Jess Ghannam is a co-founder of PACBI.org and actively involved with attacking Israel and Jews around
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Exposing pro-Hamas activities in the U.S.
March 19, 2010 By
Introduction by Douglas J. Hagmann, Director: The following is an in-depth investigative report by Lee Kaplan, investigator and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network. Using concealed, body worn surveillance equipment, Mr. Kaplan successfully secured significant video and audio footage of a pro-Hamas, pro-Palestinian and virulent anti-Israel “planning conference” held at the La Mesa, California, Community Center on 13 February 2010.
The significance of the documentation obtained cannot be understated. U.S. Muslims with an anti-Semitic agenda, advocating the destruction of the nation of Israel, have infiltrated U.S. colleges and universities. Under the guise of protecting the rights of Palestinians, they are effectively advocating Islamic terrorism and soliciting financial support for Hamas and other Muslim groups, while branding those who support Israel as racists.
The following is the first of an investigative series that uncovers the true Islamic agenda involving not only Israel, but the U.S. as well. The undercover operation exposes the complicity of various Islamic organizations, showing that the same ideology that brought us 9/11 is working towards the complete destruction of Israel, right here in the U.S.
19 March 2010: Al Awda, which is also known as the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition, has always been virulently opposed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state or homeland. As masters of deceptive language, members of Al Awda, with 15 chapters in the US, Canada and the EU, mostly near college campuses, have always striven to rely on “Points of Unity” to state that they believe in no negotiation or peace with Israel and consider the entire Jewish state as “Palestinian land” to never be recognized in any kind of peace deal with Jews. Their motto at previous conferences was “From the river to the sea,” meaning taking all of Israel. That is, the ancestors of any Arab who claimed to have lived in pre-1948 Israel must have the right to go back and live on the exact same spot with no other solution allowed. Al Awda members and acolytes, who sponsor these events like the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at San Diego State University (SDSU), routinely claim they are not anti-Semitic and not warmongers. But if one scratches the surface at an Al Awda event, as I did at this one, it isn’t hard to find advocacy for attacks on Jews, both financial and physical, that normally the public does not see. Only a month before this event, Al Awda with the SJP at San Diego State openly raised money for the Hamas terrorist organization.
Founded by three Arab doctors, Jess Ghannam of UC San Francisco Medical Center, who is a major organizer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Dr. Zahi Damuni, a microbiologist, and Mazen Qumsiyeh, a former PFLP member who was fired by Yale University as a geneticist when he used the University’s email system to send out anti-Semitic emails, Al Awda is now ten years old. Qumsiyeh is back in the US from Beit Sahour in the West Bank, where he is wanted by the Israeli police. He was not present at the conference in San Diego, busy doing Al Awda’s bidding on the US East Coast. But the first two were present at this event, Ghannam recently returning only the previous month from Gaza where he also brought financial and material aid to the Hamas.
This particular event was not taking place on a college campus as usual though, but at the La Mesa, California, Community Center because I had contacted the administration at San Diego State University in advance and told them about this latest anti-Jewish hate fest and support meeting for terrorists overseas. I explained to the administration at SDSU that I had gotten a similar Al Awda conference booted two years earlier from UC Riverside and the reasons why. A week later, the San Diego State venue was canceled.
Unfortunately, the Mayor of La Mesa, California was more than willing to allow Al Awda a venue in their city’s community center. I managed to attend the conference disguised as a Muslim where I videotaped and recorded everything that went on inside. This allowed me to see the real face of Al Awda, not available to the public-at-large, and it’s an ugly one that can only mean more war in the Middle East. Perhaps it was the change of venue, but despite earlier claims by Al Awda of 200 participants showing up for the conference, there were less than fifty that showed up for the planning and strategy sessions during the entire day.
Jess Ghannam spoke first. “I have never been more optimistic,” he said. “Because we’re beginning to see cracks now we haven’t seen in the last 62 years” (meaning since the founding of Israel). He went on to crow about a new report, just released from the Reut Institute in Israel, an Israeli think tank.
Discussing the report as it was covered by the Israeli left-wing newspaper Ha’Aretz, Ghannam chortled, “It’s a fantastic article about an Israeli think tank designed to report to the Knesset and Cabinet future threats to Israeli security by a global campaign of de-legitimization.” He then explained with glee how the report detailed that small anti-Israel demonstrations across American campuses, attacks on Israeli athletes abroad and boycotts of Israeli products are now perceived as a long-term threat by the Israeli government. He next praised the “heroic efforts” of students from the Muslim Students Union at UC Irvine nearby who had disrupted a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren by shouting and yelling when he he came to speak. “It got on You Tube now,” he said, and then crowed, “Now, every single Israeli military official and politician will be afraid to speak publicly. It’s huge!”
He mentioned how Tzipi Livni had refused to fly into London for fear of arrest (she maintained she had a scheduling conflict). He continued, “Any time any Israeli politician goes anywhere, not only should they be confronted, but they should be arrested.”
Ghannam next went on to praise the weekly rioting in the villages of Bi’ilin and Ni’ilin at the Security Fence in the West Bank, terming the rioting “nonviolent” protests. It should be noted that Ghannam is an active organizer in the San Francisco Bay Area of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) that sends provocateurs to the West Bank to foment such riots. “Every single Friday they protest nonviolently,” he reported. In fact, over 170 Israeli soldiers and police have already been injured by rocks thrown by slingshots and Molotov cocktails at these “nonviolent” demonstrations, so such events are indeed very violent.
He explained how Twitter and You Tube—the Internet– allow access within hours to such events and provided “solidarity to our community of allies all over the world” and urged attendees to “keep up these heroic efforts.”
He praised a growth with what he called “communities of color” working as and with new Palestinian organizations and described a demonstration he had been to in San Francisco. He said, “At one event, we had the Latino community, the African-American and Southeast Asian community (but he didn’t point out these are usually fringe Marxist revolutionary ethnic groups as part of International ANSWER and the International Socialist Organization that call for the violent overthrow of the US government, and, as such, not representative of their respective ethnic communities).
Nevertheless, he described the pro-Israel demonstrators that opposed them as “crazy white Russians”(Russian Jews in the Bay Area who have experienced anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union turn out frequently in support of Israel). Ghannam concluded, “they look like a settlement bloc.” One of Ghannam’s colleagues then falsely stated that the settlements were houses taken from the Palestinians and given to Americans and paid for by the US taxpayer. Truth seems to have no relevance regarding Jewish communities in the West Bank to the leadership of Al Awda, be they American, Russian or Israeli Jews).
Ghannam declared pro-Israel supporters, “racist” and “no reflection of the diversity of society”, declaring them “grotesque right wing extremists” (considering the Palestinians’ and Arab world’s intolerance of Christians and Jews and democracy as a whole, especially Al Awda’s uncompromising support for Jew-hating Hamas, such a statement was in itself grotesque).
He boasted that only 3 days earlier Al Awda got the rock band Santana canceled from performing in Israel by just picking up the phone. “By putting pressure on musicians, artists, on anyone who thinks they can give a concert without supporting ‘occupation’, Israel would be even more isolated,” he said. He also mentioned how the UK government initiated a boycott of Israeli foods manufactured in the Jewish communities of the West Bank.
Ghannam then went on about how he helped start the U.S. Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. “Academics should not support Israeli universities as part of the occupation regime, he said. The “occupation regime,” of course, meant the existence of Israel.
Not mentioned was the fact such boycotts are designed to literally “starve out the Jews” as just violence focused in a different way. Nearly 500,000 children and elderly in Israel eat in soup kitchens as a result of the Arab League Boycott. Divestment and boycotts were the first tactics of the Nazis against the Jews in 1933. Why should this be viewed any differently when it carried out by Al Awda and planned at such conferences?
As usual, Ghannam whined about the current fate of the Palestinians: “On the one hand it’s really dark when we see what is happening to our communities. World governments turned their back on us (after 17 years of helping them to have a state and billions in foreign aid.). He concluded, however, that “On the other hand, we are seeing tremendous successes. Stay engaged with Al Awda and work with me to find real justice in Palestine.”
Ghannam’s speech points out why there can never be peace with the Palestinians. Al Awda is not a peace group or social service group for Palestinians, but rather a warmongering organization against Israel and the Jewish state, its leadership accepting nothing less than the dismantling of Israel and its being overrun by enough Arabs to turn Israel into an Arab dominated state. Our colleges and universities in America are being used as the mechanism to achieve this through boycotts, divestment, fund raising for terrorists and other actions designed to harm the Jews in Israel so as to not reach a peace settlement. “Peace” can only mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Then something unusual happened at the event. As the next Al Awda co-founder and leader, Zahi Damuni gave his lecture, one Arab-American student in attendance, presumably from San Diego State, raised his hand and asked, “I understand we’re going to take back our land and houses and all that and that we have a right to do so. But what is supposed to happen to the Jews living in those houses when we go back?”
Damuni was stumped. He began to hesitate then referred to the Points of Unity. But the so-called Points of Unity say nothing about the Jews. It only says the Arabs are going to take back “all Arab lands.” Damuni explained how somehow a man’s house was sacred by “international law” and he had the inalienable right to go back to that house no matter what or how long he had been gone from it.
Another Arab student chimed in “He isn’t denying that right. He only asked what is supposed to happen to the Jews living in those houses. He’s asking what would happen to them?”
Damuni again stuttered and stammered. “There are different options,” Damuni said. Damuni, during his lecture continued to refuse to answer the question and told the first student he would talk to him later in private, a final diversion to avoid answering. There was no need to notice the solution hadn’t been discussed in the Points of Unity. If the Jews living in Israel were to remain unharmed, just removed from their homes, why couldn’t Damuni just say that publicly? The real answer was apparent though: the Jews would be killed or deported.
I wondered if these two questioners were young Arab-American students or shills from the local Jewish community. But my impression was that they were genuine, since I’d sat at a table chatting with them before the conference began. One possibility was they had earlier spoken to two women from the Tea Party Movement who had shown up for the event and wanted to see what Al Awda did inside. “You’re not welcome here! Get out!” shouted both Ghannam and Damuni who refused the women admittance. Some of the Arab students, embarrassed, stayed behind and spoke with the two women despite orders from Ghannam and Damuni not to speak to them. Could those women have been the inspiration for such a question?
Later, inside, Zahi Damuni lectured to everyone that Zionism was a racist ideology (the simple idea that Jews should have a national homeland just like the Palestinians claim they are owed one.) Damuni stated that there were no Jews indigenous to Israel or the Middle East living there, but that they all came from Khazaria, basing this from an obscure chapter in Jewish history when a kingdom in Russian Georgia converted to Judaism about 700 AD. More than half the Jews in Israel today are recently descended from Middle East countries the same as any Arabs and Israel has had Jews there for 5,000 years. Jews and Arabs both migrated to the region in large numbers during the period from 1918-1948. Damuni’s lecture on Jewish history was clearly untrue, but the attendees were eating it up.
Denying any Jewish connection to the land of Israel as Damuni did is intended to de-legitimize any rights Jews have to their national homeland. Damuni also spoke of 53 “massacres” against Palestinians by Israel in 1948 as well, that never happened, but were battles as part of a war of annihilation started by the Arabs to wipe Israel off the map. When Arabs lose battles they are victims of “massacres”; when Jews fight back in defense they are “massacring” innocent Arabs. This historical revisionism based on lies is just another form of warmongering practiced by Al Awda’s leadership, being taught to young people in America on our college campuses that perpetuates unending war. It was no different at this conference. I had to wonder, had the Arabs won in 1948 and driven the Jews into the sea, would they today recognize for them an inalienable “right of return” of the Jews?
There was still more to hear at the Conference as the youth contingent, most notably the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from the San Diego State University chapter, sponsors of the event, held a strategy seminar.
Last November, the SJP at SDSU paid tribute on the club’s face book page to PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled who murdered 24 year-old US Navy diver Robert Stethem in an airplane hijacking in Beirut in 1970. The facebook page featured a photo of Khaled with a machinegun. More recently, the SJP and Al Awda held a fundraiser on campus for George Galloway that openly raised money for the terrorist group Hamas. Now they were all here speaking to the attendees at the Al Awda conference and devising more plans against Israel.
The title of this part of the conference was a strategy session titled “Divestment for the Return” and its 3 main goals were promoting from Al Awda’s Points of Unity “ending the occupation of all Arab lands” (meaning Israel.); the right to equality for Arab-Israeli citizens in Israel (something they already have by Israeli law and in practice.) and the unconditional right of return of any Arab who wants to move inside Israel so the Jewish state can be overrun by an Arab majority.
It was clearly a planning session on how to make economic warfare on Israel. It began with two young girls from the SJP at San Diego State explaining the history of apartheid South Africa. The girls went on to claim that comparisons could be made of apartheid as existed once in South Africa that exist in Israel today, but did not cite one example or proof. This is because Israel is in fact the only state in the Middle East that does not practice apartheid, but that was beside the point. The lecture pointed out how it took the boycott and divestment movement against South Africa 56 years to succeed after devastating the South African economy, from 1948-1994. If anything, the lecture illustrated how peace with the Arabs will take no less than 56 years more as they continue to roil the conflict with false information and economic warfare against the Jews. Had this been a similar planning session on how to boycott, say, African-Americans from living in San Diego, it would not be allowed. But Al Awda’s rules of deception always make such planning sessions take place on campuses across our country, and in this case La Mesa’s taxpayer-funded community center when the campus venue became unwelcome due to adverse publicity.
Next up for SJP at SDSU came Lina Othman, head of the group’s outreach department. Othman, wearing a hijab, explained how the UC Divestment program had developed a campus-wide network in California tailored for each campus community. For example, she explained, the climate at UC Berkeley might be different than the one at San Diego State when it came to divesting from the Jewish state.
Othman epitomized the use of deception by the divestment movement just as Al Awda uses in giving such conferences. Othman told us how SDSU had already three SJP members on the Student Council and they were gunning for ten including the Student Body Presidency. Once they had control of the campus, she explained, they would then institute a campus-wide policy. It was bemoaned during this session that an earlier resolution by her campus against the genocide in Darfur had made a point of saying that it did not include Israel. To get around this, Othman explained that future boycott and divestment actions at SDSU would single out “human rights violations” as the cause of pointing out certain companies and individuals to boycott. It was to be specifically about boycotting and divesting from Israel—the Jews—but they wouldn’t say that so as to deceive people.
The next student speaker from Cal State Northridge was atypical. His name was Joseph Glatzer and he was there as one thing: the token Jew to repeat Al Awda’s propaganda. Al Awda likes to claim they are not anti-Semitic. As part of the deception that should be clarified to mean they will accept in their ranks any Jew who will help them destroy the other Jews living in Israel and thus lend them credibility. Glatzer apparently took this position with relish. He described how he had been one of only 100 members out of 1,600 of the Viva Palestina Tour allowed into Gaza, an ISM tour to bring money and aid to the killers in Hamas. Even Hamas, like Al Awda, will accept some Jews in their midst if they will help them murder the rest. Glatzer described his time in Gaza with the Al Awda crowd that came with other radical organizations like Code Pink to assist the most virulently anti-Semitic terrorist group in the world. He then mentioned how after leaving Gaza he used his Jewish ancestry to get into Israel and demonstrate with Israeli communists and anarchists in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem where there have been daily riots because Israel’s Supreme Court determined some of the homes there, in legal dispute for 32 years, still belonged to Jewish owners.
The rest of this period at the Al Awda Conference went mostly to an over sixty-year-old Chicano man in the audience, who identified himself as a railroad worker and union revolutionary who praised what the students were doing and urged them to try and enlist the Mexican-American community in their attacks on Israel and the “capitalist” west. He urged using labor unions to drum up anti-Israel support in the US including playing up the fact that Rachel Corrie allegedly belonged to a health workers union.
A good part of the day’s events were devoted to discussing Al Awda’s actions in helping 2,000 Palestinian refugees that the Obama administration has been admitting to the US from Iraq. Despite the US government paying to bring these refugees over here, the Al Awda speakers still complained that some of them had to endure the hardship of being sent to live in a place like Kentucky. “We’ll bring her back home when we liberate Palestine”, one speaker said. It seems nobody can ever do right by the Palestinians if you listen to Al Awda spokespeople. Adam Shapiro, a co-founder of the ISM and another Jew who has called for the destruction of Israel, then screened a film about these refugees. The Palestinian refugees from Iraq are being brought over to the US, believe it or not, because they were Saddam Hussein’s staunchest loyalists and now have to fear retribution from the Iraqi people because of this. This makes them refugees for the US taxpayer to import and no doubt swell the ranks of Al Awda in the US.
The evening’s festivities included a dinner with a keynote speaker, Dr. Jamal Nassar, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Cal State San Bernardino. Nassar began his lecture by apologizing for his “sister university, San Diego State University, for refusing to host this Al Awda conference.” He then assured the attendees that in the future, Al Awda could have a conference hosted any time they like at Cal State San Bernardino because “they have a special counsel that works with the Arab community in the Inland Empire.” In other words, they have special connections with the campus administration. “It’s the only campus in the country that has such connections,” he boasted.
Nassar went on to complain that the Palestinian people are “fragmented”. He said the Palestinians in Gaza are busy with “the siege”, that the Palestinians in the West Bank are working with Fatah instead of Hamas and that the Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon as well as in the “Diaspora” were all working at cross purposes.
As usual, he blamed Israel for this, calling it a typical tactic of the “colonizer against the colonized.” He went into a diatribe about how Israel was the fault for disputes between Hamas and Fatah, and whatever ills beset the Palestinian Arabs. The fact that Israel has tried to give them a state and pays 70% of their expenses as the Palestinians scream in Arabic they will dismantle the Jewish state (just like Al Awda at this conference) eventually played no part in their disunity.
After encouraging boycott and divestment, Nassar then relayed two stories that he described as examples of the “spirit of the Palestinian revolution.” In the first tale, he mentioned sitting at a café when he noticed a seven-year-old Palestinian boy throw a rock at some Israeli soldiers, hitting one in the face and making him bleed. He recounted how the boy ran into a nearby home with the soldiers giving chase. He noticed the home had no rear exit, only a barred window. The Israeli soldiers entered the home and were inside a while, but then emerged without the boy and left. Nassar said he went to the house and inside found a Palestinian woman with a long skirt. The house, he claimed, had been ransacked, but the woman untouched. When he asked her what about the boy, she lifted her skirt and showed how she hid the boy under it. The fact that a little boy hurled rocks at Jews, that a child was encouraged to be violent meant nothing. In another tale, he told of seeing a young Palestinian man seated on the ground with four Israeli soldiers around him. He had been detained for throwing rocks at the soldiers (throwing rocks that can kill is now cited as “nonviolent resistance” by the Palestinians and the ISM).
A young Palestinian mother with a baby approached from the crowd and screamed at the young man that he was irresponsible and said she was leaving him and the baby for her mother, tossing the infant into the young man’s lap. The Israeli soldiers decided to leave, choosing not to arrest a man with a baby. Afterward, Nassar said he found the woman nearby who told him she didn’t know the young man but had put her baby in his lap to fool the Israeli soldiers. She retrieved her baby and saved the stone thrower from arrest. Apparently, the fact that Israeli soldiers in both cases were humane meant nothing, stone throwing is good when it’s directed at the Jews. Nassar’s conclusion to his keynote speech was little more than an exhortation and praise of violence.
I recently called the President’s office at Cal State San Bernardino and asked about all this and if indeed that campus was available to Al Awda any time the group wished to be there. The President’s office advised me they would look into what Nassar claimed and get back to me. I’m still waiting three weeks later. Meanwhile, the CSUSB website says the campus recently received a donation from the Saudis for ten million dollars. Will my alerting that administration to head off another California state institution being used by Al Awda at taxpayer expense to promote war in the Middle East and anti-Semitism here in the US? Only time will tell. But we can all count on Al Awda’s constant warmongering to keep the conflict in the Middle East roiling on and on and our taxpayer dollars going to aid these activities within our college educational system unless we finally do something about it.
On April 30th to May 1st Al Awda will have their 8th International Conference where they will bring in Al Awda activists from all over the world to plan the destruction of Israel.
Already slated for the event as a keynote speaker will be Senator Dennis Kucinich, as well as Ali Abunimah, one of the major leaders of the ISM and a personal friend of President Obama. The last event brought in a PFLP member from abroad as a guest.
Hilton Hotels, which is on Al Awda’s boycott list for doing business with Israel will host this event for a second time at their facilities in Anaheim, California. At least that event won’t be on a college campus, but will nevertheless be a venue for campus groups seeking to destroy Israel to meet again and plan strategy.
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