Palestinian BDS group in US rebrands itself

“Any action that puts Israel in a normal light goes against everything the BDS movement is going for."

November 23, 2016 02:34
3 minute read.
bds boycott

Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File]. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A US-based Palestinian activist group has changed its name and dropped two controversial members from its steering committee. At its October conference, the “US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation” announced it would now be called the “US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.”

Organization members Abraham Greenhouse, who was allegedly involved in violent activity, and Hatem Abudayyeh, who was embroiled in a federal investigation of terrorism financing, are no longer on the group’s steering committee.

Ramah Kudaimi, a spokeswoman for the group, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that “The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights is a coalition of hundreds of groups working to advocate for the rights of Palestinians and freedom, justice and equality in Palestine/Israel. The Steering Committee is determined by a membership voting process to elect nominees to serve for three-year terms with a maximum of three consecutive terms.”

Greenhouse told the Post Tuesday that his term on the US Campaign Steering Committee “ended this year, and I opted not to run for a second term in this year’s election.” In 2003, Greenhouse threw a pie in the face of then Jerusalem minister Natan Sharansky at a Rutgers University event. He was convicted of disorderly conduct.

Allegations of violence from Greenhouse are listed on the website The Canary Mission. Greenhouse told the Post, "The Canary Mission website includes claims about myself and others that are patently false, and I am considering legal action."

Abudayyeh did not respond to requests for comment.

Kudaimi has launched attacks against Israel and groups that seek interfaith programs with the Jewish state. Last year, Kudaimi came out strongly against a trip by members of the Muslim Leadership Initiative to Jerusalem (MLI), organized with the Shalom Hartman Institute.

“Any action that puts Israel in a normal light goes against everything the BDS movement is going for,” he said at the time. “Their engagement in this trip goes against the whole goal of isolating Israel and forcing Israel to be held accountable for its war crimes.”

The group signed a public letter to boycott the MLI, “reject[ing] the notion that this program is an interfaith one and that there is the need for Muslim Americans to engage with the State of Israel or institutions complicit in its war crimes.”

Israel expelled Kudaimi from the country in July 2016 and she was banned from entering the disputed Palestinian territories and Israel for a period of 10 years.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post Tuesday that the US Campaign is listed as the Education for Just Peace in the Middle East, according to US tax forms.

Steinberg, whose organization issues reports on NGO misconduct, said, “The officials who run this NGO have been among the leaders of BDS and anti-Israel demonization campaigns for a number of years. Their anti-peace agenda includes promoting ‘the commemoration of the Nakba’ and the ‘ethnic cleansing of Palestine,’ and exploiting apartheid allegations. The rebranding is apparently linked to funding received from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which has emerged as the leading BDS sponsor in the US. They received $30,000 for 2016.”

A pro-BDS group affiliated with the US Campaign – Richmonders for Peace in Israel and Palestine – held a meeting with a staffer in former VP candidate and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine’s office in October.

Kaine’s communications director, Amy Dudley, told the Post that Kaine was not present at the meeting, and “these meetings in no way signal support for such groups’ positions.... Senator Kaine opposes boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel.”

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