‘Comment is Free’ contributor claims International Solidarity Movement is “non-violent”.

Radical Chic: ISM members pose with Palestinian terrorists

For much of the Guardian-style far-left media, commentaries – and indeed often straight news reports – serve largely to buttress preconceived ideologically determined conclusions, and often have only a tangential relationship with facts or journalistic context.  

In such a propagandistic paradigm, there is no objective truth as such, only a greater ‘narrative truth’. 

Ami Kaufman’s Aug. 29 ‘Comment is Free’ piece, “For many Israelis, Rachel Corrie was a nuisance“, represents an exquisite example of this phenomenon.

The polemical objective which the +972 founder wanted to achieve was quite predictable: contextualizing Corrie’s death, in 2003, as part of a larger pattern of Israeli intolerance towards political dissent.

Thus, the strap line:

“Since Rachel Corrie’s death, the Israeli establishment has been losing patience with activists of any kind”

In the essay, Kaufman writes:

“The Israeli establishment has less and less patience for activists of any kind of late. As part of the recent government offensive on human rights in Israel, freedom of expression has been hit hard.”

Kaufman, like Chris McGreal and the author(s) of the official Guardian editorial on Corrie’s death, doesn’t even attempt to rationally refute the Israeli court’s decision, question the judge’s reasoning or dispute the evidence or testimony presented at trial.

No, for Kaufman, Israel’s guilt was a foregone conclusion – and the judge’s decision thus represented a “slippery slope” towards the abrogation of civil rights in Israel.

But, Kaufman’s polemic becomes especially risible in his assertion about International Solidarity Movement.

“Corrie, bulldozed to death by a massive D9 Caterpillar on 16 March 2003, was part of an activist group called ISM – International Solidarity Movement. This is a group of international activists who advocate nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank (and Gaza back then, before the disengagement in 2005) in solidarity with Palestinians opposing the occupation.

A nonviolent movement, you say?

Well, isn’t that what Israelis were always looking for? For their enemies to abandon terror, suicide bombings and rockets and to go down the route of Gandhi?” [Emphasis added]

Of course, the suggestion that ISM is non-violent is beyond parody.

The ISM’s website states that it recognizes “the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle.” [emphasis added]

As I wrote previously, ISM’s activities have included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces”, and “provid[ing] Palestinian terrorist operatives…with financial, logistic and moral support”.

Paul Larudee, the Northern California head of the ISM, has said that his group “…recognize[s] that violence is necessary and it is permissible for oppressed and occupied people to use armed resistance and we recognize their right to do so.”

Similarly, in a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent,” adding that “[i]n actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured.”

ISM activist Susan Barclay admitted that she worked with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists originating from UK who had attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, in 2003, murdering three people.  The Mike’s Place bombers had, according to an Israeli report, ”forg[ed] links with…members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)”.  

Also, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.

Just because individual ISM members may not personally fire the weapons which kill and maim Israelis, an organization which aids and abets the Islamist terror groups, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that intentionally murder innocent Jews is – by definition – a reactionary, anti-peace, pro-violence movement.

No amount of sophistry or doublespeak can obfuscate this painfully obvious fact.

Put International Solidarity Movement on Trial for Rachel Corrie’s Death

This essay was originally published at The Jewish Press

 

International Solidarity Movement’s activists in Ni’lin, Feb. 5, 2012.

Today, an Israeli court rejected a lawsuit filed by the family of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American who was killed by a military bulldozer nine years ago, ruling that the death was an accident for which Corrie was responsible and, further, that there was no proof the soldiers acted with intent to harm or criminal neglect.

In reports on the trial over the past few days, the media mostly ignored the role played by International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the young woman’s tragic death.

For instance, in three reports by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent about the trial, Harriet Sherwood, (herehere, and here), all Sherwood wrote about ISM were that they were pro-Palestinian activists involved in “direct action”, and that they were “accused by [the IDF] of illegal, irresponsible and dangerous” behaviour.

Sherwood, like much of the media, didn’t think it was relevant to provide her readers with even a short description of ISM’s reckless and extremely dangerous behavior – dangerous for both Israelis involved in anti-terror operations, as well as for the ISM volunteers, like Corrie, cynically exploited for “the cause”.

ISM was founded in 2001 by a group of young, extremist left Americans. According to the Terrorism Information Center, between 2001 and 2005, the years of the second intifada, ISM volunteers engaged in activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and “did not merely help the Palestinian population, but intentionally hindered IDF anti-terror activities.”

Their activities included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces”, and “provid[ing] Palestinian terrorist operatives…with financial, logistic and moral support, hindering the razing and sealing of houses of suicide bombers.”

Since the end of the Intifada ISM activists were among the founders of the pro-Hamas umbrella ‘Free Gaza Movement’, and consistently send volunteers to protest demonstrations at focal points of Palestinian-Israeli friction, such as in Bil’in.

While ISM describes itself as “committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles”, Paul Larudee, the Northern California head of the ISM, has said that “We recognize that violence is necessary and it is permissible for oppressed and occupied people to use armed resistance and we recognize their right to do so.”

Similarly, in a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent,” adding that “[i]n actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured.”

Shapiro and Arraf lauded such deaths as “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.”

ISM activists and organizers have time and again justified terrorism and associated with terrorists.

In 2003 alone, for example, ISM activist Susan Barclay admitted in an interview that she worked with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jidhad; terrorists originating from UK who had attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people, had, according to an Israeli report, ”forg[ed] links with foreign left-wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)”; and senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.

(See NGO Monitor’s page documenting ISM’s terrorism associations).

IT SHOULD NOT be surprising that the 2003 incident involving Corrie took place in the “Military Installations Area,” along the Egyptian border, at the Philadelphi Route, which was considered a hostile battlefield because of the large number of attacks carried out by terrorists.

Between 2000 and March 2003, the area was also notorious for being the primary smuggling route for terrorists bringing weaponry into Gaza and the West Bank from Egypt. Terrorist activities during this period included thousands of grenade attacks, 184 anti-tank missile attacks, 147 road-side explosives, and 41 mortar attacks.

Indeed, the IDF mission on the day in question, which ISM was trying to impede, was merely an effort to level terrain and clear debris near the border in order to remove cover for future terrorist attacks.

Several ISM protestors entered the closed military zone to intentionally interfere in this routine mission. The IDF attempted to remove them with shock grenades, tear gas and warning shots, but they refused to leave the site.

The dangerous conduct of ISM activists—who ignored IDF warnings, refused to leave the area, and purposely put themselves in harm’s way— were the main factors leading to the tragic result.

Corrie’s ISM colleague and handler, Joseph Smith eulogized Corrie, chillingly justifying the sacrifice of human life for the cause, stating:

“The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.”

Smith’s words and ISM’s activities make it clear that ISM callously views such “sacrifices” as “progressive” acts of resistance which are worth the human cost. It is shameful that ISM will never face serious critical scrutiny for their recklessness, despite of their well-documented record of terror-abetting extremism, which ultimately took the life of Rachel Corrie.

Global March to Jerusalem post event round-up: #GMJ #EpicFailure

Written by Hadar Sela, lead researcher for the CiF Watch project, “Exposing the truth about the Global March to Jerusalem“.

Taking a post-event look at the Global March to Jerusalem, it is as important to identify what did not happen as it is to look at what did occur.

The most obvious conclusion is that the GMJ organisers failed to get the numbers of participants they declared having in advance, with only single percentage numbers of their vaunted one to two million marchers actually taking part. Despite GMJ organiser Ribhi Halloum’s feeble attempts at face-saving post-event spin, any objective observer can only conclude that the project’s organisers are clearly out of touch with majority concerns and opinion.

This was also reflected in the picture around the world with, for example, a mere 50 activists turning up for the GMJ event in Germany and 100 in Ottawa.  Even in London – a major hub of anti-Israel activism and home to a significant proportion of GMJ organisers and their various organisations – the turnout to shout at an empty Israeli embassy was not particularly impressive.

Significantly too, in Deir Hanna – the site of the main Land Day march in Israel – and other locations in the Galilee, participation in the event was low, with organisers already expressing their disappointment on Israeli radio by early Friday afternoon.

With the majority of the world’s mainstream media giving the event very low profile handling, it is also clear that the organisers failed to achieve another of their main objectives: the creation of an embarrassing PR event for Israel which would result in condemnatory headlines around the globe and create an opportunity for another Goldstone-style attack on Israel’s legitimacy.

That objective was in part thwarted by the actions taken by the authorities in the countries bordering Israel to contain the event to demonstrations and avoid the potentially fatal clashes which would have resulted had they allowed the would-be infiltrators to have their way.

In Syria the only GMJ event took place in Damascus, with the Iranian regime’s Press TV reporting that ” the Syrian government prevented them from reaching the nearest point to the Palestinian land, as a result of the accident that happened last year on Nakba Day where Israeli soldiers killed around 26 demonstrators who tried to cross the borders in the action called “Yawm al Awda”.

One must also factor in to that decision the rifts which appeared early on among GMJ organisers of a pro-Iranian/Syrian regime persuasion and those loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood which is heavily represented among the Syrian opposition, as the proliferation of Hizballah flags and Assad portraits at the Damascus event reflects.  

Participation in the GMJ event in Lebanon, which was confined to the Beaufort castle, was reportedly low due to the fact that the Lebanese army declined to allow participants to approach the border. Some foreign activists expressed a clear – but typical – lack of understanding of the regional dynamics at play.

Here’s a GMJ-North America supporter, #Occupy “human rights” activist, and Mondoweiss contributorDeppen Webber

 

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(Note that in fact, GMJ organisers – including Webber’s patron Paul Larudee – had been cooperating with Hizbollah since the early stages of preparation.)

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(Note that another – though no less unreliable – source would appear to contradict Webber’s claims.)

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Here’s Kunal Majumder, senior correspondent covering GMJ as a “reporter” for the Indian political weekly, Tehelka:

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The Global March to Jerusalem has undoubtedly helped shine the light of exposure on several important points, one of which is the unquestioning collaboration between so-called peace activists and human rights advocates from Western and other countries and extremist elements such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah, the Iranian regime and even the Syrian Nazi Party – SSNP – which was represented at the GMJ event in Lebanon.

In addition, it is clear that the professed GMJ slogan of non-violence is merely a tactic employed by this handful of extremists in order to gain sympathy and legitimacy for their cause among Western audiences. Just as there is nothing non-violent about intending to illegally breach a sovereign state’s borders and over-run its capital, there was nothing non-violent about Friday’s riots in BethlehemGaza and Kalandiya (lead, incidentally, by a professor from the Sorbonne and with approximately 8% of the rioters being foreign activists – probably members of the ISM).

Equally clear is the end-game agenda of the organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem and its supporters. Their common denominator is the rejection of a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, the rejection of recognition of Israel’s existence and the aspiration of achieving an imposed settlement which would bring that about. The ample rhetoric we have heard over the past few weeks on such subjects as ’64 years of occupation’ and ‘liberating Jerusalem’ is clear indication of their aims.

The Global March to Jerusalem project has clarified just how little understanding this bunch of professional and semi-professional activists have of the dynamics of the Middle East as indicated by their indignant objections to the fact that various authorities and security forces acted to prevent the escalation of their provocation into a potentially serious cross-border event.

Fortunately, it has also exposed just how out of touch its mostly foreign organisers are with the aims and priorities of people who actually live in the region and how outlandish the ideas of their relatively small – if loud – cult movement are to the majority of the people they seem to have somehow persuaded themselves that they represent. 

Related articles

CiF Watch Special Report: Extremists & terror supporters organizing ‘Global March to Jerusalem’

A guest post by Hadar Sela, an Anglo-Israeli freelance writer

Introduction:

As spring approaches, so the annual season for publicity stunts aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy begins once more. This year several high-profile events are planned and, building on the success of last year’s thwarting of the Freedom Flotilla 2′ by means of pre-emptive dissemination of information, this report (and those which will follow) aims to provide essential background about the aims and allegiances of the organisers  which will be useful to those engaged in combatting the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, particularly in the media and social networks.  

‘Global March to Jerusalem’:

The first large-scale event planned this year is a ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ scheduled for March 30th 2012 – Land Day. The concept behind it is to have a million people marching on Israel’s borders from all the surrounding countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The aims, according to the project’s official website, are as follows:

“The march will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people and to put an end to the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem.”

“The march will confirm that the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.”

“The march will unite the efforts of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all citizens of conscience in the world to put an end to Israel’s disregard for international law through the continuing occupation of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestinian land.

We aim to make this march a turning point in the nature of the confrontation, with the occupation having to face millions of protesters and demonstrators demanding Freedom for Palestine and its capitol (sic) Jerusalem.”

Obviously Israel, like any other sovereign country, cannot permit mass infiltration of its borders, especially by people who identify with terrorist organisations and enemy nations dedicated to its destruction. The results are therefore likely to be grave and perhaps similar to the consequences of attempted infiltrations of Israel’s northern borders in June 2011. The march’s organisers are undoubtedly very much aware of those facts.

They will also be aware that the current turmoil and uncertainty throughout the Middle East means that the ability of the Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian or Lebanese governments to intervene in order to prevent such a dangerous scenario is now considerably reduced. Some idea of the mindset of the event’s organisers can be gleaned from statements made in the following e-mail exchange between two of them regarding a previous identical project. (All errors in the original text)

As I have written out in the report, the liberation of Jerusalem, of Palestine are at the core of all that we have done & will do. The point is that how do we build a movement that compells the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon & Syria to let us in (which is easy) & then let us march across the borders into Palestine, challenging the Israeli army (which is difficult). Thus the idea is to keep the idea simple – We are going to pray at the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre & the Masjid-i-Aqsa & the Qubattus Sakhra. We will not apply for visas or permissions from the Israeli’s obviously not, for reasons known to us all. But imagine a situation where we have more than a million people streaming in from four borders & israel fails to stop the human tide. Once we have broken this mental barrier, then its all over. next time we will have 5 million who will be marching in & it will ony grow from there. This is exactly the nightmare situation for Israel. How do you handle a million ordinary non-violent people who want to go back Home? – how do you handle a million non-violent people who just wish to pray in their Masjid in Jerusalem, which is under our Occupation? Thius will undermine the Israeli state, like no other strategy & then it will all begin to unravel & the Zionist edifice which is unraveeling as we speak, will soon fall. It’s a matter of time now, as we well know.

Revealingly, the following statement appears in the FAQ section of the website of the American chapter of the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ-NA):

Q: Why is there a separate GMJ-NA organization? 

A: Because of the laws governing citizens of the U.S. and Canada, legal advisers in these countries have determined that it is better for them to operate separately and not to participate in the decision-making of the international movement, but rather as an autonomous coalition. This is because some of the groups in the international coalition are subject to legal reprisals in these countries, and there is some risk that any joint decision-making might place citizens of those countries in legal jeopardy. The risk may be small, but this is an extra measure of safety for those concerned.

In other words, the leaders of GMJ-NA are very much aware of the march’s links to proscribed terrorist groups, and yet its endorsers include a rather predictable list of organisations and US and other nationals, including a UN employee and a former British MP.

Ann Wright, former United States Army colonel

Clayborne Carson, Professor & Director, Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

David Hartsough, Co-founder of Nonviolent Peaceforce

Edward Peck, Retired US Ambassador and career US Diplomat

George Galloway, British Member of Parliament   

Dr. Ghada Karmi, Co-Director, Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter

Dr. Hatem Bazian, Senior Lecturer in Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Izzet Sahin, International Affairs Secretary, IHH

Joe Meadors, Veteran and Survivor of the 1967 Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty

Lauren Booth, English broadcaster, journalist and pro-Palestinian activist

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, American rabbi in the Jewish Renewal movement

Mairead Maguire, , Nobel Peace Laureate

Marcy Winograd, Los Angeles teacher, peace activist and former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives

Medea Benjiman, Anti-war organizer and activist

Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian democracy activist and former presidential candidate

Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University

Roger Leisner, Radio Free Maine

Ronnie Kasrils, South African ANC leader and cabinet minister

Samuel F. Hart, U.S. Ambassador, ret.

Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian-American author and Founder of Playgrounds for Palestine

Tariq Ali, British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator

GMJ International Advisory Committee:

Some of the GMJ endorsers also sit on its ‘International Advisory Committee’.

INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR THE GMJ
Maan Bashour (Lebanon), Dr. Ribhi Halloum (Jordan), Prof Paul Larudee (USA), George Galloway (UK), Khaled Soufiyani (Morocco), M K Sawalha (UK), Saud Abu Mahfouz (Jordan), Prof. Mohsen Saleh (Lebanon), Mazin Qumsiyeh (Palestine), Dr. Ghada Karmi (UK), Sheikhul Islam (Iran), Huseiyn Oruc (Turkey), Huwaida Arraf (Palestine-USA), Abdul Ghaffar Aziz (Pakistan), Sandeep Pandey (India),

Maan Bashour is the General Co-ordinator for the Muslim Brotherhood centre in Beirut, head of the preparatory committee for the ‘right of return forum’ and General Coordinator of the National Initiative Committee to Break the Blockade of Gaza (NICBBG). 

Maan Bashour

Dr Ribhi Halloum joined the PLO in 1966 and was its regional underground organizer in the UAE until 1971. He was a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and the PNC until resigning in 1993 over opposition to the Oslo Accords. He heads the Jordanian preparatory committee for the march and according to an interview he gave in December 2011 prior to the recent  GMJ conference in that country, “[t]he protest aims to move the right of return possessed by Palestinian refugees from theory to practice”

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the ‘Free Gaza’ and ‘Free Palestine’ movements as well as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) with which he was active during the second Intifada. He took part in the 2008 and 2010 flotillas, was deported from Israel in 2006 for trying to enter the country under a false identity and allegedly volunteered as a ‘human shield’ for Hizballah during the second Lebanon war. He was also one of the organisers of last year’s ‘flytilla’. Here he is meeting Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2008 (from whom he also received an award the following year) – second from the left on the front row. 

George Galloway is of course a well-known figure on the anti-Israel activism scene, his activities ranging from ‘Viva Palestina’ in its various incarnations, to working with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition and being employed by the Iranian regime’s  Press TV. Galloway believes that “Hizbollah is not and has never been a terrorist organization” and that Israel is responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri. Here he is handing over cash to the Hamas Economy Minister at the culmination of one of his ‘Viva Palestina’ convoys. 

Galloway also promoted the Global March to Jerusalem on Press TV prior to the latter being closed down by the UK authorities.

Khaled Soufiyani is a former chair of the Arab National Congress and co-ordinator of the Moroccan organization the ‘National Action Group (sometimes ‘Task Force’) for Solidarity with Palestine and Iraq’. In 2010 he called on a Moroccan Jewish advisor to the king to leave the country as a result of the former’s suggestion that the Holocaust should be part of the curriculum in Moroccan universities. He is strongly opposed to any normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco, and in particular to the establishment of the Amazigh-Israel Friendship Association, and has made several attempts to use ‘lawfare’ against Israelis visiting the country. 

Khaled Soufiyani

Mohammed Kassem Sawalha is also a well-known figure on the British anti-Israel circuit and a former Hamas commander who, since his arrival in the UK in the 1990s, has been instrumental in the founding of a series of organisations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood including the Muslim Association of Britain and the British Muslim Initiative. Sawalha is involved in the organization of the various flotillas and convoys to Gaza through a variety of roles in organisations and charities linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and in collaboration with the Turkish IHH. Here he is at an IHH press conference last year (front row, far right):

Saud Abu Mahfouz is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party in Jordan, the Islamic Action Front. He was a participant in the 2010 flotilla, along with several other Muslim Brotherhood members from Jordan, the former leader of which is on record as having stated:

“We in the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan see Palestine as part of the Islamic and Arab land that must not be relinquished – on the contrary, defending it is a national and jurisprudential obligation… We see Hamas movement in Palestine as standing at the head of the project of the Arab and Islamic liberation for which the Muslim Brotherhood calls… The Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas and every Arab resistance movement in the region that works for liberation.” (memri.org report 4265)

Mohsen Saleh is a professor at the Lebanese University in Beirut who takes a consistently pro-Iranian line, opposes the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (accusing it of being a US-engineered attempt to destabilize Lebanon and weaken the ‘resistance’ against Israel) and defends Bashar Assad’s actions against the uprising in Syria.  

Mazin Qumsiyeh is a well-known Palestinian political activist. He heads the ISM-linked ‘Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People’ (which was involved in the organization of the 2011 ‘flytilla’), is a co-ordinator for the ‘Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements’ in Beit Sahour and was a co-founder of Al Awda (the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition) in the US. Qumseiyeh spoke at the 2010 Stuttgart conference which produced the Stuttgart Declaration – a call for opposition to a negotiated two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ghada Karmi of Exeter University in the UK is also a signatory of the Stuttgart Declaration. A member of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) and a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Karmi has called for “the end of a Jewish state in our region”.

Sheikhul Islam is an ambiguous title in that it can be given to any high-ranking Shiite religious leader, but obviously the man concerned holds some prominence within the Iranian regime. The listing may possibly refer to Hossein Sheikh-ul-Islam; Senior Advisor to the Parliament Speaker for International Affairs of Iran.  

Huseyin Oruc is a member of the board of trustees of the ‘Union of Good’ linked Turkish organization Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), its deputy chairman and heads its public relations department. He was a participant in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla and was involved in the planning of the failed 2011 flotilla.

Huseyin Oruc

Huweida Arraf is of course the American-born co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who also chairs the ‘Free Gaza’ movement which is behind the organization of the flotillas. She has taken part in several flotillas herself, including that of 2010.

Arraf is perhaps best remembered for her provision of support to Yasser Arafat in Ramallah during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 when the Israeli army sought to put an end to the campaign of suicide bombings in Israel orchestrated by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, and for her part in the ISM’s collaboration with the terrorists who took over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem the same year.  One of the more recent publicity stunts in which Arraf took part was the so-called Freedom Ride in November 2011 when she, together with Mazin Qumsiyeh and four others, attempted to enter Jerusalem without permits.

Abdul Ghaffar Aziz is a member of – and spokesman for – Jamaat e Islami – the Pakistani Islamist movement which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was founded by Abul Ala Maududi.

Sandeep Pandey heads the National Alliance (sometimes ‘Association’) of People’s Movements in India. He was one of the organisers of the Asia to Gaza Caravan, in which he took part and reported on extensively. The convoy included a variety of Islamist and human rights organisations and received considerable en-route support from Iran, including an official reception with Ahmedinijad.  Pandey is currently involved in promotion and organisation of the Asian chapter of the GMJ, describing it as an attempt to “counter the Judaisation of Jerusalem”.

GMJ International Executive Committee:

The ‘International Executive Committee’ for the Global March on Jerusalem also includes both familiar and lesser-known figures.

INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR THE GMJ
Feroze Mithiborwala (India), Nabil Hallak (Lebanon), Bashir Zmaili (Jordan), Izzet Sahin (Turkey), Zaher Birawi, Kevin Ovenden (UK), Ali Mallah (Canada), George Rishmawi (Palestine), Salim Ghafouri (Iran), Shaheen Kattiparambil (India), Ramy Zurayk (Lebanon), Mustapa Mansour (Malaysia), Roohulla Rezvi (Iran), Gauhar Iqbal (India), Irman Abdurahman (Indonesia)

Feroze Mithiborwala was a co-organiser of the 2010 Asia to Gaza Convoy and is a member of Awami Bharat – an Indian political group which describes itself as being involved in an “international struggle against imperialism, Zionism, and Brahmanism”. He is also a member of the Muslim Intellectual Forum of India and the South Asian Solidarity Initiative and is the ‘Free Gaza’ national coordinator in India. Unsurprisingly for someone who relies upon ‘Israel Shamir‘ for information, Mithiborwala seems to be rather fond of conspiracy theories: the Moscow subway terror attacks were, according to him, deliberately timed to deflect attention from the BDS movement and Osama Bin Laden died in 2001. He is also of the opinion that:

..the Arab Revolution presents new possibilities & the epic 94-year-old struggle of the Palestinian people, a proud & ancient nation, which has inspired the world for generations, will finally see a new awakening & with it, a new hope, a new Intifada, the Third Intifada!!

It is only the resistance on the ground, within Palestine, across the Palestine diaspora, across the Arab nations & then across the entire world, will we finally witness the rebirth of a nation.

Feroze Mithiborwala presenting Khalid Masha'al with a gift in Damascus whilst en route with the Asian convoy in 2010


Mithiborwala meeting Mahmoud al Zahar in Gaza, 2010


Mithiborwala and other GMJ organisers at a conference of the Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine in Karachi, 2-3 February 2012. Representatives from Palestinian organisations were also present.  

Nabil Hallak is an Irish-Lebanese citizen who took part in the 2010 flotilla and acted or acts as co-ordinator for the National Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza. Here he is being welcomed upon his return to Lebanon after his deportation from Israel in the wake of the flotilla. 

Nabil Hallak (top left, being carried)

Izzet Sahin is an employee of the IHH. He was deported from Israel in May 2010 after having been found working for that organization which has been banned in Israel since 2008 due to its ties to the Union of Good which channels funding to Hamas.

Izzet Sahin

Zaher Birawi is a well-known Hamas operative resident in the UK. He is connected to the Palestinian Return Centre which is banned by Israel, ‘Viva Palestina’, the Palestinian Forum of Britain and the ‘Union of Good’-linked charity ‘Education Aid for Palestinians’. Birawi’s connections will be further expanded upon in part two of this report.  Here he is (far left) in Gaza along with Kevin Ovenden and Mohammed Sawalha receiving an award from Ahmad Bahar of Hamas.

Kevin Ovenden (pictured above, second from the left) was Parliamentary aide to the former British MP George Galloway. He is a former trustee of Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ and very active in the organization and leadership of its various projects. He was aboard the Mavi Marmara in 2010 and has received repeated recognition for his services to Hamas. Here he is in Syria, addressing a welcoming party for one of the Viva Palestina convoys whilst standing under the flags of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party.

Ali Mallah is Vice-President of the Canadian Arab Federation which supports the removal of Hamas and Hizballah from the list of proscribed terrorist organisations and an academic boycott of Israel. He is also a leader of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and a member of the ‘Gaza Freedom March Liaison Committee’.

George Rishmawi could be either of two well-known Palestinian activists – cousins – both of whom have connections to the ISM and – like Mazin Qumseiyeh above – the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement (PCR).

Salim Ghafouri from Iran acted as spokesman for the Asia to Gaza convoy. According to him, the “war with the Zionists” is not only an “Islamic-Zionist war,” but the showdown between the “truth,” represented by “the freedom-loving people of the world,” and the “lie,” represented by Israel and its supporters. Ghafouri also appears to be involved in advancing Iranian interests in Kashmir and has represented the ‘Iranian House of Latin America’ on visits to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Shaheen Kattiparambil was another Indian participant in the Asia to Gaza Convoy, and together with Pandey and Mithiborwala, issued this statement on behalf of of the Indian chapter of GMJ following its meeting on January 23rd 2012. All three, along with the Student Islamic Organisation of India of which Kattiparambil is a member, are endorsers of the statement by the ‘India Lifeline to Gaza’ according to which:

The Palestinian people must have the freedom to exercise their right to self-determination including their right to establish on all the territories that Israel has occupied, an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital. The structure of Zionist apartheid, based on ethno-religious discrimination that Israel has established, must be dismantled and it must grant equal rights to all its citizens, including the “Right of Return” to the Palestinians refugees.

Rami Zurayk is a Lebanese agronomist at the American University of Beirut who has taken part in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ and is currently promoting this year’s events on Twitter, where his profile picture is of terrorist Leila Khaled, and on his blog.

Roohulla Rezvi from Iran is cited by Feroze Mithiborwala as having been instrumental (along with Salim Ghafouri) in securing Iranian support for the 2010 Asia to Gaza convoy.

Gauhar Iqbal is a functionary of the ‘Human Welfare Trust’ which is included in the social service wing of the Indian Jamat al Islami. He also took part in the Asai to Gaza Convoy and is pictured here first from the left.

Irman Abdurahman is also a graduate of the Asia to Gaza Convoy and is a member of the board of executives of the Indonesian Society for Palestine Freedom (aka the Voice of Palestine) which states on its website that “[n]ative inhabitants of historical Palestine are people that are expelled and dispossessed from their lands and houses by force. Since 100 years to date the ultra-nationalist Zionist movement with support of some colonial powers has been doing this brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” The Indonesian chapter of GMJ has a Facebook group featuring a book by Gilad Atzmon, a speech by Khamenei at the ‘Islamic Awakening and Youth’ conference and this graphic:

Part two of this report will focus on the European chapter of the Global March to Jerusalem.

Comment is Free, Sam Bahour, Adam Shapiro and the malice of anti-Israel “activists”

It appears that the latest flytilla‘ provocation has been granted the Guardian seal of approval. On July 5th CiF published an article by Sam Bahour  extolling its virtues and attempting to place it in the category of people standing up for their ‘rights’.  

It all sounds so innocent and pastoral according to Sam Bahour, but just as his own Guardian profile has been sanitised into something approaching the anaemic, carefully editing out his connections to and affiliations with a plethora of anti-Israel organisations, so the ‘flytilla’ has been given a similar cosmetic make-over in this piece. 

Every sovereign country has the prerogative to deny entry to whomsoever it sees fit: there is no automatic ‘human right’ to travel to a country of which one is not a citizen, as Israelis – perhaps more than many others – well know. The fact that the holder of a specific type of passport may not be required to apply in advance for a visa to the country to which he wishes to travel does not guarantee automatic right of entry; it just means that the application process is carried out upon arrival and an entry stamp, which doubles as a visa for a limited period of time, is given (or not) at passport control. In this respect, Israel’s border authorities behave no differently than any other nation, but apparently Sam Bahour believes that what is accepted common practice in all other nations of the world should not apply to Israel. Some might call that a case of double standards. 

Bahour’s unsubstantiated claim that Israel denies the Palestinians ‘the right to receive visitors’ is of course absurd. Were that the case, we would not for one thing see the endless stream of B list celebs and intellectuals, activists known as Internationals‘ and misguided Christian ‘peace-makers’ wandering around the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. One of the ‘flytilla’ organisers, Mick Napier, claims to have visited the Palestinian-controlled territories numerous times; clearly disproving Bahour’s empty claims.

It is also of course possible to reach the Palestinian controlled areas either via Egypt (in the case of the Gaza Strip) or by means of a flight to Amman and a road journey to any of the three border crossings.  Had the Palestinian Authority continued with the Oslo process rather than choosing to initiate the second Intifada, it would by now not only have had its own border crossing with Jordan, but the level of security necessary today would not have come about. There were days – not very long ago – when one could travel unhindered, but terrorism brought that to an end.  Sam Bahour obviously subscribes to the much touted belief that Palestinians should never be required to take responsibility for the outcomes of their actions and decisions.

But beyond the practical, the most ridiculous aspect of Bahour’s article is the attempt to paint those scheduled to arrive en masse at Ben Gurion airport this coming Friday as ‘visitors’ – as though they were coming to see his new sofa. They are nothing of the sort; this is a pre-coordinated political provocation hatched by a group of anti-Israel organisations and activists and aided and abetted by radical far-Left elements inside Israel.  One of the organising bodies is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which is notorious for advising its foreign activists to deceive airport security when trying to enter Israel. Here is some travel advice from their website:

“Visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinian people and/or to support Palestinian non-violent resistance therefore face a difficult situation. If they admit the goals of their visit to Israeli border staff, and admit any association with ISM, they will most likely be denied entry. If they state other reasons for their visit, they can also be accused of lying to Israeli authorities and denied entry for this reason.”

“Faced with this dilemma, some activists choose not to talk about their activist goals and instead explain other reasons for their visit, such as visiting the Holy Land, visiting an Israeli friend, tourism, etc. These activists generally articulate a clear plan for their visit, including places they will stay within Israel and the names, addresses and phone numbers of people they will be visiting (not mentioning visits to Palestinians).”

Here is the ISM co-founder and leader, Adam Shapiro, explaining exactly what the aim of the various ‘tactics’ employed by his organization is.

The ‘flytilla’ is indeed just another of the tactics in the arsenal of people such as Adam Shapiro, Mick Napier and Paul Larudee ; people who talk about “60 years of occupation”, people who openly admit to wanting to “undermine Israel” and spark conflict between “Israel and the rest of the world”.  As for those who have signed up for the campaign (donating their time and buying their own plane tickets), they have the responsibility to inform themselves of the objectives and affiliations of the organizers before they consent to becoming foot-soldiers for terrorist sympathizers and enablers. If they decide to go ahead regardless, they certainly should not feign surprise if they are turned back. No country on earth is required to respect the ‘rights’ of those collaborating with elements which seek its destruction.

But whilst we’re on the subject of rights, what about those of the other people – the real tourists and travellers – who will be flying to Tel Aviv on Friday from London, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt or Rome? Are they entitled to expect the airport authorities and the airline with which they fly not to expose them unnecessarily to the possibility of harassment or danger by taking on board passengers willingly acting as pawns for people with links to Hamas?

One suspects that the editor who commissioned this article from Bahour might be a little less forthcoming with the Guardian stamp of approval for the ‘flytilla’ if his own children happened to be aboard one of those planes.  Yet another example of the Guardian’s double standards on Israel.  

Next Hamas-supporting stunt by Western ‘activists’: the ‘Flytilla’

Well, if you thought the flotilla (or should that be ‘floptilla’?) was an unnecessary provocation, meet the ‘flytilla’.

This coming Friday, July 8th, hundreds of foreign activists are apparently planning a pre-coordinated touch down on commercial flights at Ben Gurion airport as part of a ‘Return from Exile’ or ‘Flight of Return’.

Some will be high-profile Western sympathisers and some will be citizens of countries from which there is no need for a visa to come to Israel and who have Palestinian origins.  They will supposedly be exercising their ‘right of return’ to Israel; in other words expressing their support for the dismantling of the Jewish state.

Once again, some familiar faces are behind this latest stunt. It was dreamed up by a co-founder of the ‘Free Gaza’ movement – one of the partners also behind the flotillas – Paul Larudee. Larudee – who also has a long history of involvement with the ISM and was deported from Israel in 2006 – now heads the California-based ‘Free Palestine’ movement which, despite his Hamas connections, is both UN accredited and a registered US ‘not for profit’ organisation with 501(c)(3) status.   

This is a letter  dating from 2007 on official Hamas notepaper inviting Larudee and the ‘Free Gaza’ movement to help breach the blockade on Gaza.

The year after that letter was sent, Larudee did indeed reach Gaza – and received an honorary Palestinian passport straight from the hands of Ismail Haniyeh for his pains. Here he is (second from the left), together with a few other familiar faces.  

The other major partner behind this ‘flytilla’ is Al Awda – the ‘Palestine Right to Return Coalition’ – which campaigns for the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian majority state and promotes BDS. ‘Electronic Intifada’ co-founder and writer Ali Abunimah is also involved with Al Awda , which has clear Hamas links and helped George Galloway raise over one million dollars for his Hamas-enabling ‘Viva Palestina’ convoys.  

 Other partners in the organisation of the project include the ISM and, according to an interview given by Paul Larudee to Hizbollah’s ‘Al Manar’ TV, the London-based ‘Palestinian Return Centre’, which is banned in Israel because of its Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood links. The ‘flytilla’ is also being promoted by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign which was recently the focus of attention due to its attempts to introduce BDS into Scottish local councils.

Apparently, Scottish participants will be joined by Belgian and other European activists, as well as others from North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

So, here we go again: yet another pointless, publicity-seeking, money-wasting stunt designed to try to embarrass Israel is being initiated by Hamas-supporting activists and executed by Western ‘useful idiots’ in an attempt to advance the ‘no negotiations, no two-state solution’ agenda of Hamas.

Of course, if it is anything like the second flotilla, this escapade too could yet prove to be more media-orientated hype than anything else, but it could also potentially cause unnecessary delays at Ben Gurion airport on Friday. Not that any of these ‘activists’ would of course care in the least about deliberately causing inconvenience to other travellers rushing home for the weekend  or legitimate tourists just trying to enjoy a well-earned holiday, because, as we already know, it’s all about them and their own personal smug self-gratification.