The Olive Tree Initiative and Terror

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The danger of sending American college students on Olive Tree Initiative trips to the West Bank was underscored by the recent discovery of 13 Hamas terror cells and a foiled suicide bombing plot in Jerusalem.

Since its founding in 2007, the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), a self-described non-partisan educational program, has been a lightening rod of controversy.

With chapters already operating on four UC campuses and more scheduled to open, the OTI has steadfastly maintained its mission is to bridge differences among college students on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through what it calls “civil discussion” and “open minds.”

To facilitate that effort, the OTI provides its Christian, Jewish and Muslim (and unaffiliated) student members a purportedly “balanced” speaker’s forum as well as an annual student “diplomatic mission” to Israel and the West Bank. Once there, students are called to “actively engage politicians and leading experts on many sides of the conflict and develop a more comprehensive view.”

Of course, it should be noted that some of the leading experts the students have met with include representatives of terrorist organizations. On a 2009 trip, the OTI student itinerary included a meeting with senior Hamas leader, Aziz Duwaik, an encounter in which students were later encouraged by OTI leaders to cover up.

Yet, despite its high-minded public aspirations and commitment to “neutrality” the reality is that the OTI has promoted a rabidly anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish agenda. The program creates a dangerous moral equivalency between speakers who seek to destroy the Jewish state and support terrorism and speakers supportive of mainstream Israel issues. Moreover, the OTI’s efforts have been aided by the support of a collection of overtly anti-Semitic, anti-Western groups, many with known links to terrorist organizations.

Chief among OTI’s nefarious terrorist supporters is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and its various affiliates, such as the Al Awda, Palsolidarity, SUSTAIN, Wheels of Justice Tour and the Middle East Children’s Alliance.

Co-founded by George Rishmawi, a leading figure in the OTI and likely one of its founders; Huwaida Arraf; Adam Shapiro; and Neta Golan in 2001, the ISM touts itself as a “peace group” that advocates “nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” In reality the ISM is dedicated to the destruction of Israel through aiding terrorist attacks and other efforts by terror organizations to destroy Israel. They also endorse Palestinian terrorism.

To that end the ISM has openly admitted to working with Hamas; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Fatah; the PLO; and the Palestinian Authority.

Of course, the ISM leadership isn’t shy about admitting to the true nature of its agenda. ISM co-founder Adam Shapiro has recently said:

What we’ve been doing over the last ten years with the International Solidarity Movement, Free Gaza, and all the other outgrowth organizations and movements is to … ramp up the resistance. This is all part of a Palestinian movement to transform this conflict between the rest of the world and Israel.

In its efforts to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ISM has been linked to a terror attack in Israel in 2003 that killed three people and wounded 60, as well a series of suicide attacks in London in 2005 that killed 52 people and wounded over 700.

Senior ISM leaders have also been accused of harboring Islamic militants, including members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Yet, the ISM’s most trusted and effective policy is recruiting activists to act as human shields for terrorist groups battling Israel by interfering with anti-terror operations of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

As such, the ISM was a prime organizer behind the May 2010 “Free Gaza Flotilla” in which ISM and other activists and militants provoked a confrontation with the IDF, a confrontation that left nine activists dead and seriously wounded 10 Israeli commandos. Most recently, the ISM was behind the unsuccessful July 2011 “Flytilla,” an effort to fly several hundred high-profile militant activists into the West Bank and which involved the participation of two OTI members.

In order to swell its ranks of activists, the ISM recruits worldwide, including at American universities. Once having established their presence on campus, the ISM and its affiliate groups then target unsuspecting or naïve college students. The students are mislead into thinking they will be participating in nonviolent demonstrations, unaware that the real purpose is to get them hurt or killed in confrontations with the Israeli Defense Forces.

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  • Flipside

    Wow. Not only does Frank Crimi LIE about the murder of Rachel Corrie, but he reposts tripe from the racist website Masada2000.

    This seriously impugns your credibility. As does the fact that all this in-depth "analysis" only appears on blogs.

    • jacob

      FLIPSIDE :

      And according to you,may I ask how was this foolish girl killed ???
      You call it MURDER and I call her stupid….
      Like laying down on railroad tracks and expect the locomotive engineer to
      see me and stop the train…

      It is time for these people to learn that, while it is true that the IDF is among
      the most humanitarian armies in the world, everything has a limit…

      And there are no holds barred to PALI propaganda, even killing one of their
      own to blame ISRAEL…
      Do you remember the 5,000 Palis dead of the JENIN "massacre" which
      turned out to be 36 gunmen killed and one "ressurection" of the corpse at
      a burial right in front of the UN commission when shots were fired nearby ???
      I rest my case

      • Flipside

        Yes. You may ask. The facts are that she was mowed down in plain view while standing directly in front of the front window at a visible angle and then also clambering atop a dirt pile before a savage IDF teenager in an armored bulldozer. Otherwise you are saying that Caterpillar designs bulldozers with no forward line of sight. Anyway, THERE ARE PHOTOS OF THE KILLING.

        “These people” are me. What do you think we are going to “learn” when you murder us and claim you are pushed beyond your limit? Do you think we would tolerate that line of reasoning from a hit and run in the US? From a rapist? A burglar? A Crip? Our own police? Your alleged limit after which you would murder a girl is no limit I am going to respect. It has nothing to do with Palestinians. If Israelis are so craven that they run girls over and absolve themselves by claiming they have a tough life, then Israelis deserve the world’s scorn.

        • UCSPanther

          A lot of those photos were found to be photoshopped.

          The ISM lost a LOT of credibility over that one.

          • Flipside

            Israel’s entire public image is photoshopped.

          • jasonz

            nice comeback. so you admit that the pix were faked..and another palestinan scumbag lie debunked with truth. palestine needs to write their lies down to keep track since they tell so many. but i guess its hard to keep trac with so many lies told invbetween murdering innocent children and sending rockets in. make the world a better place. eliminate islame!. and dont bother your ruushing to kill another infant to retort, if you support palesting then i know you are a coward and a liar. as for the pix of rachel…i laugh my butt off wathing that traitorous whore die!! hahahahahah

          • jasonz

            nice comeback, .yeah its photoshopped by lying palestinans caliming victimhood after they cause problems. so you admit ism lied…hmmmm seems thoes poor wittle palestinians do an awful lot of killing an lying about it. must be a muslim trait! islames and palesitnian total history is photoshopped

          • UCSPanther

            Nice try at projection, Mr. Like-Ron-Paul/George-Soros-or-else.

  • Jim

    If the so called Idealist students wish to go to Palestine and be murdered by the Palestinians or to engage in acts of war against Israel and have the Israeli shoos back then let them go. Who are we to argue with upside down logic.

    Perhaps the funders should go to.

  • jacob

    Bleeding hearts and political corrrectness will bury us all….
    After the 1954 failed attempt to capture the MONCADA army barracks in HAVANA
    and capturing all attackers (CASTRO the last), BATISTA's Chief of Police told him
    sharks were going hungry after WWII ending and proposed to drop ALL of them,
    conveniently "ballasted" from an aircraft at the deepest place of the Caribbean, the
    HAVANA Archibishop and then Senator DIAZ BALART(father of same name
    brothers, Florida reps. to Congress) pleaded with BATISTA and got him to exile
    them to MEXICO….
    How much blood, tears and suffering would have been spared the Cuban people
    if the Chief of Police wish would have been carried on ????
    Same case happened with CASTRO's disciple, CHAVEZ…
    ISRAEL wouldn't be facing any PALI problem nowadays, had SHARON been
    allowed to eliminate ARA-RAT and his cutthroats when in 1982 he had them
    between the sea and the Israeli armor at the Tripoli beach in Lebanon, instead
    of being forced to let them ship out to TUNISIA…..

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Not leaving and enemy behind is the only way to be sure of peace. Did any
      of these repent and ask for mercy,no not one. In the case of Arafat and the
      PLO, it may be the biggest mistake of Israel in modern times not to have
      ended his career of evil at Tripoli……………..William

  • StephenD

    As soon as I hear terms like International Solidarity or Equality or Peace or any other descriptor presented to put me at ease, my guard goes up. I immediately expect the opposite. Nine times out of ten, my assumptions are correct. My concern is for those well meaning students sucked in by these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Like Wide Mouth Bass they swallow the bait. Before long they have become "useful idiots" and have lost perspective. How sad they would voluntarily succumb to lies that make them feel good but produce only rot and decay.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    This is so insane that all I'm reading is the first few paragraphs. Indeed, there is only one balanced approach, which is the Islamic world via their proxy – the so-called Palestinians – are waging a permanent genocidal jihad of conquest against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel perpetually. Indeed, any other position is a dangerous distortion of reality.

    This OTI is masquerading as being a balanced non-biased approach, but what it really is, is stealth and deceptive non-violent jihad, and the useful idiots involved in fostering this monstrosity on the college campuses involved need to all be fired and blackballed.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    It is a live and learn world. OYM is absolutely correct, Palestinians are at war with
    Israel and their only goal is to destroy Israel, kill all Jews while suckering in every
    innocent and not so innocent person available. Colleges are notoriously free game
    zones for criminal and subversive elements of the war against the good by evil.
    Naivete can be a through going disease and quite fatal, College officials should
    ban all type of ISM activities for the protection of students. Where I part with
    OYM on this issue is I would not just blackball I would imprison and not let
    these leftist fiends ever see the light of day again…………………William

    • UCSPanther

      They like ISM because it gives them an additional source of English speaking mouthpieces and meat shields.

  • skai

    There is no religion as evil as Islam. Down with pals. see and