Biden Sends $100k to Palestine for Female “Running and Wellness” Grant 

Anas-Mohammed /
Anas-Mohammed /

Americans could be forgiven for assuming that surviving the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict is a priority for those living in the chaotic, war-torn countries, but the Biden administration disagrees. 

In late September, the U.S. Department of State allocated a $100,000 grant for a two-year initiative to Free to Run, a Connecticut-based nonprofit. This organization aims to enhance opportunities overseas for women and girls to “participate in public life” through sports. The specific objective of the grant is to “bolster the resilience” of Palestinian girls and young women through running. 

Of course, the grant was issued a few weeks before Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel. Still, the fact that the government is sending money overseas for such inane purposes is concerning regardless of the timing. 

Free to Run, founded in 2014, claims that part of its mission is to provide “weekly indoor strength and mindfulness training sessions” to women living in oppressed countries. The organization’s broader mission involves promoting gender equality and supporting women and girls in areas affected by conflict and oppression. 

Free to Run operates in countries like Afghanistan, where sessions are conducted secretly to mitigate the risk of Taliban discovery. According to tax forms filed by the nonprofit, its total expenses in 2022 amounted to $345,000, while its revenue was $449,000. The organization reported holding $406,000 in assets. 

The $100,000 grant, routed through the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, is one example of substantial American funds being allocated annually for Palestinian initiatives, particularly in the West Bank. This practice has faced criticism from congressional Republicans, who express concerns about U.S. tax dollars supporting projects in Gaza and the West Bank, especially following the Oct. 7 Hamas-led terrorist attacks against Israel. Lawmakers worry that aid might potentially end up in the hands of terrorists. 

Free to Run highlights on its website that sports opportunities are severely constrained or absent in its operating areas, primarily due to resource scarcity and insecurity. The organization emphasizes that these limitations are more pronounced for women and girls in conflict zones. Free to Run concentrates on outdoor sports to bridge this gap, encouraging girls to venture outside and reclaim public spaces. By doing so, they claim to challenge societal perceptions regarding the roles women and girls can and should assume. The organization creates opportunities for participants to experience the outdoors, taking them beyond their usual environments. 

Stephanie Case, the founder and president of Free to Run, is also the chief of the refugee protection division for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian aid.  

UNRWA has faced scrutiny from lawmakers and national security experts over the years due to its ties with Hamas and its history of hiring teachers who openly celebrate terrorism against Jews. In 2021, President Joe Biden resumed aid to UNRWA after the Trump administration had halted cash transfers over concerns about terrorism ties and antisemitism within the agency. Case recently shared a social media post in November from a top U.N. official criticizing Israel’s decision to raid Al Shifa Hospital, the Gaza-based facility located above tunnels used by Hamas for storing weapons. 

This grant is not Free to Run’s first time receiving support from federal funds. In September of 2022, the State Department committed $50,400 to the organization to “advance leadership skills” through adventure sports, primarily running, for 100 displaced young women in Iraq. In April 2019, the State Department granted $77,300 to Free to Run to “empower and educate” 100 young in two regions. 

Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of the federal spending watchdog group Open the Books, has raised concerns over “frivolous and stupid spending” by the government, especially when it is taxpayer money and borrowed against the out-of-control national debt.  

Representative Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) agrees, expressing concerns about sending funds overseas when the focus should be on eliminating the funding shortages in schools serving disadvantaged American students.  

It’s hard to fathom how Free to Run spent nearly $128 thousand to show 200 overseas women how to run or why it needs an additional $100 thousand budget over the next two years to show Palestinian women how to go outside. But if it is wasteful, the Biden administration will throw money it doesn’t have at it, no matter how the wasted money could have benefitted American citizens. 

As Americans are wallowing in Biden debt, they can rest easily knowing that hard-earned tax dollars paid for Palestinian girls to stand in public spaces.