Israel Apartheid Week, that just ended across the United States but continues with boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns across Europe, is widely misunderstood.
Many accept BDS as grass-roots pressure on Israel to complete the peace process and accede to a Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967 lines, with its capital in east Jerusalem. This is a fundamental misrepresentation. Much BDS and pro-Palestinian NGO activity in Europe and the United States is connected to radical Islamic groups and Palestinian terror organizations such as Hamas.
Hamas and its parent Muslim Brotherhood organization fuel and direct international BDS and anti-Israel political activities on hundreds of university campuses across the United States via the Muslim Students Association.
Many of the MSA’s 600 chapters in North America have been branded “extensions of the Muslim Brotherhood,” as the MB itself stated in its operational plan, captured in the FBI’s raid on the Holy Land foundation – a Hamas charity, in 2001.
During Israel Apartheid Week, pro-Palestinian BDS groups were heard (and documented on You- Tube) chanting on US campuses, “from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” Scores of other Pro-Palestinian BDS groups that are active in Israel Apartheid Week, such as American Muslims for Palestine and Students for Justice in Palestine, have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Hamas. The Investigative Project revealed material support the American Muslims for Palestine provided to Hamas.
Hamas’s Gaza leadership has also endorsed international BDS activities against Israel. According to the Middle East Monitor, Hamas issued a statement on February 14, 2014, saying, “We in Hamas appreciate and welcome these economic boycotts against the Zionist occupation and we consider it a step in the right direction toward pressuring the occupation to stop its settlement activities and its Judaization of the Palestinian land.”
Hamas further stated “that the European position expands to become a public policy against the ongoing Zionist war which targets the Palestinian people’s land, heritage and identity.”
Hamas’ role in BDS activities in London may be even less ambiguous.
Non-government organizations such as the British Muslim Initiative, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (an umbrella group for pro-Palestinian groups and Stop the War Coalition, and action Palestine have twinned British and Gaza universities and stage university “occupations” of university offices until their BDS demands are met.
Mohammed Sawalha, Hamas’ fugitive commander in Judea Samaria/ West Bank, who fled in the early 1990s and became a British national, founded the British Muslim Initiative and is deeply involved leading the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Another leader of the London BDS Movement, and a Hamas insider in London, is Azzam Tamimi, a professor of political thought and a leader of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
In a protest opposite the Israeli Embassy during the 2006 war Tamimi called on Britons to stand up and eradicate “this cancer from the body of humanity.” He publicly expressed gratitude to Iranian regime founder Ayatollah Khomeini for launching the international campaign to eradicate Israel. In a 2009 protest in the middle of London, Tamimi declared before a crowd of thousands, “We are all Hamas.”
Hamas involvement in the BDS movement has also included “lawfare” against Israel. According to Israel’s Intelligence and Information Center, Hamas’ Justice Ministry in Gaza, Al Tawthiq, worked directly with law offices in London to petition for the arrest of former prime minister Ehud Barak and former foreign minister Tzipi Livini on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity under the laws of universal jurisdiction for their roles in the 2009 Cast Lead operation in Gaza. Livni, as opposition leader, required the direct intervention of former British foreign minister William Hague in 2011 to avoid arrest during an official visit to the United Kingdom.
Hamas direct and indirect involvement or support of the BDS movement has far-reaching ramifications.
BDS activity linked to Hamas is legally actionable in both Europe and the United States where Hamas is designated as a terror organization.
The international Israel Apartheid Week and its accompanying BDS campaign is far from being a peaceful grass roots movement to bring “justice, equality and peace to Palestine.” Rather, it is largely a Muslim Brotherhood- and Hamas-fueled network that supports the same radical Islamic agenda of destroying Israel. NGOs involved in Israeli Apartheid Week and BDS should be placed under the legal and media spotlights for direct and indirect ties to and support for hybrid Islamic terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah that use BDS as a soft terror strategy to complement their “hard” terror campaigns.
The author is a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism at the IDC Herzliya . He served as the secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress from 2011 to 2013.