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Palestine Solidarity Movment: Setting the Record Straight


Kicked Off the Rutgers Campus

Didn't Rutgers University refuse to host this conference because of the Palestine Solidarity Movement's political positions?

Like many radical left groups, this one quarrels. In 2004, it held two conferences, one at a Ramada Inn near Rutgers and the other at Ohio State. Neither group went so far as to repudiate the other. Most of the speakers and many participants appeared at both conferences. This year the group is back together.

University administrators at Rutgers are obliged to claim that it was a paperwork snafu that pushed the meeting off campus because the University's own rules stipulate that there be no control on what student groups do, unless they violate the law. The Palestine Solidarity Movement speaks in favor of suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism as a strategy, it does not carry out terror attacks. Although the organizer of the Second National Conference held at U. Mich. wrote of his desire to "strap a bomb to one's chest and kill," because he did not actually do so he violated no law. (Fadi Kiblawi, Al-Risalah, Spring Edition II, June 24, 2001)

Charlotte Kates, leader of the New Jersey chapter of the ISM and organizer of the ISM's third National Convention, scheduled to take place on the Rutgers campus from October 10-12, 2003 explained the PSM's support for suicide bombing. "We support Palestinians' right to resist occupation and oppression, and do not feel that it is our place as a solidarity movement to dictate tactics of resistance to the Palestinian people. Why is there something particularly horrible about 'suicide bombing' - except for the extreme dedication conveyed in the resistance fighter's willingness to use his or her own body to fight?" (Ref. 1)

Because it is not illegal to voice support for the suicide bombing of civilians, had the Rutgers President explained that he was kicking the conference off campus because it condones suicide bombing, he would have opened the University up to a law suit for violating its own laws.

No one who was watching events in New Jersey doubted that if this had been the National Chess Conference or the Future Famers of America, the administrators would have helped them with their paperwork and found a way to let the meeting go forward. Certainly, that was the understanding of New Jersey Solidarity, which issued angry statements (Ref. 2):

"We refuse to be silenced," declared Charlotte Kates, conference organizer and second year student at Rutgers School of Law. "We will hold our conference wherever we must--in a hotel, in a park, whatever. The Palestinian people have continued to resist despite incredible and overwhelming force displayed against them--and we owe them nothing less than to refuse to be silenced."

"No matter what happens we are going to Rutgers. 'Israel Inspires' or not, neo-cons or not, Rutgers president or not. We will continue to organize for Palestine and for justice for everyone."

The following appeared on the New Jersey Solidarity webpage (Ref. 3, as retrieved on Jul 5, 2004):

In canceling this widely supported conference throughout North America, the university administration has trampled on constitutional rights, muted free speech, and has betrayed its pledge to fairness and education.

This is an attack on peace and justice activists everywhere. It is an attack on our society as a whole and on our right to free expression and assembly.

But the university administration has gone much farther, and has taken a shameful overt political stand in favor of Israeli Apartheid. As the university cancels the Palestine conference, it is simultaneously supporting an overarching pro-Israel program called "Israel Inspires", organized by the likes of AIPAC and Hillel International along with others, which will be held at Rutgers to "neutralize the Palestinian movement".

New Jersey's newspaper of record, the Star-Ledger, also understood the event as a political decision by Rutgers President McCormick. An article on Saturday, September 13, 2003, by Kelly Heyboer of the Star-Ledger staff carried the headline: Pro-Palestine rally is booted off Rutgers.

Chanting "Kill The Jews!"

Did conference attendees shout "Kill the Jews" when they met at the University of Michigan?

Eyewitness accounts establish that "Kill the Jews" was chanted at the Second National Conference at the University of Michigan in 2002. One student who was present and heard the chanting wrote out and signed an affadavit because he was disturbed by the immediate attempt by the Solidarity Movement to rewrite history and deny that this frightening incident had, in fact, occurred. The affadavit can be viewed at Ref. 4.

Kill the Jews, or, Chrad al Yahood, was chanted in Arabic. This is the chant traditionally shouted by Arab mobs as they enter Jewish neighborhoods to actually kill Jews. It is familiar to many Jews who have watched Arab television in Israel and elsewhere since it is regularly chanted at demonstrations.

Another witness was Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, a highly regarded rabbi who has a large congregation in Washington, DC. Here is his description of PSM conferences at which he was present (Ref. 5 contains the original Microsoft Word file).

Overpowering the Hate -- A First-Hand Account of the PSM Conference at Ohio State University

by Shmuel Herzfeld
November 10, 2003

As the sun began to set on Friday signaling the onset of Shabbat, we found ourselves at Ohio State University, one of the largest and most respected universities in America. We stood in the middle of a rally sponsored by the student group Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM). Using a microphone to amplify their voice, speaker after speaker shouted the most hateful, anti-Semitic canards against us.

One speaker arose, shouted while staring at us, "Send them all back on a boat!" We yelled back, "Where is Sami?" referring to Sami Al-Arian, who was the keynote speaker at last year's PSM conference at the University of Michigan. Al-Arian currently sits in Federal Prison for his leadership role in the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. An Arab woman then took the microphone and said, "We are all supporters of Sami Al-Arian."

Of course they are. The very essence of their conference is precisely to lend moral and strategic support to the terrorists fighting for the Palestinian cause. One of PSM's guiding principles is that "as a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation." These are code words for supporting terrorism.

I stood outside the conference from when it began on Friday afternoon until it drew to a close on Sunday evening. I asked many members of PSM if they denounced terrorism. Not a single one did. In fact, the keynote speaker this year, Adam Shapiro, pointedly refused to condemn terrorism when he was pressed on the issue.

If PSM supports suicide bombing, why don't they just come out and admit it? Instead they claim that they are not a terrorist organization and pose no physical threat to the safety of the university. Perhaps they create this illusion because if PSM's agenda were transparent, the universities would no longer allow them free reign on campus. Unfortunately, PSM is currently welcome on college campuses.

The universities should show some moral courage and no longer allow this group to meet on campus. It is a group that offers moral and tactical support to terrorists. It is a group that spreads the most vicious anti-Semitism. Many conference attendees walked past our group and yelled terrible things like, "kill the Jews." Others chose to physically intimidate the clearly identifiable Jews by pushing them or by blocking their paths. These incidents reminded me of what happened last year in Michigan when, at the conclusion of the conference, we were surrounded by a group of conference participants who screamed "kill the Jews" in Arabic.

Nevertheless, our vigil outside the conference sent a strong message to those who promote anti-Semitism and support terrorism -- you are not welcome on college campuses. Take your message elsewhere.

This message seems to be getting across. The good news is that the divestment movement is basically dead. No university President has endorsed it and many have spoken out against it. Having been at both conferences, I can tell you that there were many more delegates (perhaps three times as many) at the Michigan conference than at the OSU conference. The OSU conference did not have more than 200 people there on Saturday, the main day of the conference. When Adam Shapiro spoke on Sunday there probably weren't even 80 people in the room. And many of those people who attend came to monitor the hatred being disseminated.

Most significantly, the OSU campus was not intimidated by the anti-Semitic speech of the conference. The voice of evil was drowned out by the voices of good that rose to drown out the hate.

Jews drove hours from all over America (Indiana, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Wisconsin, and all over Ohio) to speak out against hate on campus. They came to spread the light of truth against the evil of darkness. On Sunday around 200 people gathered to protest against PSM. When the conference had their own closing rally later in the day, there were more protesters than conference attendees!

When this conference was first held in California, Jews were literally beaten up on campus. Last year Jews were surrounded and threatened with their lives. Nevertheless, last year marked the start of Jewish students reclaiming the campuses. This year the voices of terror were nearly drowned out completely. Maybe next year, there won't even be a conference.

At the conclusion of Shabbat, students gathered for the traditional Havdalah service. It is a prayer that recognizes the power of light to push away the darkness. As I recited the prayer, I felt that on this Shabbat we really did push away the darkness of the world. At OSU, the light of good overpowered the darkness of evil.

Palestine Solidarity Movement Support for Terrorism

The goal of the Palestine Solidarity Movement is to destroy Israel.

The Palestinian Solidarity Movement "condones terrorism and should be opposed by civilized people everywhere."
Governor of Ohio, Bob Taft (Ref. 6)

Like its parent organization, the International Solidarity Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Movement claims to be committed to non-violent activism. In reality, both groups deliberately serve as cheerleaders for terrorism.

In an essay that is a foundational document of the movement, "Why Nonviolent Resistance is Important for the Palestinian Intifada," ISM co-founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro explain what they mean by 'non-violence.' (Ref. 7, posted on freepalestinecampaign.org, the official ISM WEB page):

"We do not advocate adopting the methods of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. ... The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics -- both nonviolent and violent." Shapiro and Arraf then describe their goal as the complete elimination of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian State "by any means necessary." To that end, they do not argue for ending terrorism, let alone condemn terrorism as a tool for destroying Israel. Merely, they argue for augmenting terrorism with non-violent direct action, "This (non-violent direct action) is no less of a jihad. This is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation."

Shapiro and Arraf explain that non-violence must be accompanied by violent methods since "no other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement." (Ref. 8, Palestine Chronicle, January 29, 2002)

At the Second National Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, held at the University of Michigan in 2002, during a meeting to shape the Movement's guiding principles, some delegates attempted to insert language that would condemn Palestinian suicide bombings. This was defeated by the strong pro-terrorism faction. The principles finally voted upon deliberately condone terrorism. (Ref. 9)

Principle 5 is carefully worded to condone suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism while appearing innocuous to naive readers. "As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people..." (Ref. 10)

The language used by this movement carefully avoids criticizing terrorism while, by avoiding the use of words like 'terror' and 'bomb,' enabling the naive reader to believe that this is a movement that endorses only non-violent methods. The Quakers are a non-violent movement. The PSM is a movement that condones terrorism or, as the London Telegraph has called them, they are "The 'peace' group that embraces violence." (Ref. 11)

As the web site of the PSM's New Jersey branch states, "[w]e unconditionally support Palestinians' human right to resist occupation and oppression by any means necessary." (Ref. 12)

New Jersey Solidarity leader, Rutgers Law School student Charlotte Kates states, "I personally support Palestinian resistance in all its forms, from armed struggle to..." (Ref. 13)

The Michigan meeting also took up the question of the right of Israel to exist. Here opinion was unanimous. Not a single Palestine Solidarity Movement delegate was willing to vote that Israel has a right to exist. Not one supported a two-state solution. Not one was willing to renounce the often repeated Palestinian goal of driving the Jews into the sea. (Ref. 14)

Some delegates were clad in T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Palestine Will Be Free From the River to the Sea." This slogan was taken up as a chant by a large number of attendees at one point. When a speaker called for "one single Palestinian state over the whole of historical Palestine," he received a tremendous ovation. (Ref. 15)

The tone of the conferences at Berkeley, Michigan, the Ramada Inn near Rutgers, and Ohio State is well-attested to have been not merely anti-Israel, but anti-Semitic as well. After the conference at Berkeley, as a direct and proximate result of inciteful speech and language uttered by speakers, several incidents of violence were committed against Jewish students on the Berkeley campus and nearby campuses, and citizens of the surrounding metro areas. (Ref. 16 and Ref. 17)

One speaker at PSM conferences has been Mahdi Bray of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In October, 1998, Bray coordinated and led a Washington rally of 2,000 people, during which he played the tambourine as the crowd repeated, "[L]et's all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews." On December 22, 2000, Bray organized and spoke at a rally outside the White House, at which the emcee and crowd chanted responsively in Arabic, "oh Jews, the Army of Muhammad is coming for you!" The Nazi swastika was openly displayed. On October 28, 2000 Bray organized a march from Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, at which protesters were led into singing, "Victory comes from Allah, and Hezbollah is our model." Hezbollah murdered over 241 U.S. Marines in the early 1980s. (Ref. 18)

Another speaker at U. Michigan was Sami Al-Arian, a controversial University of South Florida computer science professor who the school was at that time trying to fire in the face of allegations that he was tied to the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian has since been arrested and charged with being a high official in Islamic Jihad, listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Well before Al Arian was invited to Michigan conference, video tape was publicly available showing Al-Arian's fundraising tour of America's mosques in which Al-Arian is introduced as, "the president of the Islamic Committee for Palestine, ... the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement." While others in the video praise the killing of Jews and Christians, Al-Arian states, "Let us damn America. ... Let us damn [her] allies until death." Standing under Islamic Jihad banners, Al-Arian talks of a Koranic "curse" against "those who are the sons of Israel through David and Jesus, the Son of Mary... The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our path." "We assemble today to pay respects to the march of the martyrs and to the river of blood that gushes forth and does not extinguish, from butchery to butchery, and from martyrdom to martyrdom, from Jihad to Jihad." (Ref. 19)

One anti-terrorism protestor at the Ohio State conference reported that "Several times over the weekend I asked attendees as they came in and out of the student center for their view on suicide bombing. "Go for it" and "it is a legitimate form of resistance" were two of the more common responses." (Ref. 20)

Journalist/activist Lee Kaplan reported on a "Skill Share Discussion Workshop" entitled "Deconstructing Zionist Responses On Your Campus." "The topic? How to dismiss concern over suicide bombings while debating the Israel/Palestine issue. "Don't get defensive," said one. "Blame it on Israel," said another. Still another advised protesters to ask, "Would it be better if it wasn't a suicide bomber? Is this tactic so beneath reproach?" (Ref. 21)

Fadi Kiblawi, was organizer of the Second National Conference of the PSM while he was an undergraduate at U. Mich. He is the author of an article in a University of Michigan student publication, in which he wrote of his desire "to strap a bomb to one's chest and kill ... The enemy is not just overseas, the enemy is also amongst us." (Al-Risalah , Spring Edition II, June 24, 2001)

After 9/11, Kiblawi claimed that he had been only joking.

In the summer of 2004 Kiblawi, now a law student at George Washington University, was arrested while working with the ISM in Israel. He was released, but forbidden from entering the occupied territories. (Ref. 22)

Other PSM members continue to travel to Israel to work with the International Solidarity Movement. Israel security officials now refuse entry to the country to anyone known to be traveling to work with the ISM. The ISM holds workshops to instruct volunteer activists in methods of breaking the law by lying to passport control. (Ref. 23)

Refusing visas to individuals known to pose a security threat is done by every nation in the world, including the United States. Israel routinely permits entry by members of peace groups, NGO's, and by journalists, including those who are anti-Israel and harshly critical of Israeli government policy. For example, reporters from Al Manar, the televised voice of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, are allowed to work in Israel as long as they are not personally involved in terrorism. Officials of the Red Crescent are permitted to enter Israel as long as they are not personally involved in terrorism, even though Red Crescent ambulances have frequently been used to transport terrorists, bombs, and munitions for terror operations. Radical left-wing activists working with the Sabeel Center are granted visas. Israel denies visas to identifiable members of the ISM because the nature of their "direct action" activities puts lives at risk. (Ref. 24)

These visa refusals "are based on a solid fear that as an activist of the ISM (he/she) might be exploited by Palestinian terrorists, and not on... political opinion" according to the Israeli Embassy in London. "Israel sees ISM activists as idealistic dupes for (terrorists) who have killed hundreds of people since an uprising started in 2000. Palestinians say their presence lends moral support ." (Ref. 25, Reuters, August 25, 2004)

Jessica Rutter, a Duke 2004 graduate accepted a free trip to Israel with the Birthright Program with the intention of volunteering with the ISM. To do so she had to lie to the Birthright Program about her intentions, which is dishonorable and a lie to Israeli passport control, which is illegal under both American and Israeli law. (Ref. 26)

As the banners, T-shirts, and slogans at Berkeley, U. Mich., Rutgers, and OSU said: "Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea" "by any means necessary."

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