The BDS movement and its role in the jihadist war against Israel.
Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
To defeat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, it is first necessary to understand it.
The BDS campaign is an extraordinary phenomenon.
Activists from US coast to coast robotically parrot the same lies, employ the same tactics of bullying, intimidating and silencing pro-Israel activists and speakers on campus after campus.
Their goals are uniform. They seek to silence pro-Israel voices in US academia as a means to destroy general public support for Israel in America.
And they seek to make Jew-hatred socially acceptable in elite circles in America for the first time since the Holocaust.
This month it was leftist MK Tzipi Livni’s turn to fall victim to BDS bigotry and defamation. During a public appearance at Harvard Law School, one of the heads of BDS movement at the school, Husam el-Qoulaq, asked her why she is “smelly.”
Qoulaq is the head of Students for Justice in Palestine at Harvard Law School.
SJP is the central engine of the BDS movement.
Its members are the ones who organize the “divest from Israel” resolutions routinely passed by ignorant or intimidated student representatives on college councils.
SJP members are the ones who regularly harass pro-Israel students and riot or otherwise disrupt pro-Israel events on campuses.
They are the ones who willingly and purposely engage in rank anti-Semitic demonization of Jews and Israel to normalize Jew-hatred in America.
Given SJP’s lead role in the campaign against Israel and American Jewry on college campuses, students and Jewish groups trying to combat the racist movement focus their attention on SJP.
But it works out that SJP doesn’t formally exist.
There is no nonprofit group called Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP doesn’t file tax forms. It doesn’t have a paper trail. In other words, SJP is a ghost organization, an illusion.
To bring it down you need to find its controllers.
The Canary Mission (canarymission.org) is a website managed by students and activists. It was formed “to document people and groups that are promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and the Jewish people, particularly on college campuses in North America.”
According to the website, SJP was founded in 2001 by UC Berkeley Prof. Hatem Bazian. Bazian’s organizational pedigree reads like the who’s who of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood front organizations in America.
Bazian fund-raised for a Hamas front group called KindHearts. In 2008, like a number of other Islamic groups that were found guilty of providing material support for terrorism in the framework of the Holy Land Foundation trial, KindHearts was forced to disband. KindHearts was found to have raised money for Hamas.
Another of Bazian’s former employers, the Islamic Association for Palestine, also disbanded after it was found guilty of funding Hamas.
According to the Canary Mission’s findings, Bazian founded SJP to distance the BDS movement from its Islamic masters. His idea was to brand it as a radical group that could easily collaborate with other radical groups on campus and so turn the radical establishment into an engine for anti-Israel activism.
Although Bazian went to great lengths to brand SJP as a non-Islamic movement, he had no intention of ceding control of the BDS movement to non-Islamic forces. To ensure control over SJP, and through it, the BDS movement as a whole, according to the Canary Mission, Bazian formed American Muslims for Palestine.
On April 19, during a hearing before the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, American Muslims for Palestine’s nature became clear.
Jonathan Schanzer served as a terrorism finance analyst for the Department of the Treasury from 2004 to 2007. He currently works as the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. In testimony before the subcommittee, Schanzer revealed that the heads of AMP are alumni of three Islamist groups that were banned following their convictions for terrorism financing during the course of the Holy Land Foundation trial that ended in 2008.
AMP’s leadership held key positions at the Holy Land Foundation, KindHearts and the Islamic Association for Palestine. These groups and their employees transferred millions of dollars to al-Qaida, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Although Schanzer could find no indication that AMP is continuing its predecessors’ practice of sending funds to foreign terrorist groups, he demonstrated how the heir of Hamas-USA now direct the BDS movement. Through AMP, they control SJP.
In his words, “AMP is a Chicago-based organization that is a leading driver of the BDS campaign.
AMP is arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine, which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States. AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and grants to SJP activists.”
Schanzer added, “AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country.”
The reason that SJP activists utilize the same tactics and rhetoric from sea to shining sea is because officials from the heir to disbanded terrorism funding groups tells them what to say and do. Everything from their “Apartheid Walls” and Die-Ins to their posters and slogans and tactic of shutting down pro-Israel events is dictated to them by AMP.
Whereas SJP doesn’t exist at all on paper, AMP’s existence is eyebrow-raising from a legal perspective.
AMP is not registered as a nonprofit so it is impossible to know its funding sources or the size of its donations, because it is not required to publicize them. As Schanzer explained, funds for AMP are raised through yet another organization called Americans for Justice in Palestine Education Foundation, or AJP, whose nature and behavior are also strange.
AJP’s chairman is Bazian. AJP and AMP share the same office in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hill.
Unlike AMP, AJP is a registered nonprofit. In its 2014 990 tax form, attached to Schanzer’s testimony, it reports raising in excess of $3.2 million between 2010 and 2014. But, in apparent breach of the law, AJP did not report how it spent the money or where it received the funds from.
Like AMP, AJP members worked in the past for the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association for Palestine and KindHearts. Indeed, most of them are the same people.
Not only do AMP-AFP fail to divulge their financing sources or outlays, they revel in their practice of operating at the edges of the law. At AMP’s 2014 annual conference in Chicago, participants were invited to “come and navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.”
Given SJP’s raging success, it isn’t a surprise that Bazian isn’t the only one claiming to have founded it. For instance, Senan Shaqdeh claims that he founded SJP. As Schanzer testified, Shaqdeh, who also lives in Chicago, is listed as a terrorist from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine by the PLO’s Ministry of Expatriate Affairs’ website.
Shaqdeh is also the coordinator of the Chicago- based US Coalition to Boycott Israel. In 2014, Shaqdeh traveled to Ramallah where he met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
The chairman of the US Coalition to Boycott Israel is Ghassan Barakat. According to Schanzer, Barakat is a PLO consular official in Chicago.
Like SJP, the Coalition is not a legal entity. It is not registered with state or local tax authorities. But given Barakat’s and Shaqdeh’s associations with the PLO and the PA, it is likely that it is funded by the US-funded PA.
Perhaps money from the PLO to SJP and other BDS outlets is transferred through an opaque New York state registered nonprofit called Wespac. Currently, a delegation of Palestinian students, organized by Bir Zeit University, paid for by Wespac and managed by SJP is traveling through the US lobbying students to boycott Israel.
Schanzer’s testimony should lead anti-BDS efforts in three directions. Two of them are legal, and one is political.
On the legal front, AMP and AJP’s commingling is curious, to say the least. Their failure to report the sources of their funding or how the funds are used appear, at a minimum, to be a breach of reporting requirements. These irregularities, along with the fact that officers of these organizations were in the past officers of organizations disbanded due to their provision of material support for terrorism, warrant criminal investigations by both tax authorities and counterterrorism investigators.
Unfortunately, shortly after he entered office in 2009, President Barack Obama’s then-attorney- general Eric Holder ordered the Department of Justice to stop investigating Islamist nonprofit groups. Accordingly, it is highly unlikely that any investigation will be conducted by federal agencies in the near future.
This leaves state, local and congressional authorities.
Since AMP and AJP are registered in Palos Hills, both Illinois tax authorities and law enforcement and Palos Hills authorities can open investigations into their operations. Moreover, Congress, which exposed the fact that both groups appear to be a natural continuation of banned terrorism-supporting organizations, is fully empowered to conduct congressional investigations of their operations, replete with the power to subpoena witnesses.
As for the operations of PLO officials in Chicago, their work is arguably in breach of the laws stipulating the permitted conduct of PLO officials in the US. Congress can investigate their behavior as well, and determine whether or not it constitutes a material breach of the PLO’s permitted actions in America, and so requires the US to cut off its relations with the terrorist group. Certainly the involvement of PA/PLO officials in an anti-Semitic hate campaign is grounds for a cut off of US aid to the PA.
On the political front, it is vital that Israel fight BDS as the most widespread form of anti-Semitism in North America. Unlike the situation in Europe, where BDS is largely an economic warfare campaign, in the US its goal is political. Its leaders are not interested in harming the Israeli economy per se. They are interested in cultivating anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel to pave the way for economic warfare and actual war against Israel.
Government ministers involved with the fight against BDS need to provide anti-BDS activists with information about SJP’s links to Hamas and with the PA. American Jewish organizations and activists need to call out college administrators when they say since they refuse to carry out divestment resolutions that they oppose BDS, even as they allow SJP to operate on their campuses and even fund the Hamas front group directly.
Schanzer’s testimony makes clear that the BDS movement is part and parcel of the jihadist war against Israel whose goal is its annihilation.
Both legally and politically, it needs to be fought accordingly.