The Al-Awda Palestinian Refugees Right of Return organization, which is planning a protest on March 24 of the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, has ties to Palestinian terrorist organizations and its leadership has made openly antisemitic remarks.
Al-Awda, which is Arabic for “the return,” calls on its website for an end to all US aid to Israel, a comprehensive boycott of Israel, the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and a Palestinian state “in all of Palestine,” meaning one that would replace Israel. It refers to Israel in quotation marks, further signaling its unacceptance of the country’s existence. The group has chapters throughout the US.
The organization’s protest aims to “expose [AIPAC’s] subversion of US foreign policy” and “continue to battle on behalf of the beleaguered Palestinian people,” its GoFundMe page explains. They are promoting the event on social media with the hashtag “#SupportPalestineInDC2019.” The organization is seeking to match its fundraising from last year’s protest, which reached $10,000. As of March 4, it received $2,000.
Al-Awda is a founding member of the Global Palestinian Right of Return Coalition (GPRRC), a group of 12 organizations advocating for "Palestinian refugees and internally displaced in Palestine and the exile."
The GPRRC is a member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which coordinates the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement worldwide. The central organization in the BNC is the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF), which includes five US-designated terrorist organizations: Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front - General Command, the Palestine Liberation Front and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Al-Awda is a founding member of the Global Palestinian Right of Return Coalition (GPRRC), a group of 12 organizations advocating for “Palestinian refugees and internally displaced in Palestine and the exile.”
The GPRRC is a member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which coordinates the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement worldwide. The central organization in the BNC is the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF), which includes five US-designated terrorist organizations: Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front – General Command, the Palestine Liberation Front and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
One of Al-Awda’s co-founders, Mazin Qumsiyeh, was the coordinator of the Popular Resistance Committee Against the Wall, which, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, coordinated its activities with Hamas and the PFLP, among other groups. Qumsiyeh was arrested by Israeli authorities a dozen times, by his own admission in 2011. He was also part of the 2018 Freedom Flotilla Coalition, sailing to Gaza to break Israel’s naval blockade, which includes several organizations with ties to Hamas and the PFLP.
Since its establishment, Al-Awda has regularly hosted convicted terrorists at its events and members of terrorist groups at its events. Then-PFLP secretary-general George Habash addressed an Al-Awda rally in New York in 2001 via video link, as did convicted Islamic Jihad terrorists Sami al-Arian and Mazen al-Najjar, who spent three years in a US prison due to his ties to Islamic Jihad. In 2015, Al-Awda and Students for Justice in Palestine held a solidarity event for five members of the Holy Land Foundation, who were arrested by the US government in 2001 for funneling $12 million to Hamas. The event invitation can still be accessed on the Al-Awda 2019 Facebook page.
Senior members of Al-Awda have expressed support for violence against Israelis and made antisemitic remarks on social media.
During the 2014 wave of terror, marked by stabbings, shootings and car-rammings, Al-Awda treasurer Anas Amireh posted an image of a car-gun with the message “by all means necessary” and the Arabic caption: “Resist, even by using your car.”
The official Al-Awda Facebook page expressed support for Hamas during that period, and last year posted in honor of Ghassan Kanafani, a former leader of the PFLP.
In November 2018, Al-Awda co-founder and NY chair Lamis Deek shared a link from Hamas’s official page praising Hamas terrorists, saying that they are “astounded from your bravery. Glory is for the martyrs.”
Abbas Hamideh, who posted the GoFundMe page for the AIPAC protest
, has repeatedly tweeted in support of Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. In 2007, he posted a photo of himself and “real life hero” Rasmea Odeh, who killed two Israelis in a supermarket in 1969. In 2014, he posted another photo of Odeh, calling her “courageous.” In 2017, he called to rally in support outside a hearing in Detroit over whether to deport Odeh for lying on her US immigration papers; she was eventually deported.
As for antisemitic remarks, in 2006, in an Al-Awda rally in San Francisco, the crowd chanted “Jews are our dogs,” according to reports by San Francisco Weekly and The Jewish Journal.
Qumsiyeh, the Al-Awda co-founder, was a professor of cytogenetics at Yale University when he circulated a list of students he called a “pro-war cabal,” when, in fact, they were members of a Yale pro-Israel group, all of whom were Jewish, according to the book The UnCivil University: Intolerance on College Campuses.
A tweet by Hamideh, shared by the official Al-Awda Twitter account in 2016, featured a graphic comparing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler, and Judaism to Nazism, in that it included a Star of David combined with a swastika. In 2016, Hamideh tweeted: “Zionism will end just like Nazism. You can have a chat with God afterward to guide you back to Poland, Russia or even Morocco.”
Hamideh met with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib earlier this year, and posted on Twitter a photo of the two smiling after what he called a “private dinner.”
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