Bringing the War on Jerusalem to American Universities

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Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) with Mustafa Barghouti, regular speaker with Olive Tree Initiative

The Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), the self-described “non-partisan college educational program” operating out of numerous universities, has, since its founding in 2007, received the support of a bevy of rabidly anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish individuals and groups, many with connections to terrorist organizations and their apologists, including Hamas.

One such notable OTI supporter is Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), a Palestinian political party founded in 2002 as a purported “democratic third force” between the “corruption” of the Palestinian political umbrella group Fatah and the “extremism” of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Barghouti has not only served as a lecturer for the OTI for many years, but in 2009 his organization, the PNI, was thanked for being an “Institiutional Supporter” of the program. An overview of Barghouti’s background validates why critics of the OTI believe the organization’s purpose is to manufacture anti-Israel advocates, all the while masquerading as a group dedicated to promoting “understanding” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Barghouti’s antipathy for Israelis may run in his family, given that his cousin, Marwan Barghouti, led the First and Second Intifadas and is currently serving five life sentences for murder in Israel. While Barghouti has publicly portrayed himself as a promoter of non-violence and an advocate of a two-state solution, he has also shown a disdain for the political process, having once proclaimed that “there’s no use in meetings with Israelis and there is no peace partner in Israel.”

Nevertheless, the reality is that Barghouti has played a leading role in the Fatah-Hamas coalition, a role which includes sidling up to the genocidal terrorists of Hamas and portraying Israel as bastion of apartheid and a perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

For example, Barghouti, who is a leader in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, the economic warfare campaign against Israel, often uses “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” rhetoric in describing Israel.

Barghouti’s most recent effort to delegitimize Israel was as a prime organizer of the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) on March 30, an event also supported by Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the theocratic totalitarians of Iran.

According to event organizers, the GMJ was a protest march in which Arab and foreign activists were to descend upon Jerusalem in an attempt to “confirm that the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.”

Backed by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomenei, the GMJ’s advisory body consisted of a rogue’s gallery of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli zealots, including radical professors Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, Code Pink head Medea Benjamin, and Black liberation theologist and Obama pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Organizational backers of the GMJ also included another OTI friend, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a radical anti-Israel organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, which 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.

Barghouti himself highlighted the GMJ’s central mission to cast Israel as a swamp of apartheid when prior to the march, he told Iran’s semi-official news agency, Fars, “We know that Israel is capable of terrible violence …Today in Jerusalem you see the Israeli system of segregation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing in the sharpest possible way.”

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  • Schlomotion

    The admissions in this article are breathtaking. You admit that the Hamas-Fatah coalition, and subsequently any type of democratic coalition in Palestine is a horror to you. You admit that while Zionist groups have college-based panel discussions to promote Israel all the time, no such Palestinian groups should be allowed to exist. You admit that you think college students cannot think for themselves and that sponsored trips to Israel (just like Birthright Israel does) could only mesmerize their minds and bribe them to be anti-Israel. Is this because the PLO isn't giving them extacy and throwing them in a waterfall and taking them clubbing, but rather showing them the bantustans and the machine gun parapets? You admit that you are trying to take away these people's right to speak. You admit that you are targeting specific individuals and stalking them across the country to politically disenfranchise them. You are harassing organizations and trying to force them to repudiate people who have a different agenda from yourself. Your ire includes Palestinians, Christians, Muslims, and a vast quantity of Jews. Why should people listen to you and not them?

    • Bartimaeus

      It is a matter of truth and error. The truth shall set you free, but error and lies, presented as truth, is the road to destruction… If a group of Palestinian supporters was formed to actually exam the facts of history and rationally look for ways to create peace that would be fine, but this is not the case. What good is teaching that refuses to look at Arab responsibility for the present impasse? The Arab/Islamists accepted the land settlements the West set up as the victors after WW1, as long as it was all their land, but when it came to settling the Jews in the small piece of land that they have a deeper historical connection to than the Arabs or Islam will ever have, they could not stand it. The Arabs have a heavy responsibility for over 60 years war and terrorism that is aimed to destroy the Jews and take their land. The Israel bashing is so one sided and distorted that it should not have a place in public discourse.

      • Schlomotion

        I agree with everything but your last sentence.

  • g_jochnowitz

    As far as a democratic coalition in Palestine is concerned, consider the fact that a Palestinian woman was arrested for saying on Facebook that Abbas should resign.

  • Guest

    I agree.

  • Guest

    Those who marched on Jerusalem a few days ago demonstrated that they were on a romp of fantasy more than they were on anyything else. They must have been very loosely educated. Everyone knows that Jerusalem was the capital of ancient Israel a thousand years before Christ and sixteen hundred years before Mohammed. Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times. Not one time is it mentioned in the Koran. For a place that Muslims claim is such a holy place of veneration for them this would seem to be an astonishing lapse. Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, beseiged some 23 times, attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times but it has NEVER, NOT ONCE, been the capital city of any other country in 3,000 years! This should be obvious even to those whose minds work in Schlomotion.

    The Arab/Palestinian claims upon Jerusalem are entirely spurious. They simply have no case nor do the so-called Palestinians have the slightest legitimacy. They are no more a homogeneous people indigenous to the region than the equator is a country. As evidence of this I cite an interview with Zahir Muhsein who served as an executive committee member of the PLO. This was first published on March 31st. 1977 in the Dutch newspaper, TROUW: "The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical purposes do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian People' to oppose Zionism.

    For tactical reasons Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa while as a Palestinian I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."

    This statement shows just how threadbare the claims of the so-called Palestinians really are and it should act as a warning to King Abdullah of Jordan who, judging by some of his remarks and those of his dimwitted wife, has been using his time on the throne as an opportunity to catch up on some sleep.

    • Guest

      Well-said, Paul! I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Guest

    As for the vile and counter-productive Olive Tree Initiative nothing one can say about its agenda can be too harsh. All bad ideas are good on the leafy campus.The OTI, the Rose Project which supports it and the Orange County Jewish Federation which helps fund it have all managed to align themselves with terrorist killers as well as an ideology that subjugates women, hangs homosexuals, persecutes non-muslim minorities and constantly repeats how it wishes to wipe Israel off the face of the map. What are we to make of this?

    On September 16th. 2009 a group of University of California students was taken to the disputed territories for a meeting with Aziz Dweik, a high Hamas official who was arrested by the IDF in January this year on suspicion of involvement with terrorist groups. No thought was given to what should be done to protect the students if anything went awry. After the meeting the students were asked to keep the meeting secret in case objections to it were raised! The whole episode was an outrage and a damnable disgrace. What is worse is that it was wrapped in the cloak of "outreach" a favorite tactic of appeasers who can't bring themselves to imagine that their enemies actually do want to wipe them off the face of the earth. This is the same sort of failure of imagination that led to the murder of 6 million Jews in concentration camps. Nevertheless, it exposed those who are unable to distinguish between COLLABORATION and EDUCATION. Confusing the two can be fatal. That time it wasn't but it is unwise to put one's faith in luck. It is far better to realise that terrorist organizations do not always behave in ways that comport with lofty academic discussions held in the Senior Faculty Common Rooms and at the High Tables of universities.

    And what of the Hillel rabbis who endorse the OTI? To listen to them one would think that the OTI is one long felicitous march towards enlightenment but when one hears hoof-beats one should look for horses not unicorns. One of the main goals of Hillel is to provide its students with an abiding appreciation of their Jewish identity and heritage as well as their vital connection to the ancient and historical homeland now known as the Jewish nation state of Israel. The rabbis will find that this best accomplished when not in a prostrate position.

    Mr. Barghouti is an anti-Semite as is anyone who endorses BDS against Israel. The charges against her are either trumped up or vastly exaggerated and usually heard in the kangaroo court of the Human Rights Commission while nobody even wants to mention how, until Israel regained control of all of Jerusalem in 1967, the Jordanians systematically destroyed synagogues and converted marble gravestones stolen from Jewish cemeteries into urinals.

    The atom bomb of accusations against Israel is that of genocide but it is the most easy to disprove. Since the mid 1960s, according to the U.N. statistics, the Arab/Palestinian population in the region has increased by 250%. Clearly, whoever is in charge of Israel's genocide program should be fired but the more serious point to be made is this and it is one upon which the leaders of the OTI, the Rose Project, the Orange County Jewish Federation and the U.C. Hillel rabbis should reflect: when they give assent to such obvious lies they cooperate with evil and in a very real way become evil themselves.

    • Guest

      Anyone who is familiar with the writing style of Paul Schnee will easily recognize it in the last two comments above. It's difficult to disagree with him since he always augments his facts with just the right amount of force sprinkled with witty nuances. If anyone would like to read his excellent work it can be seen on:

  • Almeda University

    its very nice post thanks for interesting knowledge