Photo Credit: S Martin
Anuradha Mittal, February 24, 2012.

Anuradha Mittal, the founder of the Oakland Institute, a progressive think tank, and head of the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s, has been the subject of a complaint to the IRS regarding her alleged funneling of thousands of dollars in cash from “her” corporation to her foundation.

The group that launched the complaint is the National Legal and Policy Center, a right-leaning 501(c)(3) non-profit group that monitors and reports on the ethics of public officials, supporters of liberal causes, and labor unions in the United States.

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In early August, The Washington Free Beacon reported (Ben and Jerry’s Gave $170,000 in Grants to Board Trustee’s Anti-Israel Foundation) that “the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation steered over $170,000 in grants to an anti-Israel nonprofit group run by one of its board directors, a potential violation of self-dealing laws, according to an ethics watchdog organization.”

The report noted that “Anuradha Mittal is a trustee at the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which has awarded $170,500 in grants to the Oakland Institute, an advocacy group that Mittal founded and where she serves as the paid executive director.”

According to the NY Post (Head of Ben & Jerry’s board accused of alleged self-dealing), “Part of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation cash went to finance the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. The controversial human rights group in the West Bank received $3,000 from the foundation in 2017, according to tax filings.”

The NY Post also noted that “last year, the European Union pulled nearly $2 million worth of funding from BADIL after it refused to sign an ‘anti-terror’ clause in its funding contract. The clause stated that none of the EU’s funds would be diverted to members of terrorist organizations, such as the military wings of Hamas and Hezbollah.”

According to NGO Monitor, “on December 30, 2019, BADIL and other Palestinian NGOs launched a ‘Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding’ which rejects new requirements in European Union grant contracts that prohibit grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. In the campaign, BADIL labeled this policy as ‘conditioned funding’ and ‘so-called anti-terrorism clauses and policies … on preventing terrorism that affects the history and struggle of our people, justified the use of violence, and claimed that the “Palestinian resistance factions are not terrorist organizations.”

According to NGO Monitor, “on May 7, 2020, BADIL published a position paper calling EU measures that bar funding to organizations on the EU’s terror lists “not only morally and politically unacceptable, but also illegal in consideration of international law. BADIL is a member of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), which also vehemently opposed the requirements. PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.”

Incidentally, in July, Anuradha Mittal’s group published a 2006 article by Green Party Senate candidate Todd Chretien (Inside the Middle East Humanitarian Crisis), who wrote, while the second Israel-Lebanon war was going on: “It is not the American anti-war movement’s job to lecture the people of the Middle East on how to conduct their resistance. You do not have to agree with all of Hezbollah’s ideas to support their resistance to Israel. Condemning “both sides” in the Middle East is just like condemning ‘both sides’ in the American Civil War.”

“The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation grants to the Oakland Institute could run afoul of self-dealing laws, which prohibit private foundations from using funds to benefit their trustees, according to the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group,” the Beacon wrote. “Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever have been under increased scrutiny since the ice cream company’s July decision to boycott Israel. Several states have moved to divest from Unilever following the backlash.”

According to the IRS (Self-Dealing by Private Foundations: Use of Foundation’s Income or Assets), “Transfer to, or use by or for the benefit of, a disqualified person of the income or assets of a private foundation is an act of self-dealing.”

Also according to the IRS (Disqualified Person – Intermediate Sanctions), “a disqualified person is any person who was in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the applicable tax-exempt organization at any time during the lookback period. It is not necessary that the person actually exercise substantial influence, only that the person be in a position to do so.”

On August 19, NLPC President David Ridenour reminded us of Unilever’s dark past of supporting anti-Semitism and Nazism (Why Unilever Should Shed the Ben & Jerry’s Brand):

“In response to anti-Jewish measures in Germany during the 1930s, Unilever replaced Jews on its supervisory boards. In 1938, the company even appointed Karl Blessing to lead Unilever NV’s presidium. Blessing was a member of the Reichsbank executive board, the central bank of the German Reich from 1876 until 1945. … As then-CEO of Unilever Paul Rykens put it, “In Germany, we are a German firm.”

“Shortly after Kristallnacht, Rykens asked his board for permission to start negotiations to acquire an interest in A.E. Wasserman, a Jewish-owned bank. Unilever’s stake in the bank was kept below 50% to keep its participation in Germany’s Aryanization program under the radar. ‘The fact that we are only a sleeping partner will restrict not only our actual liability to this amount but also our moral responsibility,’ Rykens wrote. ‘The actual facts will only be disclosed to the Government Bank Controller, whereas for the outside world our participation will be given in the name of a third party.’”

“While Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, has been singled out for punishment, Unilever continues to do business with Iran, Iraq, and Syria—countries committed to Israel’s destruction,” Ridenour wrote. “Although Ben & Jerry’s ice cream isn’t sold in those countries, until December it operated in Malaysia, the most anti-Semitic country in Asia. In 2019, Malaysia banned Israeli athletes from participating in Paralympic Games it was hosting, prompting the International Paralympic Committee to move the games elsewhere. Its prime minister at the time, Mahathir Mohamad, said, ‘The Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively’ and ‘I’m glad to be labeled anti-Semitic.’”

With that in mind, Ridenour recommended: “Getting rid of the Ben & Jerry’s brand may be the only way Unilever can prove it has broken from its anti-Semitic past.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.