The ugly face of the anti-Israel BDS movement just got uglier. Or, to put it another way, a study of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement removed its mask to reveal some very nasty characters.
According to an 80-page report published this week by the Strategic Affairs Ministry, there are more than 100 different connections linking terrorists groups to organizations that promote anti-Israel boycotts, including “the employment of 30 current and ‘retired’ terror operatives.”
The report sports the catchy title “Terrorists in Suits,” and, as I suspected, beyond BDS’s useful idiots – Roger Waters and his ilk – lies an even darker layer of BDS-ers who are terrorists all dressed up. Connecting the dots, you can trace a line from “terrorists in suits” to terrorists in suicide vests. The lines crisscross through organizations professing to deal in human rights, spreading across continents.
This goes way beyond attempts to shoot down Tel Aviv as the host of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This is about shooting down Israel, period.
As Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan put it: “Terrorist groups and the anti-Israel boycott campaign have united in their goal of wiping Israel off the map. Terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks.”
The report shows how Hamas and the PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) have ties to at least 13 anti-Israel NGOs. This includes 20 members now occupying senior positions in NGOs who have previously sat in jail, some for murder. The report “shows how boycott organizations and terrorist designated organizations raise finances together, share the same personnel, and showcases that contrary to popular belief, these officials have not abandoned their support for terrorism, but instead, continue to maintain organizational, financial and active ties with terrorist groups.”
Follow the money trail and you’ll find the BDS organizations have received millions of euros in funding from European countries and philanthropic foundations, in addition to funds raised through crowdfunding, banks and other means.
Search for the femme fatale and you’ll find Leila Khaled, one of the stars of the study.
Khaled, the PFLP’s poster girl in the 1970s for her part in the hijacking and attempted hijacking of two airplanes, remains active in the organization. Far from renouncing “armed struggle,” in 2011 she acted as a mediator between the Syrian PFLP command center and a terrorist cell planning attacks in Jerusalem.
Among the PFLP’s atrocities was the attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood in 2014, which led to the deaths of five worshipers and a police officer. During a visit to Germany in 2016 as part of a tour of European countries, Khaled, the report notes, said: “Negotiations will be held only with knives and weapons.”
Khaled apparently still appeals to a certain type of person – the type who thinks hijackers are glamorous. Last year, she was invited to appear at an arts festival in Barcelona, for example, and the Johannesburg City Council proposed naming a street after her. It obviously pays to be a fund-raiser for BDS South Africa.
Another example of someone who knows how to exploit Western funding and forums is Mustapha Awad, currently in jail for his involvement in several terrorist organizations, including the PFLP and Hezbollah. Awad was a representative in Brussels of the NGO Samidoun, a group that pushes for the boycott of Israel and for the release of Palestinian security prisoners, and worked with the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) to bring Khaled to meet members of the European Parliament in 2016.
And there’s Shawan Jabarin, a former senior PFLP activist who served several prison terms in Israel for his involvement in terrorism, who is now director-general of the boycott-promoting organization Al-Haq. In 2007, a Supreme Court judge described Jabarin as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some of his time is spent in conducting a human rights organization, and some as an operative in an organization which has no qualms regarding murder and attempted murder, which have no relation whatsoever to rights.”
THE REPORT is split into two sections, the first concentrating on the PFLP. The second half of the report focuses on Hamas, although ties between the two organizations can also be seen.
Its main findings are summed up under the subtitle: “BDS: A Complementary Track to Terrorism.” “Terrorist organizations see the ‘civilian’ struggle against Israel – demonstrations, marches, fund-raising, political lobbying and the so-called ‘peace’ flotillas – as a complementary effort of their armed attacks against the State of Israel,” the study notes.
Palestinian terror groups had their own methods hijacked by later groups including al-Qaeda and Islamic State meaning that their tactics of old no longer went down well in Western society. A new approach was necessary: infiltrating and exploiting innocent-sounding NGOs to advance their goals.
Since ties to terrorist organizations are kept out of sight, these operatives are seen as legitimate civil society actors. Hence the European parliamentarians have met with convicted terrorists in the guise of “activists.”
A series of previous ministry studies identified 42 leading NGOs, out of the nearly 300 organizations that promote BDS and the delegitimization of Israel, and showed that these groups “act as a network, with the various NGOs working closely together.”
The latest study takes it a step further to show the ties between terrorist organizations and NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, the Gaza Strip, the UK, Belgium, South Africa and the US. For example, the Ramallah-based Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which leads the international boycott movement and particularly promotes the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, is comprised of 28 Palestinian organizations, including the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF), which encompasses Hamas, the PFLP and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – all designated terror organizations.
Hamas, not shy about launching thousands of rockets on civilian targets in southern Israel, has nonetheless tried to cultivate a softer look to accompany its regular “Marches of Return.” Using incendiary balloons, kites – and even a couple of kestrels attached to flammable material – it has burned thousands of acres of Israeli land, with devastating results for wildlife.
Never averse to using its own population as human shields, Hamas also exploits international relief organizations to use their funds and facilities for its own murderous purposes. Relying on information from a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) publication, the ministry’s study notes, for example, that Hamas’s military wing used the position of a member, Mohammed Halabi, as regional manager of the Christian aid organization World Vision in Gaza. He “transferred aid, equipment and relief packages sent by World Vision to Hamas, which were used to pay the salaries of Hamas operatives, and support the construction of terror tunnels and Hamas’s military buildup. Approximately 60% of the NGO’s Gaza branch’s annual budget was transferred to Hamas.”
The BDS movement is not an existential threat, but Israel should not shy away from exposing the real faces of the terrorists who are its advocates. A bipartisan majority in the US Senate passed a bill on Tuesday, February 5, supporting state and local efforts to combat BDS. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where members should keep in mind the unmasked faces behind the boycott movement. When Democrat representatives such as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar express their ardent support of BDS, they – and their own supporters – need to know exactly who is the object of their admiration.
Palestinian terrorists have gone from hijacking planes to hijacking NGOs. BDS can get all dressed up but its terrorists in suits are still dressed to kill. It’s a thin line between the character assassination of Israel to the murder of its citizens. From human rights bodies to dead bodies. Civil society it ain’t.
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