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Are your investments funding terrorism? And shouldn’t American corporations be held accountable for their funding of UNRWA and other terrorist-supporting organizations?

In a commentary published at The Hill, Free Enterprise Project Associate Ethan Peck reveals that “funding terrorism apologists — and in some cases even terrorist collaborators — is a common practice among large U.S. corporations, who regularly misappropriate exorbitant amounts of shareholder money to advance a number of political causes.”

Read Ethan’s entire piece below.


Six employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) directly participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack against Israel, it was recently revealed. At least 12 UNRWA employees had connections to the attack, and about 10 percent of the organization’s staff have ties to terrorist groups, including Hamas.

Ethan Peck

Ethan Peck

Consequently, 18 countries, including the U.S., have suspended aid to UNRWA. One week after these developments, a Hamas data center was also found directly beneath UNRWA headquarters in Gaza.

But as consequential as this news was in swaying national governments to suspend aid to UNRWA, American corporations have not yet ceased contributions or even commented on the matter, despite years of giving to the group.

My organization submitted a shareholder proposal to Mastercard requesting that the company audit whether its contributions to and partnerships with UNRWA and a number of other ostensible humanitarian organizations are violating its own human rights policy.

We submitted the proposal to Mastercard in December — a month before the UNRWA employees’ involvement in the Oct. 7 attack was reported. The reason is that, as explosive as these revelations were to some, anyone who has paid closer attention to the conflict knows that UNRWA’s terrorist infiltration is not news.

It has long been an open secret that UNRWA and other charities operating in Gaza and the West Bank regularly aid and abet terrorists. Foreign aid to Palestinians often ends up in the hands of terrorists from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah. This is all in addition to the publicly facing fact that UNRWA openly propagandizes for the terrorists, especially during wartime, and indoctrinates children in its education system with incitements to violence and antisemitism. These on their own would be sufficient reasons for American companies not to give them a cent.

This is why these revelations, although they make the need to defund UNRWA more obvious, are not needed to classify UNRWA as unworthy of any support from shareholders.

This is a point put forward in our shareholder proposal that we reiterated in negotiations with Mastercard. Companies shouldn’t pick sides on any divisive issue (although they regularly do to their own detriment), and they should definitely stay out of one of the most divisive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, their fiduciary duty to shareholders, whose political opinions vary, legally requires them to remain neutral unless they can draw a direct, unassailable line from their position to an increase in shareholder value, which of course Mastercard cannot do here.

In this particular case, giving to UNRWA — or even just providing a platform for others to give to UNRWA, as Mastercard has done — is much worse than just taking a side. It is literally funding terrorism. But Mastercard is standing its ground, refusing to pull funds or stop hosting a donation platform for UNRWA. And the company has been covering this up.

Just a few weeks ago, the company’s giving page included a UN Foundations button, which redirected to this page, which lists UNRWA as a recipient of funds. Now that UN Foundations button is nowhere to be found on Mastercard’s giving page and can be accessed only with a direct link.

I asked the company’s staffers about this. Why, if they’re self-aware enough to realize that giving to and hosting a donation platform for UNRWA is a bad look, don’t they agree to cut funds and ties to UNRWA altogether? They didn’t respond.

Clearly, Mastercard’s actions are sinister, but unfortunately, they’re not unique. One thing I have learned from my numerous engagements with corporations is that they are all roughly the same — owned by the same asset managers, led by the same board members and proponents of the same woke agenda.

This is why Mastercard is not the only corporate funder of terrorism via humanitarian aid. And it’s not just a matter of companies that give to UNRWA directly — as Microsoft does, for example — but also, and even more commonly, of corporations that give to other UN organizations, which then allocate a portion of their budget to UNRWA. For example, UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNDP are all among UNRWA’s top funders.

Many if not most large corporations give to at least one of these without a second thought. However winding the money trail is, and however altruistic the intentions, some of that shareholder money is still ending up in the hands of terrorists whose goal is to kill innocent Jews, which also ends up killing innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire.

There is also the issue of companies giving to organizations credibly accused of spreading and amplifying Hamas propaganda, indirectly or by omission helping the group to achieve its cynical and deadly goals — still an inappropriate use of shareholder funds.

In short, funding terrorism apologists — and in some cases even terrorist collaborators — is a common practice among large U.S. corporations, who regularly misappropriate exorbitant amounts of shareholder money to advance a number of political causes.

If even the Biden administration and the socialist governments of Europe can figure this one out, American companies should be able to figure it out, too.


Ethan Peck is an associate for the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research. This first appeared at The Hill.

Author: Ethan Peck