On February 25th, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) promoted “Confronting Zionism,” an in-person event to be held at the Cleveland Park Library, a branch of the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL), on Saturday, March 5th. PYM members planned to discuss “What Zionism is, its effects at the transnational and local levels, and why it is incompatible with any legitimate liberation struggle,” an unabashed attempt to undermine the Jewish right to self-determination.
CAMERA on Campus and CAMERA’s Washington D.C. office gathered material exposing the Palestinian Youth Movement for sympathizing with several convicted terrorists, including Rasmea Odeh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S., E.U, and Israel designated terrorist organization. Odeh was deported from the U.S. in 2017 for not disclosing her involvement with the PFLP.
In 1969, Odeh co-orchestrated the bombing in a supermarket in Jerusalem, Israel. The attack murdered two 21-year-old Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. In 1970, Odeh was sentenced to two life terms in an Israeli prison after planning additional deadly bombings. She was released in 1979 as part of a prisoner swap with the PFLP.
In January 2020, PYM co-hosted a conference with other extremist organizations, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and a Students for Justice in Palestine affiliated club, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), at the University of Michigan. The conference catered to an audience of university students, recent alumni, and youth to “expand [their] knowledge of the Palestinian Movement.” According to PYM, this “knowledge” includes placing moral equivalences between deceased terrorists who plan “to slaughter Zionists with [their] own hands” and civilian victims. PYM has also organized community and university events in Canada, which were subsequently canceled due to “open glorification of terror” and “security concerns.
Once D.C government officials became aware of the parties involved in planning the event, the details were quickly presented to the DCPL for assessment. Ultimately, the DCPL decided to cancel the meeting as the room was reserved by a group of students from Georgetown University and George Washington University who failed to disclose their affiliation with PYM and were “not forthcoming about the event they were planning to hold.” Thus, the DCPL concluded that “they misrepresented the purpose of their meeting.”
It is profoundly concerning that PYM would try to manipulate students into hosting an event on their behalf. It should come as no surprise that an organization that promotes extremism lends its platform to terrorists and terror-apologists would be less than forthcoming in its effort to brainwash American youth in our nation’s capital. Thankfully, the DCPL has no patience for such deception.
Aviva Rosenschein is International Campus Director for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.