Middle Eastern terrorist organizations recruiting in the United States are growing more brazen. The recruitment is now done publicly, and includes both the soliciting of financial contributions and U.S. university students being brought to the Middle East to learn from members of terrorist groups.
In Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry’s 2018 report, “Terrorists in Suits,” clear evidence is provided that the BDS movement shares decision makers and financers with a number of U.S.-designated terrorist organizations. Their goals are the same, their funders are the same, their executives are the same—terrorist organizations and the BDS movement are working in tandem to achieve a world without Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
BDS is far from being the only such group operating in the United States. For example, a lawsuit was filed in November 2019 by KKL-JNF and Americans living in Israel against U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), alleging that USCPR is funneling money donated by Americans to designated terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
On their website, USCPR maintains that it is a “national coalition of hundreds of groups working together for freedom, justice, and equality.” However, this doesn’t seem to apply to those living in Israel: The lawsuit claims that charitable contributions to USCPR are being transferred to the same terrorist groups that have been indiscriminately firing missiles into Israel for many years.
In the hands of recipients of financial support from this self-proclaimed civil rights group, balloons and kites equipped with incendiary devices are launched towards Israel from the Gaza Strip with the express purpose of damaging the environment. There are documented cases in which these kites are first colorfully decorated by Gaza school children before being launched. And the results are tragic—almost 9,000 acres of Israeli farms, forests and nature reserves have been destroyed.
In another example, pro-Palestinian advocacy group Eyewitness Palestine was on Duke University’s campus in 2019 during “Israel Apartheid Week,” recruiting students to join one of their delegations to Palestine. The idea was that the students would then return home and advocate for the Palestinian cause.
Similar to USCPR, Eyewitness Palestine describes itself as an “organization seeking peace for all in the Middle East.” They choose not to publicize the fact that some of the meetings they arrange for these American university students are with members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis.
The Department of Education is concerned enough about terrorism’s impact on U.S. campuses that it has opened an investigation into a number of universities to determine whether they are ensuring that the hundreds of millions of dollars they receive from oil-rich Qatar do not originate from sources that provide material support for “specially designated global terrorism.”
This is no dry academic subject, relevant only for politicians and lawyers. In November, some 560 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip over a two-day period by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the terrorist partners that receives money from USCPR. Many of these rockets targeted towns in southern Israel, including where my son is stationed. When a rocket is fired at such close range (a few miles), people in the area have about five seconds from the time they hear the sirens to reach cover. My family and I live about 20 miles from the Gaza Strip, so we have about 45 seconds to get to cover.
My son escaped injury in November, but a few months prior he sustained shrapnel wounds from a Gazan missile.
Terrorist organizations have become savvier, using human-rights slogans and even children’s toys to portray themselves in a positive light. We can’t let our guard down, lest we be tricked into sympathizing and even supporting terrorism.
Ron Machol is the COO of Zachor Legal Institute (www.zachorlegal.org), an organization using the law to combat anti-Semitism.