided services to the Israeli government and military. An open letter from employees of Meta — which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — has criticized its treatment of Palestinian solidarity within the company.

The provision of donations to NGOs helping facilitate the illegal occupation of the West Bank has come under increasing scrutiny as the situation in the region has deteriorated since the October 7 attacks by Hamas and subsequent Israeli military onslaught. Tens of thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, are believed to have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces in a campaign that has resulted in war crimes charges brought by the International Criminal Court and genocide charges at the International Court of Justice. 

The conduct and discipline of the IDF has come under particular scrutiny as soldiers have been accused of torture, extrajudicial killings, and other abuses against Palestinians, alongside social media footage posted by many IDF service members themselves of apparent looting and mistreatment of Palestinian detainees. Friends of the IDF, one of the charities on Apple’s matching donations list, is registered as a nonprofit organization for the purposes of fundraising for IDF service members and claims to have transferred $34.5 million in donations to the Israeli military in the first weeks after the war began.

This conflict windfall has helped other organizations on Apple’s matching contribution list. An analysis by The Guardian last December showed that the crowdfunding platform IsraelGives received over $5.3 million in donations in just two months after the war to support military, paramilitary, and settlement activity in the West Bank. The same analysis showed that this money came disproportionately from U.S. donors, and included specific funding campaigns to support illegal settlements whose residents had a history of violent attacks against Palestinian civilians. 


Apple Matches Worker Donations to IDF and Illegal Settlements, Employees Allege 1

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Other organizations on Apple’s matching contribution list appear to include support for religious extremism or back activity in the West Bank deemed illegal under international law. The One Israel Fund, for example, includes on its website a talk titled “The Arab Takeover of Judea and Samaria: Who Is Behind It; What Can Be Done?” — invoking the religious name of the territory that is deemed to be part of a future Palestinian state under international law. HaYovel, a Christian Zionist organization, states on its website that its goal is to help further the “prophetic restoration” of a region that “many incorrectly refer to as the West Bank.” The charitable status of the Jewish National Fund has come under criticism in both the U.S. and European Union due its historic involvement in the “systematic discrimination” against Palestinians since the founding of the state of Israel, as well as ongoing support for dispossession of Palestinians in the West Bank. 

Like many of its competitors, Apple professes a corporate commitment to “respecting internationally recognized human rights” frameworks, including the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to its website. Since the war began, the U.N. Human Rights Office has repeatedly decried atrocities committed by the IDF.

The post Apple Matches Worker Donations to IDF and Illegal Settlements, Employees Allege appeared first on The Intercept.