A New Kind of War on Israel and the Jews Just Took Place at BDS Conference in San Diego: Something To Be Afraid Of
By Lee Kaplan
I attended undercover the west coast national planning conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation last September 19-21 in San Diego, California. The US Campaign is, in fact, the International Solidarity Movement, sometimes known as Palsolidarity, having been renamed and repackaged to serve as the main nerve center for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in the United States. Over 400 groups statewide dedicated to bringing down the Jewish state were represented.
A repetitive theme of this event was that truth was irrelevant if it stood in the way of destroying Israel or interfered with the BDS movement’s goals. Lying by omission was a favored tactic that presented just enough information to convey a false impression without telling the whole truth or story at this event. Where this tactic failed, outright lying was the method of the day.
Deconstructing the truth about Israel and its irredentist terrorist neighbors like Hamas to fool an unknowing American public was the main goal and, in terms of training new legions to go out and do that, the event was successful. This wasn’t about peace, but about de-legitimizing Israel to strengthen Hamas, nor was it about academic freedom or accurate scholasticism as it tried to suggest it was.
What also distinguished this planning event over previous years was that of the approximately 350 individual attendees and leaders, at least half were disaffected “Jews” who were dedicated to discrediting American Jewish and Christian institutions that support a Jewish state. The Arab front group Jewish Voice for Peace and the Jewish anti-Zionist Network were prominent promoters of schemes and propaganda working alongside Arab groups and BDS leaders to devise “direct actions” and other methods of supporting Hamas and Palestinian terrorist goals under the guise of doing “humanitarian work” and fighting an imaginary “apartheid” and “genocide.” Such atrocities are allegedly perpetrated by Israeli and American Jewish groups against “innocent” Arabs according to the conference. A few radical homosexuals, some Jewish, also attended the event from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) to lend support to Arab irredentist goals despite the Arab world’s persecution of gays.
At no time during the three day event was the idea of “peace” used in any context where Israel’s survival as being part of a two state solution conveyed. Instead, assorted student leaders from the Students for Justice in Palestine, assorted Arab and U.S. academics, a large contingent of retirees and even some Christian pastors all gathered to find out how best to boycott the Jews and de-legitimize Israel. Only here the word “Jew” was substituted with the word “Zionist”, followed by a plethora of false accusations, stale communist revolutionary slogans and assorted pseudo-academic anti-colonialist rhetoric so popular on college campuses. “Racism” was also mentioned frequently while advocating racism against Jews in Israel as part of the program. Hamas was scarcely mentioned, nor terrorism unless the words “Israeli terrorism” were used. Rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza were also not mentioned, save one remark from attorney Marjorie Cohn from the National Lawyers Guild who spoke about what she termed the “one single little rocket” that was fired on Israel from Gaza (there were actually over 3,000 and many Israelis, even Arabs, were killed).
Terrorist Enablers Led the Charge
The conference began on a Friday night with a panel that featured Rahim Kurwa of the UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine chapter; Rabab Abdulhadi, an Ethnic Studies “scholar” who is really more of an activist from San Francisco State University; Bill Mullen from the American Studies Association; and Marjorie Cohn from the National Lawyers Guild.
Kurwa introduced the audience to the event: “For what promises to be an amazing weekend of education and organization in solidarity work in the Palestinian struggle for liberation,” and said the event would serve for “the refreshing of Palestinian solidarity activism.” He recounted changes in the BDS Movement from 2009, 2010 and 2012 to 2014 today. In 2009, he said, “Professor William Robinson at UC Santa Barbara was called to task for using his university website to promote boycotting Israel outside his field of study and objections were raised then by Jewish groups.” Robinson managed to weather the campaign when the University decided he could do so as part of “academic freedom,” Kurwa said. Part of Robinson’s campaign back then, which Kurwa didn’t discuss, was his use of photos of Palestinian “victims” of Israeli “atrocities” placed alongside photos from the Holocaust. In fact, many of the photos of alleged Palestinian “victims” were actually photos of Israelis being beaten by Israeli police as they were deported from their homes in the West Bank, or staged scenes of Arabs that had no comparison with the Holocaust despite claims to the contrary:
Robinson photos above. Left, Jewish boy arrested by Nazis; Arab boy detained for throwing rocks at police. Jewish boy went to death camp, Arab boy turned over to parents. On right, Nazi policeman beats a Jew in Warsaw; Robinson said mounted policeman (to right) was a Jew beating Arab on ground; mounted policeman was Israeli Jewish polieman forcibly deporting another Jew from settlement in the West Bank as part of Oslo.
Kurwa declared also that in 2009 that Jewish groups had attacked UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies as being biased against Israel particularly during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. He declared these attacks as being engineered solely because the Jewish groups didn’t like the message rather than being due to academic bias or propaganda. “What they are doing today,” he said, “is asking for the same thing they asked for five years ago: for Middle East studies to stop producing scholarship.”
He went on to describe the disruption of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine by UC Irvine’s Muslim Students Association and some Students for Justice in Palestine as a “brief disruption” (the event was closed down) that the Orange County district attorney misrepresented from “an exercise in free speech to an illegal conspiratorial act” (a conspiracy was proven about the event in court) and various chapters of the SJP considered the action as part of a valid new system of “disrupting pro-Palestinian speakers throughout the UC system so they could not speak.” Kurwa accused the Orange County District Attorney of “twisting the law.”
Kurwa also alluded to the case of Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh in Chicago who is currently facing deportation hearings due to what he again termed “twisting” of immigration laws to punish her for being pro-Palestinian. He conveniently ignored the fact that Odeh murdered two men in a supermarket bombing in Israel in 1989 for which she was sentenced to twenty years in prison but paroled by Israel after ten. Odeh later lied on her entry papers to the United States saying she had never been convicted of a felony. To avoid the deportation, Odeh and her supporters fabricated claims of torture while she was in prison in Israel, and of her father being brought to her cell in front of 45 Israeli policemen and being forced to disrobe in front of her and coerced to rape her in front of everyone. This is her argument for not being deported and it is a lie, especially since people do not realize that if Odeh’s deportation orders go through, she would not be sent back to Israel but to Jordan, the country she left from to go to the United States and where she lived after her parole. Odeh’s plight was a recurring cause celebre at this conference to try and get her deportation canceled.
Flashing forward to the more current events, Kurwa also bemoaned the recent sacking of Professor Stephen Salaita from the University of Illinois at Champlain because of his outspoken support for Palestine which Kurwa also deemed an abuse of academic freedom. Salaita was in fact sacked before he begin a term at that university after it was determined he had made multiple anti-Semitic public remarks against Jews and declared Israel an “apartheid state” when it is in fact the only state in the Middle East that does not practice apartheid. Given that the entire conference was based on half-truths and at times outright lies to forward its destroy- Israel- at- all -costs agenda, it’s not much of a surprise that support for Salaita would be such a strong issue also at this event. The attendees were encouraged by Kurwa, “to find Professor Salaita a job someplace, somehow, so he could continue his work” and he, too, was named a cause celebre for those in attendance.
Next up to speak was Rabab Abdulhadi of SFSU. Abdulahdi, as a Professor of Ethnic Studies has had a career as a pro-Palestinian activist against Israel and the US on the California taxpayer’s dime and recently came under criticism for spending $7,000 of California tax dollars on a trip to the Middle East to “show solidarity” and meet with PFLP terrorist Laila Khaled. Khaled was one of the first terrorists to start airplane hijacking and is under house arrest in Jordan.
Abdulhadi devoted part of her speech to attacking AMCHA and Stand With Us campus, two Pro-Israel advocacy groups that exposed Abdulhadi’s expenditures and statements in support of groups like Hamas. She thanked the conference organizers for “…the amazing support they have shown me after I have been attacked by the AMCHA Initiative campaign. It could not have happened without you.” Abdulhadi accused such groups of violating “academic freedom” and her right to free speech.
Abdulhadi complained of what she termed a “collection of attacks” that she alleged were from pro-Israel groups during the war on Gaza “and what this means to us in terms of repression.”
Citing attacks on “pro-Palestinian students and myself” she alleged took place not only at San Francisco State, she elaborated a list of other colleges to include “UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, San Jose State, UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Vermont, Northeastern, Northwestern, University of Michigan, NYU, Brooklyn College and elsewhere…” that she said were conducted by AMCHA, Stand With Us, Simon Wiesenthal and other pro-Jewish groups as being further examples of “a campaign of repression” and “denials of academic freedom.”
She and the other speakers on the panel scoffed at requests by such pro-Israel groups for “civility” from pro-Palestinian and BDS groups on campuses, such requests deemed as being “merely attempts to stifle debate.” This flew in the face of numerous physical attacks on pro-Israel students, even non-Jews, across the country by BDS groups.
She continued, “These attacks [by pro-Israel groups] are part of a very long history of repression and I’d like to send some as old as myself back to the Los Angeles 8 who were attacked by President Bush who then failed in trying to intimidate debate.” The LA 8 were prosecuted over twenty years ago for deportations after the FBI found fundraising and connections from them to the PFLP terrorist group, the same one Leila Khaled belongs to. Abdulhadi then said the government “…wanted to build internment camps for the citizens of 7 Arab countries and Iran and put people like the Japanese during World War II in them.”
Abdulhadi went on to praise the current SFSU President who she maintained in private had assured her he would never let groups like AMCHA or Stand with Us deny her “academic freedom” whereas “…the previous president had sought to control my behavior.” She continued adamantly, “I have a right to spend public tax dollars to teach social justice if I want to.”
She then went into a litany of revolutionary dialog, declaring Israel guilty of colonialism, an example of “white settlers taking advantage of an indigenous population.” She even included the situation in Ferguson as an example of where what the termed the indigenous black population was being abused by “the white settler community and the police department”—a rather silly statement. Incredibly, she also said the police officer who slew Michael Brown had been trained by Israel ( a complete lie) and complained about the “militarization” of the police “as a way of taking advantage of the haves and have- nots.”
She extended this idea to the recent war in Gaza as an example of the “haves” (Israel) taking advantage of the “have-nots” (the Palestinians). But then she claimed the Palestinians would rather live under bombardment by the Israelis and “stand tall” than capitulate to the Israeli government and she predicted a Third Intifada in the near future. She alluded to Palestinian cooperation with the ANC in fighting South African apartheid from SFSU in the 80’s (Jewish students did this also back then) and complained pointedly about the arrest of Sami al-Arian who was the US head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in 2001, as if this was some form of oppression (Al-Arian was responsible for the deaths of over 100 people including some Americans through terrorist attacks). She attributed these events to racism by the “Zionists.” She declared in spite of setbacks like the war in Gaza and against BDS that their movement “…is more legitimate today for Palestinians than it ever was.” Abdulhadi, who went to the Middle East to show “solidarity” with a PFLP terrorist and consistently spoke of Palestinians aligning themselves with the likes of Hamas, concluded her speech by saying the BDS movement that day would mean “ ‘Never Again’ for anyone,” referring to Jewish resolve against another Holocaust. Considering her support for groups and individuals whose charter and verbiage call for the annihilation of all world Jewry, her concluding remarks were surreal.
Rabab Abdulhadi PFLP Terrorist Leila Khaled
The evening concluded with Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild, who, in addition to her shoddy math about rocket attacks on Israel, gave a long lecture on how BDS and anti-Israel advocates on campus could preserve their right to speak on campus, explaining what was legal and what was not legal. A pamphlet was also circulated to everyone in attendance. It was mentioned that some campuses had tried to “silence” pro-Palestinian speakers and she explained the law to everyone to see they would not be “silenced.” She mentioned earlier in the evening that she and the NLG were excoriated by Alan Dershowitz, an Israel supporter, for dishonesty and use of the law to promote BDS in America . She stated that she was very proud of Dershowitz’s vituperation against her. “I took it as a badge of honor,” she said.
Next up was Bill Mullen, a history professor and faculty advisor to SJP at Purdue. Mullen spoke about the Academic Studies Association’s (ASA’s) recent vote to boycott Israeli academics and programs. Mullen was highly critical and derisive of pro-Israel groups who opposed this, citing his own interpretation of academic freedom. According to Mullen, such opposition groups called for “civility” in academia when it came to discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict, Mullen declaring such requests an attempt to control unpopular ideas from the pro-Palestinian camp that would hinder critical thinking. Actually, such “civility” is supposed to mean not lying about Israeli history and actions (a frequent tactic at this conference also) or condoning terrorist groups and their tactics (such as defining terrorism as “legitimate resistance.”). Mullen further suggested it referred only to legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies and was just an effort to indoctrinate students from learning for themselves. He didn’t bother to mention that the vote and lobbying for this boycott activity in the ASA was carried out by Noura Erekat and some Palestinian plants along with some 80 Arab professors in the ASA who promote BDS and whose sole purpose of being there was to be a stacked deck to push for a boycott of Israeli institutions and to do so by misrepresentation if need be. Noura Erekat is the niece Saeb Erekat, Arafat’s second-in-command of the PLO and no slouch when it comes to lying about Israel committing atrocities against Arabs (Saeb claimed, for example, that the entire city of Jenin and its Arab population were wiped out by Israel; as a result he was banned from several television stations for doing so). In keeping with the tactic of lying by omission, Mullen failed to point out that boycotting Israeli academics and professors, rather than being an exercise in academic freedom was in fact a way to deny academic freedom to the pro-Israel camp by silencing anything they had to say and preventing them from proving when the BDS advocates in the ASA were lying. Documentation from the US Campaign who staged this conference, documentation that is generally fraudulent or leaves out details, was used as a basis for a petition to boycott Israel from within the ASA.
Bill Mullen Noura Erekat
The evening concluded with Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild, who, in addition to her shoddy math about rocket attacks on Israel, gave a long lecture on how BDS and anti-Israel advocates on campus could preserve their right to speak on campus, explaining what was legal and what was not legal. A pamphlet was also circulated to everyone in attendance. It was mentioned that some campuses had tried to “silence” pro-Palestinian speakers and she explained the law to everyone to see they would not be “silenced.” She mentioned earlier in the evening that she and the NLG were excoriated by Alan Desrhowitz, an Israel supporter, for dishonesty and use of the law to promote BDS in America . She stated that she was very proud of Dershowitz’s vituperation against her. “I took it as a badge of honor,” she said.
Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild
THE BREAKOUT AND PLANNING SESSIONS
Saturday was devoted to revolving sessions that covered different planning and strategies to promote BDS against Israel in the United States.
The morning session was titled Mainstreaming BDS & Connecting Struggles and featured several speakers, but notably Suhad Khatib from the US Campaign and Gabriel Schivone, a “youth organizer” with UNIDOS intelligence-based ethnic studies group in Tucson, AZ. This plenary was to introduce a recurring theme throughout the conference that the BDS movement can find greater numbers and alliances by reaching out in cooperation with other activist groups, particularly ones that are anti-U.S. and see America as a colonialist oppressor. It was pointed out, for example, that Elbit systems, an Israeli company held the contract for surveillance technology along the U.S.-Mexican border and also declared an example of the militarization of police and immigration forces in the United States.
An example of a synergistic approach to BDS was suggested utilizing the people from both BDS and immigration groups would be to coordinate riots as like occur every Friday in the villages in the West Bank in the Holy Land to happen at the same time with similar ones at the U.S.-Mexican border to point out the need for BDS. G48, a British firm that provided prison services in Israel, was said to have pulled out of Israel as a result of the BDS movement tying itself to various “social justice” groups in the UK. Likewise, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson was cited as another opportunity to promote BDS against Israel in the United States and that ‘similar tactics’ could be used to justify violence, including the “dehumanization of victims and corporate media distortions of reality”. It was claimed again that a member of the St. Louis County Police Department who had killed Michael Brown had trained in Israel in the past, so as to tie Israeli complicity into the Brown shooting. Nobody mentioned that Brown was shot by an officer from the Ferguson police department who had nothing to do with Israel and Michael Brown was not shot by anyone in the St. Louis County Police Department. Not to be deterred by the truth, a week after this conference, an email went out from the US Campaign and from its national leader, Anna Baltzer, calling for a “Palestinian contingent” to be sent to Ferguson to try and make the rioting and Brown killing part of the BDS agenda and connecting it to work for “Palestinian rights” by linking it with other movements for justice, even the environment. Attendees were told how to approach these environmental or racial groups and convince them the BDS movement would help them and that both movements should join together in teamwork to “fight oppression”.
As an example, the Block the Boats campaign against the Zim corporation was mentioned, because it got several longshoremen to refuse to unload the Israeli cargo ships for four days in two major ports. It was alleged the workers lost their income for those days because they believed they were fighting apartheid and helping the human rights of the Palestinians. The fact that Israel is the only state in the Middle East that does NOT practice apartheid and extends full civil rights to all its Arab citizens would be unknown to the stevedores. This is an example why lying by omission is so successful.
Suhad Khatib Anna Baltzer
It is easy to imagine why the BDS advocates are able to do this. Since they have a number of “Jews” who are active in their movement, they can approach a union local alongside some union members who may be invited along with and belong to socialist action groups who can introduce them to each other such as International ANSWER. They tell the other union workers that Israel is an apartheid state like South Africa was in the 1980’s (these union locals were involved in fighting apartheid in South Africa back then). They regale the current membership with tales of Israeli atrocities, such as attacks on children or lie to them about Arabs being discriminated against in Israel like it used to be in South Africa. It’s not true, but they convince the workers to forego some days of work to help the Palestinian cause and for “human rights”. In turn, the pro-Palestinian activists promise to turn out for any union protests or actions where they might be needed. Conference attendees were told to look beyond their own immediate needs as Palestinian activists to understand and express sympathy for these other social justice movements, to suggest a unity in fighting oppression. By having so-called “Jews” advocating to boycott other Jews in Israel because they are allegedly “oppressing” an Arab minority then doesn’t seem unreasonable. The hardcore unionists who may belong to communist-inspired union groups or socialist action leagues are more than willing to go along.
The next seminar was titled “Exposing the 1% & Israel’s Agenda to Silence Criticism & Promote Anti-Muslim & Anti-Arab Racism; Organizing Against the Backlash In Ways to Strengthen Our Movement, Resident Joint Struggle, and Weaken Our Opposition.” The two key speakers at this event were “Jews” who claimed to represent the 98% or the “poor”, the rest of “us” as were allegedly represented at the Occupy Movement events of last year in the US. The presentation was led by Max Geller , the leader of the Northeastern University chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine and Sara Kershnar, founder of the “International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.”
Geller, in keeping with the tactic of lying by omission, introduced himself as an oppressed Jewish student who was briefly expelled from Northeastern University merely for demonstrating on behalf of the poor oppressed Palestinians. He was reinstated after his university was sued by the ACLU. The uninitiated might believe he was unfairly treated. What he never told his audience was that he was expelled by Northeastern after he had posed for photographs with a machine gun in support of Palestinian terrorist groups in the West Bank. The University felt this was conduct unbecoming one of their students. The ACLU argued it was merely an exercise in free speech. Not wishing to be drawn into an expensive drawn out lawsuit he was readmitted by the University. “Can someone take a photograph of me to show my mother?, he asked from the podium, clearly proud to be the center of attention, the token Jew leading the charge against the Jews in the Middle East. Sara Kershnar followed him and gave a presentation that outlined an interview of the national funding sources for pro-Israel activism in the United States from top to bottom that she said were well-funded to smear and lie about the Palestinian movement. She placed on a board a list of Jewish philanthropies such as the Koret Foundation, the Koch Brothers and others, about twelve of them, that she said provide the bulk of the funding, “…the 1%” she claimed. Then she presented a secondary list that began with Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum, the Israel Project and Stand With Us that she said were doled out funds to distribute on lower levels to deal with Palestinian activism. Motioning to her audience she said “most of you as individuals had no doubt on a personal level been the targets of such funding by such groups as Stand With Us.” They concluded with a discussion on how to expose these organizations to the public as being behind the “backlash” against BDS and existing to promote the oppression of the disadvantaged the BDS movement was allegedly protecting.
Thus, starving the Jews out in the Middle East through boycotts and divestments is something these activists sought to promote “justice” both on and off campus in America. At the same time, exposing the wealthy financial support behind the pro-Israel movement to the public was one way they sought to show who the “exploiters” are–rich Jews and their institutions. While nobody said this directly, my initial interpretation of this event was the organizers wanted to show the attendees how those “rich Jews,” the 1%, are behind the alleged oppression of the poor Palestinians and other groups needing “social justice.” This way, other social justice movements in the United States could be convinced it was their duty to stop them by supporting the Palestinian cause through BDS. As mentioned, no mention was made of Hamas and the millions of dollars its leadership has stolen in foreign aid money even from its own people. In other words, Gazans are to be the victims of the “rich Jews,” so much so that of the 1% per cent who are Jews even some among them as at this conference, are supporting BDS.
Max Geller in West Bank Sara Kershnar
The next session was a meeting of the Students for Justice (SJP) in Palestine-West
The SJP is said to be on over 80 campuses in the United States. In the past, these chapters usually worked independently of each other with no centralized control. Now the SJP has created both a West Coast central headquarters as well as a National headquarters to coordinate these groups so actions can happen simultaneously across the country and information and resources can be shared and funds raised. Divestment would be the main strategy of SJP chapters working the BDS movement on their campuses. This convention section allowed SJP students to meet each other and network, and tied in with another session titled “Resisting the McCarthysim on Campus: Know Your Rights and Understanding Trends in Palestinian Organizing. Led by Liz Jackson, of Palestine Legal Support, a new legal arm set up to defend BDS and anti-Israel activism on campuses that used to be done mainly by the National Lawyers Guild and sometimes the ACLU. The other spokespeople were from the UCLA SJP and as usual one “Jewish” representative from the Jewish Voice for Peace, a largely Marxist front group that strongly supports BDS against Israel. This session declared that Palestinian free speech was under attack, unfairly, on many campuses merely for criticizing Israel. To hear it told at this event, there are no mock checkpoints where students are accosted on campus on their way to class then told this is common practice against Arabs in the Holy Land, or that IDF soldiers for no reason harass innocent Arabs, even children, nor reenactment scenes of pregnant women being molested and beaten and even raped by IDF soldiers as part of street theater. Some campuses have created security fees to silence such actions it was maintained. This has happened because some of these street theater actions turn violent at times and pro-Israel students on campuses have been called “baby killers” who engage in a type of “McCarthyism”.
Such discussions sought to teach attendees how to fight back against the administrations in their colleges. This included a follow-up on the legal information presented the first day as a pamphlet was again passed out defining what pro-BDS demonstrators may legally do to get their messages across. This event at te conference ran simultaneously with another meeting given by Al Awda New York where participants discussed doing both legal and illegal direct actions such as de-shelving Israeli products in private shops without paying for them, actions that were little more than criminal vandalism.
THE USE OF VIOLENT IMAGERY AND CHILDREN FOR PROPAGANDA
Another important break out event was held titled “Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child. A Campaign Model for Local Advocacy Palestinian Rights.”
The International Solidarity Movement and Hamas hit upon a plan last year of suggesting that Israel abuses Palestinian children and even rapes them. This idea was deemed very effective in trying to turn American audiences, even Jews, against the Jewish state and helps to promote BDS. This session featured speakers Jennifer Bing from the American Friends Service Committee, Lynn Pollack, another token Jew from the Jewish Voice for Peace and a new player, Brad Parker, who introduced himself as an attorney from the newly formed NGO sub chapter Defence of Children International-Palestine (DCI) that is based in Chicago.
DCI was recently involved in a fraudulent video in Israel that was designed to copy the Mohammad al Durrah video from years earlier that was fabricated to suggest Israelis were murdering innocent Palestinian children. During some Nakba demonstrations (Nakba being a memorial to the catastrophe of the founding of Israel) outside Ofer Prison inside Israel, a fifteen-year-old Palestinian boy walking home from school was allegedly shot to death for no reason by the IDF. The scene was filmed and flashed all over the world. The film was distributed by Defence for Children International as proof of Israelis shooting innocent Palestinian children. It was subsequently proven after footage was obtained from a nearby security camera at the scene that the perpetrators missed was that the entire event was staged, with a botched scene repositioned and reshot to fake the event. This even became a scandal in Israel but the faked scene had already made its way around the world.
Brad Parker, introduced his new NGO division at this meeting which was clearly designed to enflame the audience. Just prior to discussing the shooting at this event, he and his colleagues beamed on a screen some written accusations of abominable torture by Israelis of Rasmeah Odeh who had been discussed earlier at the conference including the accusation that Israeli police had tried to force her father to rape her in prison in front of 45 people. These accusations were clearly not credible, but they served to rile up the audience for Parker who then segued to a tale of a Palestinian “child” who DCI had allegedly come to defend. According to him, “the Israeli police entered an Arab family home in the middle of the night and demanded of the parents to see the boy who lived there. The boy was awakened by his parents and then seized by the soldiers and removed to an interrogation center operated by the police which was a shipping container” such as found on ships. The boy was allegedly “…not allowed to see or speak to his parents. After being physically abused and tortured, the boy was then transferred to a different police interrogation center inside Israel where he was further tortured” to confess. Only after Parker completed his tale did he disclose the “boy” was in fact sixteen-years-old and was arrested for throwing a rock at a passing car. Another Palestinian boy had implicated him in the stone throwing incident. “That’s not good enough,” Parker said. He then went on to claim that Arab children are routinely kidnapped by the Israeli authorities, tortured and even raped and not allowed to see their parents while in custody.
As usual, the story was a lie and also conveyed only enough information to convey a false impression. Parker, of course, didn’t name the boy or the date of this event and for good reason: A 25 year-old Israeli father, Asher Palmer, and his infant son were both killed on a West Bank highway by stoning while driving by just such “children” recently. Was this the “child” who did that? The audience wouldn’t even know about the Israeli father and infant killed.
The Israeli border police do stage arrests in the middle of the night, but the reason for this is because when they attempt to arrest individuals such as this during the day the entire village surrounds them and tries to prevent the police from taking the perpetrator into custody and a riot can ensue. Parents are allowed to accompany their minor children on arrests, so, in that case, Parker was telling a complete lie. And nobody tortures children or even adults because Israel outlawed torture the same as the United States did many years ago. If such a child had been tortured, he and his parents could bring charges against the police and get free legal help from NGO’s like DCI-Palestine; Israeli courts are very sympathetic to Arabs arrested in the Territories. Parker and his colleagues referred the attendees to his new NGO’s website that he mentioned would be launched officially from Chicago. It was unclear if DCI-Palestine is still operating in Israel or the PA.
Just before the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, one of their propaganda tactics was to claim the Poles were raping and abusing German women and children. This was the same propaganda tactic repeated by Parker. It apparently worked since one middle aged woman in the audience became extremely agitated and blurted out, “Why do they do such disgusting things? This is terrible!” Struck by her ardor, Parker hesitated for a moment for an answer, then said, “It’s the occupation.” Satisfied with such a response having worked, he continued, “They like to humiliate the Arabs any way they can.” When I asked about the faked video of a boy being shot by the IDF, Parker simply said, “I’ve seen the dead body.” When I said the outtakes clearly showed the entire scene was staged and there was no blood, and could easily show this was no killing by the IDF like in the Mohammed Al-Durrah incident, the audience shouted me down. The next morning at breakfast one of the attendees, an activist from Oregon, told me that any time I encountered conflicting information about what was said at the conference from outsiders, or at debates, to simply say the Israelis made things up and were not to be believed.
Smaller discussion groups were held later to discuss ways to boycott corporations like Hewlett Packard and Veolia. HP was said to violate human rights because it provides identity cards that help speed Palestinian Authority workers through the checkpoints to work in Israel. Veolia was said to have been a BDS victory because the BDS movement accused them of running buses like in the Jim Crow South that supposedly discriminated against the Arab workers. Veolia reported they sold off their bus services as a business decision solely unrelated to the BDS nonsense, nevertheless, the U.S. Campaign’s leader, Anna Baltzer, deemed this a major victory for the BDS movement. Ironically, she then claimed that when companies like Veolia sell off assets they usually repurchase them under new names and she insisted the BDS movement would still pursue Veolia in any case because it provides clean water to the settlements in the West Bank and the Jerusalem Light Rail that is extremely popular among Arab workers. Of those organizers attacking Hewlett Packard, the leader was a woman from Jewish Voice for Peace in Los Angeles, former TV actress Estee Chandler and another elderly Jewish woman from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) lent support. Chandler frequently sends out emails supporting a Holocaust denier and Palestinian organizations that call for the complete destruction of Israel. Clearly neither of them had been to the West Bank to see Veolia’s popularity among the Arab population there and how their BDS activities hurt the Arabs more than Israelis.
Of note was one session that introduced a speech by Mike Coogan, the U.S. Campaign’s “Legislative Coordinator” who boasted he lobbies in Congress and who took credit for killing or delaying AIPAC legislation. As a 501 c3 educational nonprofit, the U.S. Campaign is not allowed to lobby congress. But, then again engaging in illegal or marginally legal activities is de rigueur for the U.S. Campaign. The IRS criminal investigations division is, however, looking into their activities even now due to a misuse of their nonprofit status.
Mike Coogan. “Legislative coordinator”
Any business or philanthropy operated by or the help Israel was smeared with tales of false atrocities or thefts from Arabs at these sessions. The Jewish National Fund, operating since 1903, was accused of “stealing land from Arabs” and “destroying Arab trees to damage the environment.” The fact is the JNF was set up to purchase land legally to help settle Jewish refugees in the Jewish national homeland and never stole land from anyone during its entire existence. And Israel plants more trees than any other country in the world yet the speakers at the conference told everyone the opposite. The JNF was to be designated as a recurring target using such misrepresentations along with false accusations of abusing and raping Arab children by Israelis. This was to be the game plan for the coming year.
One of the major conference discussions took place toward the end of the event on Sunday that involved a new tactic to attack Israel and its Jews. Titled “Block the Boat: A West Coast response to the Call for BDS and to Stop the Attack on Gaza,” it introduced the main organizers of a burgeoning program of trying to prevent ships from Israel’s Zim shipping line from unloading at western ports in the United States. Initiated by Reem Assil of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) in San Francisco and Sara Kershnar of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network at Oakland ports, who were then joined by Garrick Ruiz, a Latino and “long time Palestinian activist” with BDS-LA to organize at L.A. and Long Beach ports, the program was deemed very successful. Ahlam Muhtaseb from Al Awda-San Diego, the hosting member group for this conference of the BDS movement, finished out the panel. Al Awda means “the return” and the openly anti-Semitic group advocates taking all of Israel back from the Jews and advocates the complete dismantling the Jewish state to create “Palestine.”
These four panelists described how they had persuaded a local longshoreman’s union to refuse to unload the Israeli ships in Oakland, California and how this had also spread via social networks on the Internet to include docks in Los Angeles and Long Beach through other southern California union locals too. The speakers boasted of delaying the unloading of Zim ships for hours in Tacoma and planning actions in Seattle also. It was explained that by having radicals from L.A.-based communist groups who had allied with AROC they were amazed at how successful they were in convincing union longshoreman to support Hamas in Gaza during the last war there and since. Communist or radical socialist dialog was part of the discussion.
Reem Assil went on to explain how Stop the Boats is “an opportunity for AROC to build power in our community against the anti-Arab social economy” and provides “a real clear knowledge of capitalism and its exploitation of labor. It’s an opportunity for us to do longer term organizing between labor and the community,” she said.
By having “Jewish” spokespeople approach the union locals and telling them Israel is an apartheid state (when it is the only state in the Middle East that does not practice apartheid), the activists managed to get working people to even forego their incomes for four days by refusing to unload the ships. Through social media they also enlisted crowds of anarchists and radicals across California from radical Latino and other groups to join the blockade.
Zim was described by Ahlam Muhtaseb as a national business controlled by Israel that had brought Jews to the Holy Land since 1947 and as an excellent target to wreck the Israeli economy and aid Gaza, which is in fact to aid Hamas. “The very first thing when you look at Zim is that it was involved in the ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestine,” she said. “It transported hundreds of thousands of Jews into Palestine. Today it is very involved in the transport of ammunition and weapons and is the 10th largest transport service in the world which makes it vital to Israel and a good target.”
The program was deemed so successful that plans were discussed by Sara Kershnar to bring the movement to east coast ports and even New Orleans in the future as a means of ruining the Israeli economy.
Reem Assil continued, “We’re really on a high. It’s grown since August 16th. The importance of the ports is nothing new for social justice movements. We see the ports as one of epitomes of creative activism through the flow of commerce. Historically, we always thought labor was a very important part of our story, particularly with Oakland and the International Longshoreman’s Workers Union (ILWU) when we’ve seen them stand against human rights violations and with social justice movements.”
Reem Assil of AROC
One thing that was frightening about this event was the continual lying and misrepresentation that was not to serve to make peace in the Middle East, but rather to assist Hamas and the PLO in an endless economic war of ultimately bringing down the Jewish state completely. Those who were attending, even the “Jews,” were passionate about destroying Israel by any means necessary. It is this undying passion to destroy the Jewish state by people such those who produced and attended this conference that seems so much more powerful than that of people who want to see Israel survive. During a new session that discussed pro-Israel financing, Sara Kershnar pointed out how the Reut Institute had warned that the continual de-legitimization of Israel posed more of a threat to Israel’s long term existence than any military threat. This means that the organizers at this conference know this and feel time is on their side and that they can lie and use propaganda tactics in endless arrays to undermine Israel’s existence for terrorist groups like Hamas. Accusations such as “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” can be hurled about to unknowing audiences even though the Arab population inside Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank has grown 10,000 per cent since 1948.
All the while they think they can make people think they are doing “humanitarian” work when they are really supporting fascism and anti-Semitism. The Jews among them see their Jewish ancestry as a tool to be used to fool people into supporting enemies of the Jewish people and of democracy, and judging by their deconstruction of the truth, they are succeeding more and more as the years go by. The coming years will be sure to be filled with false accusations of children murdered and raped by Israel, and of persecution of black Americans as being partly the result of doing business with Israel so as to align black Americans against the Jewish state (Anna Baltzer has sent out an email asking for a “Palestine contingent” to join the rioters and protestors in Ferguson after the conference). All of this to promote real apartheid against Jews in the Middle East on behalf of Hamas while hopefully tricking Americans, some even Jewish, to think they are doing just the opposite.
In keeping up the deception the Stop the Boat campaign also is hurting the Palestinian population back in Gaza and the West Bank. Unreported in mainstream media is the fact that Israel’s business newspaper, the Globes, reported as far back as 2009 that Israeli firms export 2.7 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of Israeli goods a year to the PA and Gaza to the general Palestinian population. The attacks on the Zim shipments are in part a way to embarrass the Palestinian Authority government for cooperating with Israel and to keep the war roiling forever on behalf of the BDS leadership. BDS movement leaders in the US have their own careers and agendas tied to continuing endless and useless war while claiming they are for peace. Jewish philanthropic organizations would do well to recognize this genuine threat and do as much as possible to stop these vicious people who are not promoting peace, but rather a new type of warfare that doesn’t even benefit the Palestinian people in the Holy Land.
As assaults continue on US campuses, as Jewish and Israeli academics find themselves barred from academic events, as people loot and burn in Ferguson and fighting continues in the Middle East occasionally spilling over to US campuses, we can all be sure the BDS movement organized by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation will be behind most of it.
Garrick Ruiz Ahlam Muhtaseb of Al Awda