(JTA) — The anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders reportedly received funding from a pro-Israel think tank and the founder of a network of conservative groups in the United States.
Daniel Pipes, director of The Middle East Forum, said his Philadelphia-based think tank funded Wilders’ legal defense in 2010 and 2011 against Dutch charges of inciting racial hatred, according to Reuters.
The group on its website lists as its goals protecting the "freedom of public speech of anti-Islamist authors, promoting American interests in the Middle East and protecting the constitutional order from Middle Eastern threats." It sent money directly to Wilders’ lawyer via its Legal Project, Pipes said.
Represented by Dutch criminal lawyer Bram Moscowitz, Wilders was acquitted of the charges in 2010. The charges were brought against the founder of the rightist Party for Freedom after he compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s manifesto "Mein Kampf."
Pipes declined to say how much his group paid for Wilders’ defense.
Reuters also reported that David Horowitz, who runs a network of Los Angeles-based conservative groups and a website called FrontPage magazine, said he paid Wilders unspecified fees for making two speeches, security costs during student protests and overnight accommodation for his Dutch bodyguards during a 2009 U.S. trip.
Last month, a former ally of Geert Wilders told JTA that he had urged pro-Israel groups in the United States to withdraw their support from Wilders because of his party’s support for a ban on kosher slaughter.