Keep BDS and bigotry away from Capitol Hill

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is now attempting to deceive Congress in order to gain legitimacy and support.

A GROUP of protesters demonstrate against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to Congress in 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A GROUP of protesters demonstrate against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to Congress in 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The “US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation,” a national coalition of some 400 anti-Israel organizations in nearly all 50 states, held its annual conference this past week in Arlington, Virginia.
The final day of the conference was designated as a congressional lobbying day on Capitol Hill.
US Campaign members were scheduled to attempt to meet with their elected representatives to further the organization’s agenda. The US Campaign is a pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions organization that denies the legitimacy of Israel’s existence, demonizes the Jewish state, and calls for cutting all ties between the United States and Israel. Its leadership and members are supporters of terrorist groups and have a record of violence.
The US Campaign aggressively supports the BDS assault which calls for the boycott of Israeli academics, cultural figures and businesses based solely on their Israeli nationality. Therefore, institutions and groups that facilitate the US Campaign’s BDS crusade may be violating US anti-discrimination and anti-BDS legislation. Members of Congress must be advised of the ill-intentions of these representatives of this discriminatory, bigoted and terrorism-supporting organization who are seeking meetings with members of the House of Representatives to legitimize their multi-front assault against the people and State of Israel.
Opposition to Israel’s existence The US Campaign was set up in the spring and summer of 2001 by activists looking to end US support for Israel. They launched their battle against the US-Israel relationship during the tidal wave of Palestinian suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians known as the second intifada. This BDS coalition now consists of some 400 anti-Israel, pro-BDS organizations from coast to coast.
The BDS campaign which the US Campaign endorses and promotes aims for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. In the words of the founder and most prominent leader of the BDS campaign, Palestinian engineer turned activist Omar Barghouti, “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”
The BDS campaign also makes clear its opposition to the US policy of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Barghouti declaring, “Going back to the two-state solution, besides having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with.
Anna Baltzer, the US Campaign’s co-founder and director of organizing and advocacy, has likewise declared that she opposes the existence of Israel, explaining, “I recognized that the problem was not simply occupation, but rather the creation and maintenance of an ethno-nationalist Jewish entity.... I realized occupation was just one step in a much longer process, and I couldn’t simply oppose one and not the other.”
Ties to banned terrorist groups The leaders and members of the US Campaign to “end the Israeli occupation” have supported and maintain ties to terrorist groups. They also have a track record of violence and incitement to destroy Israel.
Baltzer has whitewashed the terrorist activities of Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which has enjoyed the financial backing of the Iranian regime and has sought additional assistance to enable Gaza terrorist tunnel assaults to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians.
The Aksa Martyrs Brigades is one of the most violent Palestinian armed groups, and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, EU and Canada.
In a March 2007 article written from Nablus meant to convey the “truth” about events in Palestine to American readers, Baltzer claimed, “It’s worth noting that [Israeli] soldiers are the very targets of the wanted men, not Israeli civilians. Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade plans attacks against armed fighters.”
This is a violent distortion of reality. In truth, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades has carried out dozens of terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians in Israeli cities within the pre-1967 lines, in which hundreds of civilians have been murdered or injured. For example, on January 5, 2003, two Aksa Martyrs Brigades suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, murdering 23 Israeli civilians and injuring over 100. In fact, fewer than 90 days before Baltzer published her article, a Martyrs Brigades terrorist walked into a bakery in Eilat and blew himself up, murdering three Israeli civilians.
Baltzer is hardly alone in her support for terrorism and violence among the US Campaign leadership and membership. US Campaign Steering Committee member Bekah Wolf is married to convicted Islamic Jihad terrorist Mousa Abu Maria. US Campaign Steering Committee member Abe Greenhouse was charged in 2007 with criminal mischief and unlawful possession of a weapon. Greenhouse first gained notoriety when he threw a pie in the face of former Soviet refusenik and Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky while Sharansky was delivering a lecture at Rutgers University in 2003.
US Campaign’s Hamas-supporting partner One of the US Campaign’s “member groups in good standing for 2016” is the terrorism-supporting organization American Muslims for Palestine.
In April 2016, former US Treasury terrorism finance analyst Jonathan Schanzer testified before Congress regarding the numerous connections between AMP and three organizations that were shut down or held civilly liable by the US government for providing financial support to the Hamas terrorist group.
For example, the Holy Land Foundation was designated by the US Treasury as a terrorist-supporting entity in 2001 for having channeled approximately $12.4 million to Hamas. One of the foundation’s officers was identified by Hamas’s top official as “the Hamas leader for the US.” While a number of foundation officials fled the United States or were convicted, at least three have transferred to central positions in American Muslims for Palestine, which has become one of the most significant funders of the violent campus BDS group Students for Justice in Palestine, providing money, speakers, training and even “apartheid walls” to SJP activists on campus.
BDS discrimination and antisemitism The BDS campaign calls for the boycott of Israeli academics, cultural figures and businesses, based solely on the criterion that they are Israeli. Furthermore, as BDS singles out and demonizes the world’s only Jewish state, and in practice often targets Jewish supporters of Israel, it has frequently been described as antisemitic. For that reason, 13 US states, as well as Congress, have passed legislation aimed at combating BDS.
The blatant discrimination inherent in the US Campaign is prohibited by the Washington, DC, Human Rights Act which states, “It is the intent of the Council of the District of Columbia... to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit, including, but not limited to, discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national origin.”
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is now attempting to deceive Congress in order to gain legitimacy and support. It must not be allowed to lobby America’s elected representatives. Instead, this violence-supporting BDS coalition must be unmasked, isolated and boycotted. Members of Congress, regardless of their stance regarding Israel’s presence in the post-1967 disputed territories, must reject requests to be approached by representatives of an organization that calls for the destruction of a US ally, supports terrorism and violence, and promotes discriminatory and antisemitic policies.
Dan Diker is project director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.