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Top Pro-Palestinian Lobbyist Ousted

The executive director of America’s leading pro-Palestinian advocacy group was ousted recently, following allegations of financial misconduct.

Rafi Dajani, who was the American Task Force on Palestine’s second-ranking official and one of the country’s most visible speakers on Palestinian affairs, was fired in late January due to an “apparent breach of his fiduciary responsibilities,” according to a statement issued by the group February 29.

Sources outside the organization said Dajani was allegedly responsible for tens of thousands of dollars that had gone missing from the group’s funds.

The official statement puts to an end rumors that were circulating in the pro-Palestinian community ever since the surprise January 17 announcement that, effective immediately, “Rafi Dajani is not employed by the American Task Force on Palestine or associated with the organization in any way.”

The group moved quickly to dissociate itself from Dajani. Photos in which he was featured, quotes from interviews he had given and video clips from public events in which he participated were all promptly taken off the organization’s Web site.

Dajani did not respond to Forward requests for comment.

According to the American Task Force on Palestine’s February 29 statement, the “serious problems” were discovered during an internal investigation.

“Upon discovering the relevant facts, ATFP’s leadership immediately dismissed Mr. Dajani from his position, moved to secure the evidence and turned all its information on the matter over to law enforcement authorities” the group said in the statement. The group’s leaders declined to comment on the details of the case.

The American Task Force on Palestine, headed by Ziad Asali, was established in 2004 and quickly became a leading advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The group is considered to have strong ties to the White House and Congress; two years Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the guest speaker at the group’s gala dinner. Its staff includes five full-time employees, as well as several interns. The operational funds of the group come from donations, mainly from board members.

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