Where BDS and Terrorists Converge
The international Left and the Iranian-controlled terror nexus.
On May 31, the cry went out from Times Square, New York City, to annihilate Israel and extend the terror war against the Jewish state to America.
As they did in Beirut, Berlin, London, Tehran, and Dearborn, Michigan, Israel-haters gathered at Times Square to call for Israel’s dissolution on the day the Iranian regime has determined to be “Al Quds Day,” that is, Jerusalem Day.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) posted a video of the event. In it, a series of speakers called over and over again for Israel’s annihilation, voiced support for terrorists and terrorism and called for the war against Israel to come to New York.
Nate Chase from the World Workers’ Party led the crowd in chanting, “We don’t want not two state! We want ’48!”
That is, we don’t want to partition the land mass west of the Jordan River. We want to annihilate Israel, which was established in 1948.
Chase continued, “Because every inch – from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea – is Palestine!
“Israel does not exist! It has not existed, it doesn’t exist, and it will never exist! There is only Palestine!” he cried.
“From New York to Gaza!”
And Joe Catron from Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner [i.e. terrorist] Solidarity Network, led the crowd chanting, “There is only one solution!”
The crowd responded, “Intifada! Revolution!”
While unsettling, the pro-terror calls going out from Times Square were helpful. They laid bare the fact that terror groups are actively involved in the political campaigns against Israel.
Among the speakers, Catron from Samidoun in particular personified the nexus between terror groups and the political war against Israel.
Last October, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs published an in-depth report demonstrating the central role terror Palestinian terror groups play in the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) campaign against Israel and Jews who support Israel.
The report, titled “Terrorists in Suits: The ties between NGOs promoting BDS and terrorist organizations,” exposed that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas are both heavily involved — indeed, likely control — several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Western countries that play central roles in BDS campaigns. Hamas and the PFLP are both designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department and the EU.
Samidoun is a major actor in the BDS universe. According to the Israeli government report, Samidoun is a U.S.-registered NGO founded in 2012. It has branches in Lebanon, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Greece, and the Palestinian Authority.
It is also enmeshed in, if not controlled by, the PFLP.
According to the Israeli government report, Samidoun’s international coordinator, Charlotte Kates, is married to Khaled Barakat, a member of the PFLP Central Committee. Kates is a member of several other BDS groups operating in the U.S. and Europe. Many of them are similarly affiliated with the PFLP. Some operate as left-wing BDS groups.
The Israeli report further alleges that Mustafa Awad, Samidoun’s European representative, is a Lebanese national. The report notes that according to the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), Awad was a member of a PFLP terrorist cell operating in Europe, and was in contact with terrorist operatives from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli government report further reveals that Kates’a husband Barakat “arranged for Awad to begin his military training in 2015 in Lebanon with Hezbollah.”
It continues, “Awad also took part in a 2015 meeting in Germany with PFLP operatives, during which they discussed how to revamp the organization’s activities.”
Moreover, it alleges, “Awad transferred funds from Lebanon and Syria to Khaled Barakat, in Belgium, on at least two occasions during 2016-2017. Additionally, he left his personal laptop and mobile phone with convicted [PFLP] terrorist Leila Khaled in Jordan before attempting to enter Israel…where he was arrested (July 2018).”
Following his reported arrest, the Israeli report reveals, “Awad was sentenced to 12 months in prison, as well as 12 months on probation, for membership in a terrorist organization, prohibited military training and use of property for terrorist activities.”
Catron’s Twitter page banner features a photo of him with Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled.
The Israeli government report also exposes that Barakat appears at conferences with his wife, Kates. He runs the PFLP campaign for the release of PFLP commander Ahmad Sa’adat. Sa’adat is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in Israel for masterminding the 2001 assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.
Samidoun runs a parallel campaign for Saadat’s release. As the report notes, “The PFLP campaign website uses elements identical to those on the Samidoun site. In light of this, and in light of Barakat’s connection to Kates, it is likely that donations made through the Samidoun website benefitted Barakat and the PFLP.”
She also directed readers to the PFLP website, which also glorifies Ze’evi’s assassination.
In other words, it is hard to see where Samidoun begins and the PFLP ends.
According to a report published Tuesday in the Times of Israel, in response to the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs campaign against Samidoun and other key BDS groups tied to the PFLP and Hamas, ten bank accounts in the U.S. and twenty in Europe attached to these groups have been shut down. Samidoun is among the groups that have been affected, with three of their accounts now shut due to the group’s ties to the PFLP.
The BDS campaign is geared towards two main goals. First, as its name suggests, its purpose is to wage political and economic warfare against Israel. By targeting Israeli companies and international companies that do business with Israel, the BDS campaign seeks to undermine the Israeli economy.
Moreover, by singling out non-Israelis who support Israel, particularly non-Israeli Jews who support Israel, the BDS campaign seeks to make the social cost of supporting Israel prohibitive while expelling predominantly Jewish pro-Israel voices from the public square.
These actions, in turn, advance two other goals. First, since like the terror groups, the goal of BDS groups more generally is to put an end to Israel’s existence, the BDS campaign works to legitimize the goal of the terrorist groups. Once publics in the West are desensitized to calls for the physical destruction of Israel and its Jewish citizens, they will similarly support — or not oppose — terrorist action to bring about this goal.
Finally, by involving themselves in political campaigns to defame and delegitimize Israel, terror groups, including the PFLP, build strategic alliances with the international left. So too, as Awad’s terror training with Hezbollah in Lebanon makes clear, the PFLP is a bridgethat links the international left with the Iranian-controlled terror nexus.
Thus, it is not surprising that communists and PFLP-aligned BDS agitators joined forces to call for Israel’s destruction and support terrorism at Al Quds Day demonstrations from Dearborn to New York to Beirut. Al Quds Day was created by Iran to present the Shiite ayatollahs as the tip of the spear in the global war against Israel.
Moreover, as we shall presently see, through their addition of political warfare to their terrorism portfolio, terror groups, including the PFLP, are able to secure the cooperation and in some cases the funding of European governments and the EU, which support their political warfare against Israel.
BDS is not the only campaign in which the PFLP is intimately involved. If BDS is the battle for the hearts and minds of the nations of the West for the cause of Israel’s destruction, on the ground in Israel, the PFLP is also actively involved in another campaign to seize lands that Israel requires to defend its vital strategic interests and its citizens.
In November 2018, Regavim, an Israeli NGO dedicated to protecting Israel’s state lands and natural resources published a major study of Palestinian land seizures in Area C of the West Bank. In the framework of the peace agreements that Israel signed with the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s, the West Bank was divided into three areas dubbed Area A, Area B, and Area C. Areas A and B are the Palestinian population centers. They were transferred to the control of the PA, which has ruled them as an autonomy for the past 23 years.
Israel retained control over Area C, which includes approximately 60 percent of the West Bank. Area C includes all of the Israeli communities and military bases in the West Bank. It also includes the international border with Jordan in the east, and the mountain ranges that control both central Israel and the eastern border. In other words, as Israeli Major General (retired) Gershon Hacohen set out in a detailed study of Area C published earlier this year, Israel cannot defend itself either from Palestinian terror threats or from foreign infiltration and invasion without Area C.
As the Regavim report recalls, in 2009, then Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad laid out a program for seizing Area C from Israel. The EU gave official, full-throated supportfor the program. As Regavim’s report exposes, the program was based on land seizures in tactical and strategic choke points, without which Israel will be hard-pressed to defend its citizens’ lives and its vital strategic needs. As the Regavim report showed, the EU and its member states fund massive Palestinian operations to seize lands in Area C both along major highway arteries and adjacent to and surrounding Israeli communities in Area C.
As Regavim outlines, the primary means the Palestinians use to seize vast tracts of land is agriculture. And the main Palestinian group involved in the operations is called the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. Like Samidoun and other major BDS operatives, according to the Regavim report, the UAWC is riven with ties to the PFLP.
According to the report, “Both the PFLP and the UAWC have attempted to obscure their close ties, in order to portray the civilian organization as an independent non-profit. Notwithstanding their efforts, there is clear evidence of their ideological and financial interdependence.”
The report cites an internal USAID document from 1993 which refers to the UAWC as “the agricultural wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
The affiliation with the U.S. and EU designated terror group is ongoing, Regavim reports. For instance, Jamil Muhamad Ismail Al Majdalawi, who served as the vice president of the UAWC in Gaza, is a senior PFLP commander. Regavim relays that he served as the PFLP commander in Gaza.
In 2013, Al Majdalawi served as PFLP’s representative to Fatah bodies. Fatah, the main faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization of which the PFLP is a member, is the PA ruling faction. Like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the PLFP in Gaza attacks Israel with rockets and mortars.
Then too, Bashar Al Khiri served as the President of the UAWC Advisory Board from 2005 until 2010. Before taking up his position at the UAWC, he was in an Israeli prison after being convicted on terror charges. In 2012, the Israel Law Center, an Israeli legal group that defends terrorism victims informed Australian authorities that two Australian NGOs were in violation of Australian and U.S. anti-terror laws due to their financing of the PFLP-tied UAWC.
According to the Regavim report, UAWC receives funds from Norwegian People’s Aid, a Norwegian government funded group. In the past, USAID viewed NPA as a partner in its projects on behalf of the Palestinians. However, the Regavim study reports, in 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted NPA on terrorism finance charges.
According to the Regavim report, “During the course of the trial, NPA admitted to supporting Iran, Hamas and a number of other terror organizations.”
According to the KGB archive published by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrochin in The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, beginning in 1970, the PFLP was largely controlled by the KGB. The KGB was drawn to the terror group, which was the pioneer of international passenger jet hijacking in part because of its Marxist-Leninist veneer. Today, using its leftist roots, the PFLP is pioneering the fusion of political warfare and terrorism as a means to legitimize both yhr PFLP itself, and its goal of annihilating Israel with the international left.
A case in point is the celebrity status that PFLP airplane hijacker Leila Khaled enjoys on the far left. In the early 1970s, Khaled carried out two airline hijackings. Last month Justin Rossomando pointed out in the Washington Examiner that leftist groups now view Khaled as a heroine. Her images are frequently featured in BDS propaganda on university campuses.
Rossomando notes that the Left’s iconography of Khaled shows that support for the PFLP “has gone mainstream elsewhere on the progressive Left.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Munayyer on an unrelated issue in February, illustrating how few degrees of separation there are between these trendy terrorists and actual elected officials. The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, whose leadership includes at least one Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine official and whose events frequently feature PFLP’s flag, has also thrown its support behind Ocasio-Cortez and fellow freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., posed for a photo with a Samidoun’s U.S. coordinator Joe Catron last month.
The Palestinian terrorist groups responsible for the ongoing terror campaign against Israel are not the only actors involved in the political war being waged against Israel in the West, and on the ground in Israel.
But their involvement in BDS campaigns has worked to legitimize the organizations themselves, their terrorist aggression against Israel and ultimately, their goal of annihilating the Jewish state in the eyes of a large cross section of the hard core, and increasingly influential, hard left in America.