Protesters outside the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington compared Israel supporters to Nazis in a demonstration organized by Al-Awda, an anti-Israel group with connections to several Palestinian terrorist organizations.
“A progressive Zionist is the same as a progressive Nazi,” Abbas Hamideh, an Al-Awda leader, chanted at Sunday’s protest, with demonstrators cheering him in response. Hamideh posted a video of the protest on his Facebook page. In a reference to a remark by Rep. Ilhan Omar, which was condemned as antisemitic by many Jewish organizations and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, Hamideh said: “We are demanding an end to AIPAC’s influence over our American politicians. We demand an end to the Benjamins” – meaning $100 bills – “that go to the politicians.”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 refusal to accept the country’s existence.Earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post exposed Al-Awda’s ties to terrorist groups. It is a founding member of the Global Palestinian Right of Return Coalition (GPRRC), part 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. Since its establishment, Al-Awda has also regularly hosted convicted terrorists and members of terrorist groups at its events.Following the Post’s reporting, the International Legal Forum (ILF) sent a warning letter to GoFundMe, where Al-Awda was raising money to organize its demonstration at AIPAC, saying that they are providing services to a terrorism-affiliated organization.GoFundMe told ILF that its “Trust & Safety team will be investigating the page and taking appropriate action.” The site did not respond to further inquiries.ILF CEO Yifa Segal said that “providing financial services to terror-affiliated organizations constitutes material support for terrorism which is a severe federal offense under US law. The ILF is committed to exposing and pursuing these matters, making sure that the law is enforced and terror-affiliated organizations are defunded and unmasked.”Al-Awda’s GoFundMe page for the protest said it aims to “expose [AIPAC’s] subversion of US foreign policy” and “continue to battle on behalf of the beleaguered Palestinian people.” They promoted the event on social media with the hashtag “#SupportPalestineInDC2019.” The organization sought to match its fund-raising from last year’s protest, which reached $10,000, but as of March 25, it only raised half that amount.
Facebook clips show Al-Awda leader Abbas Hamideh protesting outside AIPAC conference in Washington on March 25, 2019. (Courtesy)