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It should be noted that Barghouti had expounded on a similar theme recently when he addressed the annual conference meeting of J Street, the self-described “pro Israel” and “pro peace” political action committee, which in reality is an anti-Israel propaganda outlet funded by the likes of radical billionaire George Soros.
Barghouti told the J Street attendees that “Some people might not like the word apartheid…We [Palestinians] actually live in that system…I cannot describe to you the level of [Israeli] violations of human rights.”
However, the fact that the OTI would list Mustafa Barghouti as an “institutional supporter” of the organization should engender little surprise given the wealth of other nefarious speakers involved with the group, as well as its heavy promotion of the demonize of Israel.
To achieve its goal of indoctrinating naive college students, the OTI provides its Christian, Jewish and Muslim student members trips to Israel and surrounding territories and a purportedly “balanced” speakers forum, so that they may experience “dialogue.” In reality, by putting wildly unacceptable views about Israel on par with mainstream views, the program legitimates the rhetoric of professional Israel-bashers like Barghouti, whom the program effectively deems a purveyor of an acceptable alternative point of view.
The GMJ will be followed by an upcoming anti-Israel event organized by Mazin Qumsiyeh, another notorious friend of the OTI. Qumsiyeh, who had organized the failed July 2011 “Flytilla,” an effort to fly several hundred high-profile militant activists into the West Bank in order to provoke a confrontation with the IDF, is reportedly organizing another Flytilla for mid-April.
Student participants in the OTI have even met with members of the terrorist organization Hamas. In 2009, a UC Irvine student trip to Israel sponsored by OTI included a meeting with Aziz Duwaik, a top Hamas leader. Students were instructed to cover up the meeting, and no investigation was conducted by UC Irvine. It should be noted that Aziz Duwaik was later arrested in January 2012 by the IDF on suspicion of terrorist activity.
In addition to meeting with Hamas, OTI students have met with representatives from other groups, including Sabeel, a leader in the anti-Israel church divestment campaign, and the Alternative Information Center (AIC), which has compared Israeli military and political figures to Nazis. Many of these OTI associates were also involved with the GMJ and the flytilla.
Unfortunately, the work of the OTI has been made possible by the financial support of Jewish organizations like the Jewish Federation of Orange County, and has enjoyed friendly relations with Hillel, the Jewish student organization. It continues to grow and expand to more universities every year. Thus, their network and alliances are very clear.
Organizations such as Ha-Emet have notified the Jewish Federation of Orange County of the concerns about the Olive Tree Initiative. However, it has yet to repudiate its association with this organization and has so far declined to sign the Fogel Pledge, a document meant to ensure federation funding does not go toward any activities that promote BDS or the demonization of Israel. With associates such as Barghouti, Qumsiyeh and Duwaik in their midst, the OTI certainly falls under this rubric.
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