Report reveals BDS links to terrorism

Gilad Erdan. Photo: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

TERRORISTS are helping to run the BDS movement, a new hard-hitting Israeli government report claims.

Gilad Erdan, Strategic Affairs Minister, said on Sunday that he has evidence that there are more than 100 “connections” between terrorists and organisations that promote BDS.

He claimed to “remove the mask” of some of the boycott movement’s stalwarts.

The report comes as the BDS movement is ratcheting up a campaign for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest to be relocated away from Israel.

British cultural figures signed a letter last week calling on the BBC to urge for the contest to be moved from the Jewish State.

Detailing the “connections”, Erdan said that his ministry gathered information on some people who “by day fill senior positions in NGOs that promote BDS, and by night are members of terrorist groups”.

It also focused on BDS officials who have terrorist backgrounds, and a phenomenon of “fundraising for BDS groups by well-known terrorists”.

It explored “joint campaigns and lobbying efforts” between terrorists and BDS. Some of the BDS organisations that are said to have terror ties have been active on campuses.

“Think about it,” Erdan urged his audience. “You have active members of terrorist organisations who have under- gone military training by groups such as Hezbollah who walk around the European parliament presenting themselves as civil society activists while lobbying for boycotts of Israel and the release of terrorists [from jails].”
He said that when his ministry discovered this “vast web of connections” he reached the conclusion that terrorists have realised that attacks are not con- sidered legitimate and have “therefore adopted BDS as a parallel and comple- mentary track to terrorism”.

People involved in the campaign against BDS say that the report is important. Michael Dickson, executive director of StandWithUs Israel, told The AJN: “This exposé will have concrete, real-world ramifications. There is now clear evidence for the world to see that supposedly humanitarian organisations count terrorists among their number.

“From now on, no one can credibly make the case that BDS is a non-violent cause – many of its exponents are guilty of horrific crimes.

“Governments, political bodies and those who oversee non-profits must ensure that BDS groups with terror links are not considered legitimate and that the terrorists who are named in this report are considered persona non grata.”

Erdan is arguing that terrorists have come to see BDS as a way to delegitimise Israel and undermine its international standing and right to self-defence.

He also claimed that the BDS movement presents a way to get terrorists, branding themselves as activists, into meetings with high-level foreign officials and politicians. The report was called “Terrorists in Suits”.

There are even worries that BDS is serving as a channel for terrorist organ- isations to commandeer funding from Western governments and philanthro- pists.

The report said that NGOs tied to terrorist organisations have received funding from European countries and EU institutions, from Western governments and from private philanthropic foundations.

“In our estimation,” the Strategic Affairs Ministry researchers wrote, “in light of the ties between the terror organisations and these NGOs, there is concern that government and private funds are being transferred to terrorist organisations, both directly and indirectly. ”

One of the militants it named is plane hijacker and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operative Laila Khaled, who has raised funds for and promoted BDS.

As recently as 2018 she was quoted saying that “Palestine will be liberated … first and foremost through armed struggle.”

The report reveals that Mohammad Sawalha, an influential figure in the British Muslim Initiative and the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, met Hamas just a few weeks ago. He was a member of the Hamas political bureau from 2013 to 2017, according to the report.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry argued that the lines of separation between the infrastructure of BDS and the infrastructure of Palestinian militants is thin.

It found that the 28-member BDS National Committee, the Ramallah-based leadership of the global boycott movement toward Israel, is led by the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF).

This body, the PNIF, includes five internationally-designated terrorist organisations including Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Erdan sees information in his report as the smoking gun that should push governments around the world to cut funding from BDS bodies, and prompt banks to stop transferring funds to them.

He said, “I urge all governments and financial institutions to investigate the activities of these BDS organisations, and immediately end all funding and support which they provide to them.”

But some on Israel’s activist left say that the government is trying to silence a just cause.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, a veteran campaigner, told The AJN that she believes that the involvement of some extremists in BDS doesn’t discredit the movement as a whole.

She called BDS “the only pressure that’s non-violent”, and said that the report was a “deliberate distraction” from Israel’s responsibilities to the Palestinians.

NATHAN JEFFAY