Non-profit

American Friends Service Committee

Location:

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Tax ID:

23-1352010

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

1917

General Secretary:

Joyce Ajlouny

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a left-of-center, Quaker-related organization that supports left-progressive policy on immigration, criminal justice, and economic issues. AFSC has advocated for several left-wing policies, including abolishing all prisons, defunding law enforcement organizations, and eliminating funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). [1] [2]

Initially founded as an international aid organization, AFSC has become one of the leading American organizations supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to delegitimize and undermine the state of Israel. [3] Despite supporting BDS against Israel, AFSC itself acknowledged in 2021 that “sanctions impede the delivery of humanitarian aid,” forcing innocent civilians to “bear the burden of ineffective, dangerous, and counterproductive U.S. foreign policy.” [4]

AFSC has reported funding from some of the most prominent left-of-center organizations in the world, including the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. [5]

History

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker-related organization founded in 1917. AFSC’s original purpose was to allow individuals who refused to fight during World War I other ways to serve the United States, such as administering medical care on battlefields. [6]

In its early history, AFSC focused primarily on foreign policy initiatives. In the aftermath of World War II, AFSC sent aid teams to India, China, and Japan to assist in reconstruction efforts. Some of AFSC’s foreign policy goals have run directly counter to American foreign policy objectives, with AFSC providing aid to citizens in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. [7] In 1947, AFSC accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all Quakers. [8]

In the 1960s, AFSC shifted its focus to include domestic issues, working on school desegregation during the civil rights movement. Today, AFSC spends much of its programming promoting left-of-center domestic policy on immigration, criminal justice, and economic issues. [9]

Domestic Policy Advocacy

In recent years, American Friends Service Committee has expanded its scope to work on domestic policy issues. AFSC works primarily to support left-of-center policies to issues in economic policy, criminal justice, and immigration.

Economic Policy

AFSC supports widespread redistribution programs, arguing that the United States spends “billions of dollars on violent systems of oppression, policing, war, and incarceration.” AFSC advocates for the redistribution of military and criminal justice funding to social entitlement programs and education. [10]

In May 2019, AFSC participated in a nationwide protest against military spending, claiming that discretionary spending allocated to the Pentagon should be redistributed to support left-of-center social justice initiatives, including free public housing, student debt forgiveness, and the so-called Green New Deal. Other left-of-center organizations joined the protest, including the New York War Tax Resistance, United for Peace and Justice, and World Beyond War. [11]

AFSC has also supported left-of-center labor policy. The organization has called for increased unionization, an increased minimum wage, and mandatory paid sick leave. [12] In March 2021, AFSC joined a coalition of left-wing organizations including the Institute for Policy Studies, Greenpeace, and Public Citizen to support the passage of the PRO Act, legislation that would implement left-wing labor policies, including allowing unions to forcibly collect dues from workers who have opted-out of union representation, barring employers from giving employees information opposed to unions, and holding executives personally liable for labor disputes. [13]

Immigration

AFSC supports several left-wing immigration proposals, including fully defunding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). AFSC alleges that immigration enforcement agencies have “terrorized our communities” and calls for current ICE and CBP budget funding to be removed and reinvested in education, healthcare, and left-of-center entitlement programs. [14]

AFSC is also a member of Defund Hate, a coalition of left-of-center and left-wing organizations that support left-of-center immigration policy, including defunding immigration enforcement efforts. [15] The Defund Hate coalition also includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Bend the Arc, Earth Justice, Indivisible, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MomsRising, MoveOn.org, and the Sierra Club. [16]

AFSC has supported initiatives to protect and expand the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs, which prevent removal actions against millions of migrants. [17] [18]

AFSC has also called for a complete end to immigrant detention and incarceration more broadly. [19] In February 2021, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) would end its contract with private prison companies. AFSC accused the move of not going far enough because it exempted migrant detention facilities from the new regulation. [20]

To support illegal immigrants in the United States, AFSC has organized demonstrations in support of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement officials to enforce immigration policy. [21] In addition to seeking to end all immigrant detentions, AFSC has called for expanded asylum eligibility, urging the United States to further open its borders. [22] In April 2021, AFSC again criticized the Biden administration for announcing plans to keep a cap on refugees established during the Trump administration in effect. [23]

AFSC has rejected even left-of-center proposals on immigration policy, claiming that they do not go far enough in expanding the American immigration system. In January 2021, President Biden announced a plan which would establish an eight-year pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Despite the proposal being called the “most sweeping immigration reform package since 1986,” AFSC representatives claimed that eight years was too long for illegal immigrants to wait before receiving full citizenship. [24]

Criminal Justice

AFSC has supported left-wing policies on criminal justice, including calls for the private sector to entirely divest from the prison system. AFSC partnered with the left-of-center shareholder advocacy organization As You Sow to build a platform listing companies that use prison labor or support border detention facilities. The platform is designed to encourage individuals and pension funds to divest all asserts from any company connected to the prison system. [25] AFSC has also called for a complete end to the prison system and incarceration altogether. [26]

In 2020, AFSC published an article detailing “6 reasons why it’s time to defund the police.” AFSC claims that policing was “established to maintain white supremacy,” does not protect citizens, and cannot be reformed. The article also endorsed defunding policing across the country in order to free up increased funding for left-of-center social programs like government-funded housing and healthcare. [27] AFSC has gone so far as to claim that the police system “regularly murders Black people with impunity” and has listed the fact that African-American organizers with the left-wing Movement for Black Lives have called for defunding the police as one of its reasons to do so. [28]

AFSC has supported and partnered with a number of left-of-center organizations on criminal justice issues. AFSC has given the Movement for Black Lives platform a full endorsement. [29] AFSC has also partnered with the Black Liberation Movement and the Democratic Socialists of America to organize anti-policing events. [30]

Aside from advocating for abolishing policing, AFSC has also partnered with left-of-center organizations to demand an end to the 1033 Program, an initiative by the Department of Defense (DOD) to transfer unused military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. AFSC, alongside the National Priorities Project (NPP) and the Poor People’s Campaign, has drafted a model resolution calling upon cities to reject offers of equipment made by the DOD in order to end the program. [31]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, AFSC partnered with a number of left-of-center organizations to demand that prisoners receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations. In an open letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), AFSC joined with the left-of-center ACLU of Michigan, the Detroit Justice Center, and Michigan Liberation to demand that prisoners receive COVID-19 vaccines before everyday civilians. [32]

Involvement in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

AFSC is an avowed supporter of the left-wing BDS movement against Israel, which calls for activists to boycott and divest from companies with investments in Israel and calls for sanctions against the nation in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy. AFSC refers to Israel as “occupied Palestinian territory” and claims that Israel has denied Palestinians “their basic civil, political, and human rights.” [33] AFSC also leads the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a left-wing umbrella organization for BDS groups. [34]

Throughout its history, AFSC has expressed increasing anti-Israel sentiments, acting as legal representatives for the radical Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Jerusalem in the 1970s. [35] AFSC has since become a leading voice in the BDS movement, partnering with the left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine to train campus activists in support of the BDS movement. AFSC has assisted student organizers in drafting resolutions to demand that colleges and universities divest from companies that do business in Israel. [36]

AFSC has sent speakers to participate in BDS events, including AFSC general secretary Joyce Ajlouny. Ajlouny has previously justified Palestinian violence against Israel by claiming that “feelings of revenge and retaliation” can be difficult to manage. [37] [38] At another event at Temple University, Aljouny participated in a program that accused pro-Israel organizations of weaponizing anti-Semitism and stifling free speech. [39]

AFSC has also supported far-left calls to end U.S. support of Israel, endorsing a 2020 letter written by left-wing U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) which claimed that Israel’s proposal to annex portions of the West Bank was the first step to establishing an “apartheid state.” [40] In April 2021, AFSC endorsed a proposal co-sponsored by left-wing U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) which sought to place conditions on U.S. aid to Israel, including banning the detention of Palestinian juveniles and ceasing development in the West Bank. Far-left organizations including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the Progressive Democrats of America, and IfNotNow also backed the measure. [41]

AFSC has contradicted itself regarding its BDS policy. AFSC has argued that BDS “has proven effective as a nonviolent tool for realizing political and social change.” [42] Nonetheless, in 2021, AFSC signed a letter which admitted that “sanctions impede the delivery of humanitarian aid and the result of is civilians bear the burden of ineffective, dangerous, and counterproductive U.S. foreign policy.” [43]

Financing and Leadership

AFSC is classified as a church and is therefore not required to disclose its annual budget to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). [44] In 2019, AFSC published its own annual financial report, listing total revenues of $31,833,690 and total expenses of $34,188,244. [45] AFSC also reported $157,250,142 in net assets. [46]

AFSC has been financially supported by some of the most prominent left-of-center foundations in the world, including the Ford Foundation, the California Endowment, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation. [47] [48] Each of these organizations gave more than $25,000 to AFSC in 2019 alone, though the exact contribution amounts are unclear. [49]

AFSC has also accepted contributions over $25,000 from left-of-center advocacy organizations, including the Alliance for Housing Justice, the American Immigration Council (AIC), the Alliance for Safety and Justice, FWD.us, and the Immigrant Justice Corps. [50]

Joyce Ajlouny has been the general secretary of AFSC since September 2017. Aljouny is a noted anti-Israel activist, working at the Palestinian Ramallah School for 13 years. Ajlouny has previously worked for Oxfam and at the United Nations. [51] Aljouny has called for the Biden administration to commit itself to the BDS movement, claimed that Israel has committed war crimes and human rights abuses, and supported withholding all military aid from Israel until it cedes territory to Palestine. [52]

References

  1. “Join the Call to #FreeThemAll.” American Friends Service Committee, April 16, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/FreeThemAll. ^
  2. “About.” Defund Hate, February 11, 2021. https://defundhatenow.org/about/. ^
  3. Joffe, Alexander, and Asaf Romirowsky. “The Quakers, No Friends of Israel.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, November 6, 2015. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-quakers-no-friends-of-israel-1446768728. ^
  4. American Friends Service Committee. “Civil Society Groups Call on Biden to Provide Immediate Sanctions Relief and Legal Reform.” Common Dreams, March 26, 2021. https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2021/03/26/civil-society-groups-call-biden-provide-immediate-sanctions-relief-and-legal. ^
  5. “Annual Report 2019.” American Friends Service Committee. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf. ^
  6. “AFSC History.” American Friends Service Committee, April 25, 2016. https://www.afsc.org/afsc-history. ^
  7. “AFSC History.” American Friends Service Committee, April 25, 2016. https://www.afsc.org/afsc-history. ^
  8. “Nobel Peace Prize.” American Friends Service Committee, February 24, 2016. https://www.afsc.org/nobel-peace-prize. ^
  9. “AFSC History.” American Friends Service Committee, April 25, 2016. https://www.afsc.org/afsc-history. ^
  10. “Building Economic Justice.” American Friends Service Committee, March 28, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/key-issues/issue/building-economic-justice. ^
  11. Gerson, Joseph. “Our Federal Budget Should Fund Human Needs, Not War and Militarization.” American Friends Service Committee, March 15, 2019. https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/our-federal-budget-should-fund-human-needs-not-war-and-militarization. ^
  12. Alpert, Arnie. “Opinion: Faith Leaders Call Right-to-Work Proposal Immoral.” InDepthNH.org. Institute for Nonprofit News, March 29, 2021. http://indepthnh.org/2021/03/29/opinion-faith-leaders-call-right-to-work-proposal-immoral/. ^
  13. Gonyea, Don. “House Democrats Pass Bill That Would Protect Worker Organizing Efforts.” NPR, March 10, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/03/09/975259434/house-democrats-pass-bill-that-would-protect-worker-organizing-efforts. ^
  14. “Defund Hate.” American Friends Service Committee, July 7, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/defund-hate. ^
  15. “Defund Hate.” American Friends Service Committee, July 7, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/defund-hate. ^
  16. “About.” Defund Hate, February 11, 2021. https://defundhatenow.org/about/. ^
  17. “Temporary Protected Status (TPS).” American Friends Service Committee, October 14, 2019. https://www.afsc.org/tps. ^
  18. “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).” American Friends Service Committee, June 26, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/content/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca. ^
  19. “Join the Call to #FreeThemAll.” American Friends Service Committee, April 16, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/FreeThemAll. ^
  20. Rivera, Salvador. “Biden’s Order Ending Deals with Private Prisons Not Tough Enough, Migrant Advocate Says.” KLBK . KAMC, February 8, 2021. https://www.everythinglubbock.com/border-report/bidens-order-ending-deals-with-private-prisons-not-tough-enough-migrant-advocate-says/. ^
  21. Mercado, Melody. “’Immigrants Are Welcome Here:’ Demonstrators Call on Iowa to End ICE Detentions, Repeal Law Targeting ‘Sanctuary Cities’.” Des Moines Register, September 23, 2020. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2020/09/23/des-moines-protest-iowa-end-ice-detentions-repeal-law-targeting-sanctuary-cities-immigration/3493731001/. ^
  22. Handy, Shannon. “President Biden Introduces Bill to Create Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants.” cbs8.com. KFMB-TV, January 22, 2021. https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/politics/biden-immigration-reform/509-5105142d-8a17-43d3-b426-4f20405fb942. ^
  23. Allyn, Richard. “Outrage over Biden Administration’s Apparent about-Face on Refugee Caps.” cbs8.com. KFMB-TV, April 17, 2021. https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/investigations/beyond-the-border/biden-administration-refugee-caps/509-5c32b874-cd1c-410c-8f0d-79f55b8574d6. ^
  24. Handy, Shannon. “President Biden Introduces Bill to Create Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants.” cbs8.com. KFMB-TV, January 22, 2021. https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/politics/biden-immigration-reform/509-5105142d-8a17-43d3-b426-4f20405fb942. ^
  25. Peters, Adele. “Find out If Your 401(k) Is Paying for the Prison-Industrial Complex.” Fast Company. Mansueto Ventures, August 12, 2020. https://www.fastcompany.com/90539042/find-out-if-your-401k-is-paying-for-the-prison-industrial-complex. ^
  26. “Join the Call to #FreeThemAll.” American Friends Service Committee, April 16, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/FreeThemAll. ^
  27. Zerkel, Mary. “6 Reasons Why It’s Time to Defund the Police.” American Friends Service Committee, October 15, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/6-reasons-why-its-time-to-defund-police. ^
  28. Zerkel, Mary. “6 Reasons Why It’s Time to Defund the Police.” American Friends Service Committee, October 15, 2020. https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/6-reasons-why-its-time-to-defund-police. ^
  29. “Movement for Black Lives.” American Friends Service Committee, July 28, 2017. https://www.afsc.org/key-issues/issue/movement-black-lives. ^
  30. Sahouri, Andrea May. “BLM Organizer Matthew Bruce Arrested for Fifth Time on Charges Stemming from Protests.” Des Moines Register, September 25, 2020. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2020/09/24/matthew-bruce-des-moines-blm-arrested-fifth-time-police-dmpd-protests-black-liberation-movement/3504436001/. ^
  31. “A Local Resolution to End the Transfer of Military Equipment to Police.” National Priorities Project. Institute for Policy Studies. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.nationalpriorities.org/analysis/2020/local-resolution-end-transfer-military-equipment-police/. ^
  32. Coleman, Ken. “Prisoners Should Be a Priority for COVID Vaccinations, Advocates Say  ⋆ Michigan Advance.” Michigan Advance, February 17, 2021. https://www.michiganadvance.com/2021/02/17/prisoners-should-be-a-priority-for-covid-vaccinations-advocates-say/. ^
  33. “What You Should Know about AFSC’s Support for the BDS Movement.” American Friends Service Committee, March 26, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/what-you-should-know-about-afscs-support-bds-movement. ^
  34. Joffe, Alexander, and Asaf Romirowsky. “The Quakers, No Friends of Israel.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, November 6, 2015. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-quakers-no-friends-of-israel-1446768728. ^
  35. Joffe, Alexander, and Asaf Romirowsky. “How the Quakers Became Champions of BDS.” Tablet Magazine. Tablet Magazine, November 10, 2017. https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/how-the-quakers-became-champions-of-bds. ^
  36. Joffe, Alexander, and Asaf Romirowsky. “How the Quakers Became Champions of BDS.” Tablet Magazine. Tablet Magazine, November 10, 2017. https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/how-the-quakers-became-champions-of-bds ^
  37. Schreirber, Sholom. “Philadelphia American Jewish History Center to Hold Anti-Israel BDS Event.” The Jewish Voice, April 15, 2021. https://thejewishvoice.com/2021/04/philadelphia-american-jewish-history-center-to-hold-anti-israel-bds-event/. ^
  38. Allen, Ellie. “SGA Faces Backlash for Boycott and Safe Protesting Event.” The Butler Collegian, October 14, 2020. https://thebutlercollegian.com/2020/10/sga-faces-backlash-for-boycott-and-safe-protesting-event/. ^
  39. “Temple University’s Jewish Center to Host Online Event about Israeli ‘Occupation’.” Cleveland Jewish News. Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, April 16, 2021. https://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/jns/temple-university-s-jewish-center-to-host-online-event-about-israeli-occupation/article_9eb03ce9-59c8-5d3c-bac4-a50eaa037eab.html. ^
  40. Jacobs, Emily. “AOC Letter Addressing Israel’s Annexation of West Bank Has BDS Support.” New York Post. New York Post, July 1, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/07/01/aoc-letter-on-israels-west-bank-annexation-has-bds-support/. ^
  41. Kerstein, Benjamin. “Pro-Israel Groups Slam Bill Putting Conditions on Aid to Israel Co-Sponsored by Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez.” Algemeiner.com. The Algemeiner, April 15, 2021. https://www.algemeiner.com/2021/04/15/aipac-slams-bill-putting-conditions-on-aid-to-israel-to-be-introduced-by-minnesota-democrat/. ^
  42. “What You Should Know about AFSC’s Support for the BDS Movement.” American Friends Service Committee, March 26, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/what-you-should-know-about-afscs-support-bds-movement. ^
  43. American Friends Service Committee. “Civil Society Groups Call on Biden to Provide Immediate Sanctions Relief and Legal Reform.” Common Dreams, March 26, 2021. https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2021/03/26/civil-society-groups-call-biden-provide-immediate-sanctions-relief-and-legal. ^
  44. Joffe, Alexander, and Asaf Romirowsky. “The Quakers, No Friends of Israel.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, November 6, 2015. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-quakers-no-friends-of-israel-1446768728. ^
  45. “Annual Report 2019.” American Friends Service Committee. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf. ^
  46. “Annual Report 2019.” American Friends Service Committee. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf. ^
  47. “American Friends Service Committee.” Rockefeller Brothers Fund, December 2, 2019. https://www.rbf.org/grantees/american-friends-service-committee. ^
  48. “Annual Report 2019.” American Friends Service Committee. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf. ^
  49. “Annual Report 2019.” American Friends Service Committee. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf. ^
  50. “Annual Report 2019.” American Friends Service Committee. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf. ^
  51. “AFSC Board of Directors.” American Friends Service Committee, February 9, 2021. https://www.afsc.org/afsc-board-directors. ^
  52. Ajlouny, Joyce. “Biden Could Chart a New Path for US on Palestinian Rights. Will He?” Truthout. Truthout, April 4, 2021. https://truthout.org/articles/biden-could-chart-a-new-path-for-us-on-palestinian-rights-will-he/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Kamau Franklin
    Regional Director
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 1950

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    American Friends Service Committee

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