In order to “better understand the human rights situation in Israel and Palestine,” a group of self-proclaimed social-justice advocates are currently touring Israel and the West Bank. The problem with the seemingly noble mission? Everything.
To start, the trip is organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), an anti-Israel non-governmental organization (NGO) that promotes BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and lawfare campaigns against Israel.
Next, some of the trip’s participants are so involved with efforts to delegitimize Israel that two were denied entry visas.
One of those, Katherine Franke, is a Columbia University professor who is highly active in promoting BDS campaigns both on and off campus. Franke participated as a panelist in the Spring 2016 “Apartheid Week” event, “The Case for Academic Boycott [of Israel],” co-hosted by SJP and JVP, where she distributed an informational sheet “Boycotts Through History” that described the 1934 Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses as a “counter-boycott” to boycotts of goods from Nazi Germany. She also signed the pro-BDS “Faculty Petition” supporting a call for divestment, is an editor of Columbia’s Center for Palestine Studies’ Nakba Files website, and, according to her CCR bio, is a member of the Steering Committee for Jewish Voice for Peace’s (JVP) Academic Advisory Council. Franke uses her appointment at the Law School and role as Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law to further her own anti-Israel activism and BDS in her coursework and in bringing anti-Israel events and NGOs into the Law School.
Vincent Warren, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, was similarly denied entry.
Another trip participant is none other than Tamika Mallory—one of the leaders of the Women’s March and an endorser of well-known anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. Mallory is infamous for her recent advocacy against the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) program that “takes a small number of law-enforcement executives to Israel to study its counter-terrorism approaches” and her tireless efforts that pushed Starbucks to exclude the ADL from participating in an upcoming anti-bias training session.
Given the list of participants, it appears that the individuals are coming to enhance their already existing anti-Israel views. The groups that the trip has met with thus far only give further weight to this point.
According to CCR, the group is set to meet with “a variety of prominent legal advocacy and human-rights organizations.” Given CCR’s history of anti-Israel campaigning and a quick review of its funding, the NGOs on the schedule were no surprise.
According to NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, CCR received an estimated $500,000 dollars from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation in 2015—the same foundation that also funds fringe groups Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Adalah, Al-Haq and Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
One of the group’s first stops was a tour of Hebron by the politicized NGO Breaking the Silence, which publishes anonymous and unverified testimonies from Israeli soldiers to accuse Israel of war crimes and other violations. Tamika Mallory was eager to share her experience on twitter.
Another NGO the group met with is Grassroots Jerusalem, an organization that promotes a so-called “right of return,” a Palestinian campaign aimed at eliminating the Jewish state through demography. Both Breaking the Silence and Grassroots Jerusalem are financially supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which also funds a number of anti-Israel BDS promoting organizations.
However, most shocking is that of all the groups they could have met with, the activists chose to go for one that is linked to a terror group. Addameer is an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terror organization designated in the United States, European Union and Canada, among other countries. The PFLP is known for hijacking airliners, bombings, and the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister. Most recently, PFLP operatives slaughtered a family of five and massacred a group of worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue. Addameer provides lawyers for suspected PFLP terrorists and runs propaganda campaigns on behalf of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terror offenses.
Further, in the wake of Palestinian Authority leader Abbas’ heinous anti-Semitic remarks, the group met with BADIL—a Palestinian NGO that holds annual “right of return” contests and has published virulently anti-Semitic cartoons on its website, as well as imagery promoting the elimination of Israel.
It will come as no surprise then, when these “human-rights activists” return to the United States with copious amounts of skewed information to support their pre-existing anti-Israel advocacy. It is obvious that the goal of this trip is not “to better understand the human-rights situation in Israel and Palestine,” but to promote a one-sided rejectionist Palestinian agenda in the United States.
The result can only be more bias and hate—far from the human rights and peace that social-justice activists are supposed to promote.
Rena Young is Digital Media and Communications Manager at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.