The BDS Movement Maintains Close Contact with Terrorists

Not itself a formal organization, the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS) consists of a loose network of groups that support its cause. A number of these, write Jonathan Schanzer and Kate Havard, have close ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), officially considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997:

Rasmea Odeh, a now-infamous PFLP terrorist who was involved in the bombing of an Israeli supermarket in 1969 . . . is now a cause célèbre for BDS activists in the United States. Boycott advocates have rallied to her defense, raising funds for her while she faces prosecution in the U.S. for immigration fraud (for lying about her time in prison). Odeh’s boosters include BDS-supporting groups like Palestine Legal, Jewish Voice for Peace, and American Muslims for Palestine. . . .

The BDS campaign in the United States broadly identifies itself as a nonviolent social-justice movement. But, its connections to the PFLP, a decidedly violent group, are troubling. Founded in 1967 as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary organization by George Habash, the PFLP was known for a series of plane hijackings in the late 1960s and 70s. [Its members also] gunned down civilians and hired assassins to massacre passengers at Israel’s Lod airport in 1970. . . .

In 2011, two PFLP members carried out the murder of a family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar (including a three-month-old infant). They were responsible for a 2014 shooting in west Jerusalem that killed five and wounded eight. . . .

Recently, the PFLP sent its most famous member, the first woman hijacker in history, Leila Khaled, on speaking tours worldwide. In April 2016, she visited the German organization Falestin Beytona, the offices of the Communist party of Sweden in Gothenburg, and the Austrian-Arab Cultural Center in Vienna—all organizations that support BDS. Khaled was also the guest of the BDS movement of South Africa in 2015.

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More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror, PFLP

 

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy