| Lynda and Stewart Resnick | MR Online Lynda and Stewart Resnick

California pistachio billionaires funding Israel’s occupation regime

Originally published: Weaponized Immigrant on February 19, 2024 by Yasha Levine (more by Weaponized Immigrant) (Posted Feb 21, 2024)

I was looking through my notes the other day to do some last minute fact-checking Pistachio Wars, when I was reminded of something: Lynda and Stewart Resnick–the Beverly Hills billionaire climate criminals ravaging California so they can build wealth and power off their pistachio and almond monopoly–are big fans of the occupation. They’ve been funneling millions to various charities connected with Israel’s occupation apparatus, including specifically the Israeli Defense Forces.

Based on tax records from their foundation, they’ve given anywhere from $500,000 to $200,000 to the Israeli military every year, with most of it funneled through an outfit called the American Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.1 Adding it all up comes to millions of dollars–$2.4 million just between 2015 and 2022.

But this support for the military doesn’t include the many more millions the Resnicks have given to “education” focused outfits–ones that are closely tied to Israel’s military and occupation establishment, nor does it include their involvement with an influential neoconservative thinktank spun off from AIPAC, the biggest Israel lobby in the United States.2 If support for these other more soft power occupation initiatives is tallied, the Resnick family’s backing of Israel’s increasingly genocidal regime adds up to the many millions, although the exact number is impossible to pin down.

| FIDF | MR Online

I’m sure their support for Israel, like with most American Jews, is tied to their personal political beliefs in the necessity of a Jewish Nation, a nation controlled and run for and by Jews. But for the Resnicks there is a deeper level to this support. As Rowan and I explore in our documentary and as I’ve written before in my reporting, the Resnick’s pistachio monopoly has a very specific geopolitical dimension: It’s based off of U.S. meddling in the Middle East. Specifically it’s based off of America’s overthrow of democracy in Iran and the backing of the Shah–meddling that spectacularly blewback in the form of Iran taking 52 American hostages from the U.S. Embassy in 1979. The result of this blowback was more aggression against Iran: the imposition of crippling sanctions. It is these sanctions that for the first time in history began to cut Iran’s pistachio industry off from global trade and allowed the Resnicks to get into the pistachio business in California.

Except for a brief partial respite under Barak Obama’s presidency, economic sanctions against Iran have been renewed and intensified under every single president after Carter, making Iran one of the most sanctioned countries on the planet and allowing Resnicks to create an American pistachio industry from scratch–an industry that went from producing nothing to double what Iran does.

Despite all these sanctions, Iran has still been a major competitor to the Resnicks and the American pistachio industry that they pioneered. So constantly fighting Iran for international marketshare–whether in Europe, China, South Korea, Russia, India–has been a prime objective of the Resnicks. They have waged this fight by backing politicians and lobbies that take hardline positions on Iran–whether it’s through supporting sanctions, increasing foreign tariffs on, or arguing for attacks and straight up war.

How does the Israel fit in? The ongoing beef the U.S. foreign policy consensus has with Iran has lasted for almost half a century. And at this point it is basically indistinguishable from the Israel Lobby and the interests of the Israeli state. The people and organizations who back hardline anti-Iran policies in the U.S. are the same ones that totally support Israel’s ongoing military occupation. One example is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank that created as an under-the-radar extension the powerful and widely derided Israel lobby group AIPAC, and where Stewart and Lynda have been on the board of trustees on and off for years.

So in terms of Israel, for the Resnicks, the business and the personal seem synergistic, mutually supportive. Backing the aggressive Israel Lobby helps them hobble Iran, their main business competitor. It also seems to fit their nationalistic attachment to the Jewish State. I guess you can say they’ve achieved a perfect life-work balance–causing massive extinction on one continent, backing a genocidal regime on another.

—Yasha Levine


  1. In 2022, they split $200,000 between Israel’s Navy Seals and the IDF.
    In 2021 they split $228,000 between Israel’s Navy Seals and the IDF.
    In 2020, $328,000 went to the IDF.
    In 2019, $500,000 went to the IDF.
    In 2018, $350,000 went to the IDF.
    In 2017, $350,000 went to the IDF.
    In 2016, $350,000 went to the IDF.
    In 2015, $100,00 went to the IDF.
  2. The Resnick Foundation has funneled millions–anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 a year–to American Friends of IDC, a not-for-profit foundation that serves as the fundraising arm of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, an influential think-tank with close links to the Israeli intelligence and military establishment. Herzliya conferences have been attended by powerful political players from both U.S. and Israel: William Kristol, Mitt Romney, Wesley Clark, Ariel Sharon, Moshe Katsav, Richard Perle, James Woolsey. Stewart hasn’t just given money to the American Friends of the IDC, he had served as a board member of the organization along with the now-deceased Sheldon Adelson, perhaps the biggest single American backer of Israel’s occupation.
    On top of that Lynda and Stewart Resnicks have been trustees and on the board of directors of the the highly influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank that was spun off from AIPAC to function as an under-the-radar extension this the powerful and widely derided Israel lobby group, and has been nothing but an unflinching backer of Israel’s occupation. It is also been ridiculously hawkish on Iran, calling for heavy sanctions and military strikes against the country. In 2005, the Resnick Foundation gave $20,000 to the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy. Unfortunately, the real amount of money the Resnicks have given to the institute is hard to gauge, as any funds that did not go through their personal foundation would not have to be reported on any of their IRS documents.
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