While the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has done little to hide its malicious anti-Israel hatred, the movement hitherto has succeeded in maintaining the appearance of legitimacy, presenting itself as the peaceful alternative to terrorism.
Despite rhetoric which pro-Israel activists have noted signals a rejection of Jewish statehood per se and draws upon the kind of terrorist propaganda disseminated by Hamas and the PLO, no clear link tying BDS to supporters of terror organizations could be found.
Last week, however, a former terrorism finance analyst for the US Treasury Department offered testimony to congress suggesting connections between the BDS movement and supporters of the Hamas terror group.
Jonathan Schanzer, who worked for the US Treasury Department from 2004 to 2007 monitoring terrorist funding, spoke before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee last Tuesday regarding the ties between the BDS movement and terror fundraisers including the now defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
Schanzer noted that three prominent Islamic organizations – the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the KindHearts for Charitable Development – had been prosecuted and eventually shut down after serving as fronts for the Hamas terror group.
While many of the organizers responsible for these three groups were given prison sentences or deported from the US, others high-level members were involved in the founding of American Muslims for Palestine.
An inquiry by the Investigative Project on Terrorism found that five high-ranking officials in American Muslims for Palestine had been members of the Islamic Association for Palestine.
Schanzer pointed out other senior Islamic Association for Palestine members now operating in the AMP.
Rafeeq Jaber, for instance, had served as President of the IAP. Today, he is an official working for the AMP’s Educational Foundation. Former IAP secretary general, Abdelbasset Hamayel, is now listed as an AMP agent in the organization’s Chicago branch.
Other AMP members include Hossein Khatib, a former regional director for the Holy Land Foundation who now serves on the AMP board of directors.
Salah Sarsour is another AMP board member with ties to the Holy Land Foundation. Both Salah and his brother, Jamil, had served time in Israel over their ties to Hamas. Jamil admitted that he and his brother Salah had raised funds for the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
Anti-Israel organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine, which operates on college campuses across the US, are heavily funded by the AMP. In recent years the AMP has become one of the leading financial backers of BDS groups like the SJP.
Aside from direct financial support, the “AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials… and grants to SJP activists. AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups,” Schanzer testified.
In some cases, terrorists were involved directly in the operation of BDS organizations. Schanzer offered the example of the US Coalition to Boycott Israel, a Chicago-based BDS group run by a former PFLP terrorist.
“The group’s president is Chicago resident Ghassan Barakat, a consular notary for the Palestine Liberation Organization who has been identified… as a member of the Palestine National Council.”
Barakat was a “’fighter in the ranks of the mountain brigade’ for the PFLP,” a reference to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terror group responsible for some of the worst atrocities committed in Israel including the 1972 Lod Airport Massacre and 2014 Jerusalem Synagogue Massacre.