Koum is believed to have given $140 million to approximately 70 pro-Israel groups in the United States between 2019 and 2020.
The founder of WhatsApp Jan Koum donated a record $2 million payment to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) Democratic primary campaign last month.
The Ukrainian-born Jewish innovator and multibillionaire has more than doubled his contributions to the contentious pro-Israel lobby, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Critics say that AIPAC poses a “existential threat” to the US Democratic Party following a surge in funds that secured victories for pro-Israel candidates.
Koum, whose net worth is estimated to be between $9.8 and $13.7 billion. He is believed to have given $140 million to approximately 70 pro-Israel groups in the United States between 2019 and 2020.
One of his more contentious donations was reportedly $6 million to Friends of Ir David, the US fundraising arm of Elad, a right-wing NGO focused on relocating Jews in Arab neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem.
Elad has been described as Israel’s weapon for grabbing Palestinian land, including private land owned by Palestinians who fled during the first and second Nakba in 1948 or 1967. The pro-settlement Israeli organisation was founded in 1986 and has mostly operated in the occupied Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem, south of the Old City and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He also gave $600,000 to the Maccabee Task Force Foundation, which purports to combat anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses.
AIPAC and its allies spent nearly $7 million on last tuesday’s election in Maryland, more than any other political action group (PAC), to oppose Donna Edwards, the state’s first Black woman elected to Congress.
Her defeat is the latest in a string of defeats for liberal democrats who have been targeted by the pro-Israel lobby.
During her previous tenure in Congress, Edwards enraged certain pro-Israel groups by refusing to support Israeli attacks on Gaza and by supporting the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran despite heavy opposition from the Israeli government.
Israeli settlements are deemed to be illegal under international law. Rights group have continued to apply pressure on Israeli authorities to halt its expansion of settlements, though those calls have not been heeded.
During the last high-profile meeting in Saudi Arabia, attended by leaders of the GCC+3—Jordan, Iraq and Egypt—as well as US President Joe Biden, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani slammed Israel’s “politics of force.”
“The most major source of tension and instability will linger unless Israel stop its practices and violations of international law reflected in building settlements, changing Jerusalem’s character and continuing to impose siege on Gaza,” the amir told the Jeddah Security and Development Summit.
The amir, echoing similar comments expressed by other leaders, emphasised the importance of addressing the continued unlawful Israeli occupation of Palestine, describing it as a “just cause” that carries “symbolic weight” for both the Arab and Muslim worlds.