It’s no secret that widespread anti-Israel bigotry has infected college campuses around the world. And it seems that this toxicity will once again rear its head in Ann Arbor, Mich.
From Jan. 25-26, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) is slated to co-host the “2020 Youth for Palestine Conference” on the University of Michigan’s campus. Billed as an opportunity to “form regional partnerships with other Palestinian solidarity movements” and to “expand your knowledge of the Palestinian movement,” naive students will undoubtedly tolerate, if not support, what seems to be an entirely moral liberation movement. This could not be further from the truth—something much more sinister lurks within the PYM’s agenda.
According to its website, the PYM is a “transnational, independent, grassroots movement of young Palestinians in Palestine and in exile worldwide as a result of the ongoing Zionist colonization and occupation of our homeland.” They rather incoherently “affirm that [their] struggle is deeply rooted in the Arab regional context that must be freed of neocolonialism in order for the complete liberation of Palestine to become a tangible reality.” In other words, the “Arab regional context” must be rid of the Jewish state.
Predictably, not a single page on the PYM’s website mentions the thousands of years of Jewish religious, spiritual and historical connection with the Land of Israel. After all, doing so would expose the organization’s “anti-colonial struggle” for the brazen assault on Jewish identity and peoplehood that it is.
Ironically, what is colonialist in nature is a movement that advocates for the expansion of the Middle East’s majority Muslim culture at the expense of the Jewish minority’s national identity.
Considering that the PYM’s driving ideology relies on an erasure of the most integral foundations of Judaism, it is hardly surprising that they espouse sympathy for antisemitic terrorists. To find proof of this, look no further than their Facebook page: On Nov. 13, members published a list of “martyrs” killed by Israeli airstrikes, which included Bahaa Salim Hasan Abu al-Atta at the top of the list. What the PYM deceitfully hides from its followers is that al-Atta was a member of the Iranian-sponsored Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—a U.S.-designated terrorist organization whose members have pledged to “slaughter the Zionists with [their] own hands,” perpetrated multiple suicide bombings within Israel and frequently use the Gaza strip as a military base for rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilians.
That the PYM would mention these murderers in the same breath as innocent civilians accidentally killed by Israeli airstrikes indicates a deep-seated pathology, and a willingness to tacitly support genocidal violence under the guise of Palestinian “liberation.”
“Considering that the PYM’s driving ideology relies on an erasure of the most integral foundations of Judaism, it is hardly surprising that they espouse sympathy for antisemitic terrorists.”
Not only does the PYM mourn terrorist leaders while ignoring their victims, it advocates for the freedom of those imprisoned for supporting U.S.-designated terrorist organizations. In yet another duplicitous Facebook post, the PYM pompously demanded “freedom for the Holy Land 5”—a reference to five men imprisoned for using their charity, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for Relief and Development—to funnel money to Hamas. Insisting that the men were “convicted of false charges” and merely participated in “community organizing activities tied to the Palestinian cause,” the PYM vowed to “continue the fight for justice on their behalf.” Apparently, sending money to those who orchestrate suicide bombings constitutes support for the “Palestinian cause.”
The PYM’s claims are false. Official FBI documents, including a memorandum written by the Bureau’s then Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division Dale Watson, demonstrated that the HLF transferred funds directly from its offices in Richardson, Texas, to Hamas-controlled “charities” in the West Bank and Gaza. According to FBI analysis in Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development v. Ashcroft, et al., during October of 1993, five HLF officials met in Philadelphia to discuss how to bolster American organizations’ support for Hamas, praising “the movement” and urging a “focus on those people who are directly connected with Jihad.” Thankfully, their references to samah during the meeting (Hamas spelled backwards) did not fool investigators. Four of the five meeting attendees (Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed el-Mezain and Mufid Abdulqader) were among the “Holy Land 5” glowingly embraced by the PYM.
The university’s student body should not be fooled. The impending conference is not about “justice” or “liberation.” It is about the destruction of Israel and the demonization of those who support its right to defend itself. Such malicious activities hurt the Palestinian people most of all; every rocket launched from Gaza’s densely populated cities, every terrorist financially rewarded by the Palestinian Authority, and every antisemitic program run by Palestinian government media will only lead (understandably and justifiably) to a more resolute Israeli defensive posture.
Any activist who ignores these realities is perpetuating the plight of innocent Palestinian civilians. The University of Michigan community deserves better.
Originally published in jns.org.
Contributed by CAMERA’s campus advisor and online editor Zac Schildcrout.