On Sunday, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy made public a lengthy new document entitled, “Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs Promoting BDS and Terrorist Organizations.” As stated on its first page, Israel released the report in order to demonstrate “[h]ow terrorists came to hold key positions in NGOs promoting the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign against the State of Israel; and how, through these NGOs, they exploit Western governmental funding, philanthropic foundations, financial platforms and civil society to advance their goal of dismantling the State of Israel.”
NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, are hotly contested in the Israeli public discourse. Anti-Israel NGOs are so widespread that an entire Jerusalem-based organization, NGO Monitor, exists to thwart their pernicious agitprop. Last week, for example, The Daily Wire reported on anti-Israel NGO Amnesty International’s economic campaign to cripple Israel’s thriving tourism industry.
In perhaps the most jarring entry in the 80-page report’s introductory “Main Findings” section, the Israeli government concludes that, “Hamas and [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)] operatives have infiltrated and adopted seemingly benign NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, Europe, North America and South Africa, for the purpose of advancing their ideological goal: the elimination of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Moreover, it appears that terrorist organizations view NGOs in the West as a convenient means for raising funds which they could not otherwise obtain.”
The Times of Israel reports that Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan claims the briefing shows that “terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks.”
The briefing pinpoints infamous Palestinian-Arab jihadist Leila Khaled in no uncertain terms. As The Times of Israel reports:
The report presents dozens of examples of crossover between activists in NGOs, which delegitimize and promote boycotts of Israel, and Hamas and the PFLP.
The ministry singled out Leila Khaled, a PFLP terrorist who was involved in plane hijackings almost 50 years ago, and who today goes on speaking tours in Europe and is widely respected in South Africa.
The ministry accused Khaled of “coordinating between a PFLP command center in Syria and operatives in Jerusalem planning lethal attacks against Israelis,” even while fundraising for the BDS movement in South Africa.
Also noteworthy, as both The Times of Israel and The Tower independently highlight, is the briefing’s condemnation of American Muslims for Palestine — a group founded by the same anti-Israel activist as the ubiquitous on-campus BDS group, Students for Justice in Palestine — as involved “directly and indirectly … in providing funding assistance to Hamas.” American Muslims for Palestine, as The Jerusalem Post reports, has many staff and board members who were previously active with the defunct Texas-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF) which was shuttered in 2008, as part of the largest successful terror financing prosecution in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice. HLF was shown to be funneling funds to Hamas.
As noted by The Tower, confirmed links between terrorist groups and the anti-Semitic BDS campaign are hardly new.
Research by NGO Monitor, a watchdog group, found in 2016 that “many European countries fund a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the PFLP, and others with a substantial presence of employees and officials linked to the PFLP.”
About the same time, research conducted by Jonathan Schanzer and Kate Havard of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies found, “The BDS campaign in the United States broadly identifies as a nonviolent social justice movement. But, its connections to the PFLP, a decidedly violent group, are troubling.”