Haaretz reports that Jewish students use birthright as a free ticket to volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement in the occupied territories. I think this is really great,  but don’t get me wrong – ISM is definitely not the ideal organization. While Israel’s claims about its links to terror are probably BS (more lies yet to be proven), there is no doubt that some of the ISM activists aren’t exactly motivated by love and compassion:

In the meantime, both Max and Jessica admit that the birthright experience affected them deeply – even if it wasn’t what birthright officials may have hoped for. Max, for one, says he saw the soldiers as human beings, not simply as “symbols of militarization and occupation” as he had viewed them before. And Jessica says that she developed a “greater sympathy for Jewish nationalism.”

Does this mean that before the birthright trip Max actually saw soldiers only as symbols of occupation? I had a little chat with an ISM activist, and he agreed that there is a small minority in the organization that is really anti-Israel, which is a shame. Perhaps ISM activists should have orientation meetings with the Israeli conscientious objectors and youth refuseniks.

[updated] The IDF’s propoganda sometimes does a great job, especially with the ISM. One of the responders to this post quoted a frontpage magazine article, where it was stated that “At the time of his injury, Tom Hurndall [ISM member] was armed, wearing tiger fatigues, and shooting at a Israeli Defense Force outpost, taking cover behind a nearby building between shots.” This claim was actually originally an IDF statement. Luckily, Tom Hurndall’s parent’s pressure succeded in getting Israel’s Judge Advocate General Menahem Finkelsteinto to order the IDF “to open a military police investigation into Hurndall’s death”, as Wikipedia notes. Were the eyewitnesses more reliable than the IDF spokesman after all?

47 thoughts on “Birthleft

  1. Asaf-
    Whats the deal with ISM? Im not so familiar with them. Can you link to some articles where israel claims they are associated with terror, and ISMs response?

  2. there is a ton to cover.
    official website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/
    they have a lot of articles. just search ISM in google and you will got a lot of leftist and right wing stuff. i dont even know where to start. the army accused them several times for hosting the terrorists who did the suicide attack at mikes place on the Tel-Aviv boardwalk. while the terrorists did go to ISM meeting or something of the sort, ISM claim (and i believe them with no doubt) that they did not know who these people were, which is most likely because suicide bombers dont tell anyone they come across they are terrorists. there were a few cases in which the army tried to accuse them of various allegations. not one of them was proven. the ISM works in no violent ways, which means not pacifist but not violent – they will stand in front of bulldozers etc.
    there was a british activist that was shot in the head by and Israeli soldier, and died. the army accused the soldier, I dont remember of what charges. then there was the case of rachel corrie’s murder.
    altogether the ISM is doing a good job. but as i said in my post, i wont deny that at least a small minority is anti-israeli and has a totally wrong approach towards Israeli soldiers.

  3. Refuseniks were Jews who were refused permission to leave the former Soviet Union. Most Jews were too scared to apply, but some brave and courageous Jews stood out and demanded to leave. Many were even jailed, just for wanting to travel to Israel.
    Israeli draft dodgers are not brave ‘refuseniks’, but rather weak cowards bordering on treason (for dodging the draft in the time of violent conflict) who break the current Israeli draft laws.

  4. *sigh*
    The International Solidarity Movement is an organization that is continuously charged with having relations with terrorists. Whether or not it remains to be proven if they themselves are a terrorist front (I’m assuming not – I’m assuming the ISM is mostly comprised of relatively good natured people who want to help those they perceive as the “underdog” in the Arab-Israeli conflict – the Palestinians). But in the past, they have harbored Shadi Suka, a suicide bomb recruiter for Islamic Jihad, and gave advice to the two British nationals who bombed Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv this past April, killing three and wounding at least fifty – this is not “yet to be proven;” members of the ISM have been quoted as having remembered the men. Albeit, they claim they did not know the Brits were planning on bombing a popular expat hangout in Tel Aviv, but it certainly says something about the ISM that two homicide bombers went to them for advice.
    Regardless of whether or not they’re an evil organization, using Birthright Israel as a means of joining the ISM is completely wrong. There are limited spaces on the trip, and for every one that an ISM member takes, that’s one less for someone actually interested in going to Israel to learn about the culture, the people, the history of their own religion, etc… In addition, the funders of Birthright Israel have given money so that people who have not been to Israel on a formal trip – the people who probably don’t have an opinion set in stone, or are willing to explore what Israel is all about – can have the opportunity to do so. When ISM members go to Israel on a Birthright trip, they are literally stealing thousands of dollars for their own benefit. Not to mention the deception they intentionally present to the trip organizers, group leaders, and fellow participants.
    It’s one thing to want to help out with the Palestinians. I agree that they need help! But it’s an entirely other thing to deceive a good-intentioned organization as a means of doing it.

  5. lets face the bottom line – ISM has nothing to do with terror. saying that they are linked to terror because the two british terrorists met them (for advice) is worse fallacy than saying that birthright supports ISM because 6 acitivsts used its free trips. Lets drop that line.
    Josh- draft dodgers are people who get out of the army by lying or other ways. the refuseniks do not dodge anything, they say the truth and face long jail terms for that reason.

  6. There is a vast difference between saying the ISM is linked to terror because the two brits received advice from them vs. saying birthright supports ISM because 6 members used its free trips. The latter case is an example of a deception – the ISMers lied in order to get onto birthright, therefore birthright cannot be held accountable for their actions. But in the first case the Brits used ISM for what it is – an organization that helps so-called peace activists from around the world get into Israel and the Palestinian territories by any means necessary (their website shows this blatantly).
    I’m not saying ISM is a terrorist organization, that’s obviously not true. But I do believe that to continuously propagate hatred for Israel in the Palestinian communities with so-called “peace” activists is a crime against the real peace movement.

  7. your claims are rediculous – there are terrorists who dress up as settlers or soldiers in order to get into Israel. the army has no real allegations against ISM. if they would (and even if they wouldnt) they would have cracked down on the ISM a long time ago. now they are jsut shooting them “by mistake”.

  8. Asaf, here is a bit about whether the ISM is linked to terrorism or not:
    “In an interview with the New York Post [Ref. 10], Charlotte Kates leader of New Jersey Solidarity and organizer of the National Conference scheduled for Rutgers on October 10-12, told the interviewer that “peaceful resistance is the fest’s guiding principle.” Yet she noted that she, as well as the sponsoring organization, the New Jersey Solidarity Movement — an offshoot of International Solidarity — supports Palestinian homicide bombers. “Palestinian resistance in all its forms has been a very powerful tool of justice,” said Kates, 23, a Rutgers law student. “All forms, from armed struggle to mass protest.” And does Israel have a right to exist? Kates’s answer, “Israel is an apartheid, colonial settler state. I do not believe apartheid, colonial settler states have a right to exist.”
    “At the time of his injury, Tom Hurndall [ISM member] was armed, wearing tiger fatigues, and shooting at a Israeli Defense Force outpost, taking cover behind a nearby building between shots.” -frontpage magazine

  9. frontpage magazine quote is a balatant lie. even the army convicted the soldier who killed him. can u give a link?

  10. After the fatal shooting of ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall by an IDF soldier, IDF sources initially claimed that “at the time of his injury, Tom Hurndall was armed, wearing tiger fatigues, and shooting at a Israeli Defense Force outpost, taking cover behind a nearby building between shots.” This was considerably at odds with the ISM’s account, in which Hurndall was unarmed, dressed in the bright orange jacket of the International Solidarity Movement, and steering two Palestinian children away from a firing Israeli tank-mounted machine gun[7] http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7361).
    Subsequently IDF Sergeant Idier Wahid Taysir admitted to fabricating his account of events. On 10 May 2004 his trial commenced for Hurndall’s manslaughter, two counts of obstruction of justice, one of submitting false testimony, one of obtaining false testimony and one of unbecoming behaviour.

  11. I am sorry but this is pissing me off. Once again the IDF lies are exposed. if not for the pressure put by hurndall’s parents (which made finkelstein start an investigation), Misha and his friends at frontpage would continue to spread these lies.

  12. gotta say, i disagree with both ariela, and gidi mark. My understanding of birthright was that it was for jews who had not gone to israel on a peer trip, to get the opportunity. in the 10 days of the trip, you have to be part of that group, and you can stay longer if you want. if you leave the group, or get kicked out for misbehavior or whatever, you have to pay the money back. granted its their program, and i guess they can change the rules whenever they want. but when did they start saying what you could or couldn’t do with a birthright members extended stay. and since when was being a zionist a prereq. through my experience on the birthright program, i guess i could see how they try to stear you towards zionism, which i found to be a bit of an unadvertised agenda, but who cares..whatever.
    birthright is about bringing jews to israel period. denying jews from the trip who otherwise meet the criteria, because they are “deemed unfit” is total bullshit. as the article describes, birthright seems to have what the organizers would see as a positive effect on the participants.

  13. “and i guess they can change the rules whenever they want. but when did they start saying what you could or couldn’t do with a birthright members extended stay. and since when was being a zionist a prereq.”
    As far as I know, there is no official birthright policy that says what one can and cannot do after the 10 day trip is over. But the screening process that happens before people are accepted into the program is used as a means of selecting the individuals whose intentions best fit with the Birthright mission of expanding their cultural horizons (since there are limited spots) and not just those who want a free ticket to the Palestinian territories. As for “hidden agendas,” each trip organizer (under the birthright umbrella) has different “agendas.” There are right leaning trips, left leaning trips, religious trips, pluralistic trips, etc. But they do all fall under a pro-Israel package. Yes, Birthright Israel, funded in part by the Israeli tourism cabinet, and in part by Jewish philanthropists and charity organizations, is pro-Israel. That doesn’t mean pro-Likud, just that they’re in favor of Israel’s right to exist.
    On a slightly off-topic note, Israel Experts, the birthright organizer whose trip I went on (and Schneider went on) recently had a group go from Wesleyan University, an extremely liberal and left wing campus, whose tour was specifically geared towards learning about all sides of the conflict. They brought in speakers from Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) the Yesha Council, some moderates, etc. Israel Experts knew full well that most of the students on this trip were pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli-government. They weren’t there to be indoctrinated by a right wing agenda, they were given more perspectives to the conflict. The result was that even though the students left the trip just as critical of Israeli policies as when they started, they better understood that Israeli government does not equal Israeli people, or even Israel as a whole. In their own words, they left with a love for Israel, the place. That being said, the organizers at Israel Experts still do not accept participants who they know are ISM members, since their intentions in going on a birthright trip are not to “learn more about the conflict,” but to get a free plane ride on El Al.

  14. The claim that Hurndall was wearing fatigues and was armed is ridiculous.. Front page ‘magazine’ is consistently full of bullshit
    There are photos that show that is a lie.. he was wearing a high visibility orange vest: here is one
    “Mr Hurndall’s group intended to stay the night in a tent in a street where an Israeli tank frequently fires into civilian houses, according to Raphael Cohen, another British activist who was there when Mr Hurndall was shot.”
    “Tom went and brought one boy back with him,” said Mr Cohen by telephone from Rafah. “But he saw two girls were still stuck there. He went back out for them and immediately he was hit in the head.”
    (Cohen) said the activists, who have been sleeping in Palestinian houses that have been coming under fire, had hung banners around the area saying they were there. Mr Cohen said Israeli soldiers had “shot the banners to shreds”
    from ‘Israeli army sniper leaves British peace activist brain-dead

  15. The point is that ISM is plain old subversive. If you get in the line of fire, chances are better that you’ll be hit. If you give someone a reason to aim at you, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate you demm that action, the odds triple.
    Just as the Palestinians are the pawns of the arab world, the Capo Jews of the ISM are ignorant of how good they have it. They are being used as cover and subterfuge, and when ISM is done with them, they will be turned upon. Sure, be mitneged when you’re young and idealistic, but be fooled? Wow. Passionate but Dumb. They will learn in time.
    The Birthlefters actions are questionable, but the ISM’s are more than suspect. ISM provides cover, shelter, and knowingly or unwittingly, assistance to terrorists. At the least they seek to legitimize Arab terror on civilians which any way you cut that, it is immoral.

  16. the ISM never gave shelter to terrorists. again, there is a lot of propaganda against ISM, but as I have shown through one example, most of it is simply propaganda.

  17. Israel Experts knew full well that most of the students on this trip were pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli-government. They weren’t there to be indoctrinated by a right wing agenda, they were given more perspectives to the conflict. The result was that even though the students left the trip just as critical of Israeli policies as when they started, they better understood that Israeli government does not equal Israeli people, or even Israel as a whole.
    That’s a good story — deserves wider airing. I think that folks who fit Birthright’s criteria and go on the trip in good faith are absolutely doing the right thing, and I think that Birthright is doing the right thing by including them.
    The key here is good faith. Those whose actions are informed by an attitude which sees the trip as a very clever subterfuge on their part — they’re pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes, practicing active resistance or whatever other chic cliché they pull out, etc. — are very justly excluded. This thing requires an open mind.
    The ironic thing is that this idea of “Birthleft” basically acts as a way to marginalise the Birthright program and crowd into a right-wing stance. Active attempts by Birthright to those who, for whatever reason, see Israel as an evil country and Jews as foreign interlopers in the Middle East, are effective tools for preventing this marginalisation (and polarisation) from taking place.
    On another note: Josh- draft dodgers are people who get out of the army by lying or other ways. Quite so. I understand Josh’s sentiments — many of us in the Diaspora grew up at a time when our communities very active in writing letters, staging protests, and engaging in other types of peaceful activism for freedom for Jewish-Soviet refuseniks. This appropriation of the term seems odd.
    But that’s a matter for debate. Draft dodgers, on the other hand, are people who run away from the draft, not who stay put and accept punishment for breaking the law. Trust me: where I live, entire university English departments are staffed by former Americans who fall into the former category. Or so it seems sometimes… 😉

  18. >But the screening process that happens before people are accepted into the program is used as a means of selecting the individuals whose intentions best fit with the Birthright mission of expanding their cultural horizons (since there are limited spots) and not just those who want a free ticket to the Palestinian territories
    yeah..i guess i can’t really comment on that, because my experience did not including any screening process. guess that only happens when they have enough people to fill up the trip. i was actually supposed to go on some outdoors adventure something or other, but because there were so few people, it all got combined into israel experts..but still..what could be better, from birthright’s point of view, than to have ten days to influence someone who feels so strongly about israel and the palestinians to want go there and volunteer with ism…it would probably make for a better trip for everyone…dialogue can get pretty boring when everyone agrees. in any case, i would prefer birthrigh be for jews, not zionists..
    say the ism and all that wasn’t the issue..what would the screening process be based on..who is more jewish, or who is more zionist?
    so i take it there is no naturei karta, or satmar birthright trips.

  19. asaf wrote:
    “ISM has nothing to do with terror”
    ISM systematically obstructs IDF operations aimed at preventing terror. (they even admit to attempting to obstruct IDF operations).
    I hope this helps

  20. Ariela,
    I was a madrich on a birthright trip run by IsraelExperts this past June (which bus were you?). IsraelExperts is definitely one of the more pluralistic trip organizers out there with an emphasis on education over dogma. I also work closely with their staff during the year so I know them as well as overiding birthright policy in general. It’s understood that anyone affiliated with the ISM will not be accepted on a birthright trip. Clearly however, as you noted, this does not mean that you cannot be critical of Israel.
    This was the second birthright trip I led and despite not being required to, I Googled all the names of all the participants on my trips. I do this to get to know them better and I send out an email introducing myself and introducing the group to themselves (nothing whacky, just stuff like “amongst you there are 3 Web designers, a future astronaut, 2 Varsity athletes, 2 Presidential Scholars, a bassist in a punk band and 2 accomplished artists…”).
    I also do this in order to discover ISM members. Why? Because the ISM encourages its members to lie and break Israeli law. In doing so they endanger themselves and others around them. I don’t want to be even partly involved in anything like that.
    On the last trip I led, one of the participants, who had been vocally critical of Israel, screamed out “terrorist” during Sharon’s speech at the mega event. I raced to where she was to ask the security staff if she had been detained as a result and they laughed at me and one of them said (in thick Israeli accents) “Israel is a democracy. We have free speech here.” This was one of Sharon’s security people by the way. There was some concern amongst the IsraelExperts staff but the participant in question was not disciplined. I had a chat with her though – very chill – but that was it. Oddly enough, 10 minutes after the incident, she was in her seat waving an Israeli flag with everyone else and singing along ….
    In any case, I think this incident speaks volumes and is a credit to the State of Israel, birthright israel and IsraelExperts. If only all our neighbours were as tolerant.

  21. Schneider:
    No there is no birthright trip run by haredim. Some Haredi Rabbis have even forbidden members of their community from participating in birthright programs. These are not even the anti-Zionist Rabbis. In any case …
    The selection process for birthright trips is almost always based on a first come first served basis. Whoever completes their application first gets on first. There is no test of the extent of one’s Jewishness or Zionistic inclination. The only people barred are Christian missionaries and ISMers.

  22. the “naturei karta, or satmar” thing was a bit tongue in cheek…
    Christian missionaries??? don’t you have to be a jew…
    whatever…barring jews who happen to currently be part of ism from going to israel just doesn’t sit well with me..
    i think that article brought up some understandable concerns:
    “They couldn’t understand why they failed to feel the kedushoh they had heard so much about” … “The overall nature of the trip and the choice of sites to visit was more suited to the secular Zionist approach and the explanations given by the official guides had Enlightenment undertones.”
    i find this just sad:
    “In Eretz Hakodesh, gedolei Yisroel wrote, “Gedolei haTorah of the Diaspora in America have already revealed their opinion, daas Torah, regarding the breach of arranging trips to Eretz Hakodesh in the framework of Birthright, which lacks any proper oversight and spiritual supervision, leading to numerous stumbling blocks in modesty and kashrus and exposure to a misleading worldview, and opinions contrary to the holy Torah in the framework of these trips.”
    “We hereby join them in their directive not to send talmidim and talmidos [yeshiva and seminary students] on these trips.
    “And be’ezras Hashem [G-D willing] those who heed us will merit nachas [pride] of kedushoh [holiness] from their children.”
    imho, birthright should work on how they can accomidate more different types of jews, than trying to figure out which jews they want to exclude…this is the holy land we are talking about.

  23. i’m sick of commies. Really, if I had one left-wing/socialist bone in my body during my early punk years, it was killed by the limitless supply of killjoys and culture-destroyers that are represented by groups like ISM. Socialism sucks.

  24. socialism. hahahahahahahahaha…. jboog I love u. communism died, nobody told u? the new enemy is islamo-facism.
    and Jimbo, whats your point? dont be lazy, i know its tempting.

  25. Schneider wrote:
    Christian missionaries??? don’t you have to be a jew…
    Yes. And “Jew” is broadly defined too. But sometimes people lie, or they are confused.
    whatever…barring jews who happen to currently be part of ism from going to israel just doesn’t sit well with me..
    I am not comfortable with it either, believe me. Despite being a Canuck, I am all about the first amendment and a free marketplace of ideas. But parents are already nervous enough about their children going to Israel. Imagine what a terible impact it will have on the program if a kid sent to Israel by birthright gets seriously injured? That’s why birthright programs are strictly regulated from a security perspective, and that’s why I have a problem with ISMers coming on birthright. Besides, do you really expect the Israeli government to subsidize the trips of people who come to Israel with the intent of breaking Israeli law??
    In any case, I know that birthright tries to be very accomodating. I can tell you that behind the scenes, and even not so behind the scenes, birthright goes out of its way to be participatory (I could tell you stories that would surprise you, but that would be indiscreet). The Haaretz article quotes Jessica Rutter as saying “When we felt comfortable, we began to ask critical questions, and they saw where we were coming from politically,” she says. “They talk about birthright as a family, and at the end of the trip, we were very much part of that family.” The leaders of her trip, she adds, “were very encouraging.”
    As far as spiritual supervision goes, I can’t speak to Haredi standards, but there are many different options – those that want a more religious trip can be accomodated by tour operators like Mayanot and Livnot, those that want to party hearty can go with Oranim, and those that want a good well balanced trip can go with my buddies, Israel Experts.
    There’s always an issue with the quantity and quality of spiritual programing when you are dealing with a predominantly secular crowd, too little is no good but too much tends to alienate people. It’s a tough call and you have to be nimble with your programing by utilizing on the fly assessments of what the group will find acceptable while simultaneously trying to accomodate the needs and desires of individual participants. No body is perfect, what can I say?

  26. ISM do not actively support terrorists but they do have a nasty habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Obstructing IDF operations could be seen as helping the people the IDF is after…

  27. 8opus,
    in most of the world, draft dodgers are usually conscientious objectors to foreign wars. So, IMO, there’s a major difference between refusing to serve far way from home in Vietnam, or the Falklands and refusing to serve in your own backyard while your fellow citizens are being attacked in time of war.
    In the bible there are two type of war; mitzva (optional-political) and hova (obligatory-security). In general, correct me if I’m wrong, you can refuse to take part in the first, and there are also numerous exemptions to get out of fighting but the second type is mandatory for all. In this week’s parsha, even 1000 Levites went to slaughter the Midianites with 12 000 other Israelites who were chosen not for physical stamina but for torah knowledge and ethics.

  28. CK –
    I went originally in January, 2003 as a participant with Israel Experts and then again this past winter as a madricha for them. I found that the entire organizing staff at IE (Joe, Gad, Gillian, Bill, Steve, etc.) are incredible people with diverse views and political approaches that help shape an overall balanced trip (as you mentioned).
    I have to say that meeting the staff and talking to them in depth showed me that it was (*gasp!*) possible to be critical of Israeli politics and still retain a true love for and connection to the land.
    Actually, I wanted to go again with them as a madricha this summer, but alas, they never asked 🙁 Meh. I still love ’em. 😛

  29. Okay, I feel like I should weigh in on this issue since I know Max and Jessica, and I feel like most people here are honestly engaging with this issue. Here are a few points that I don’t think have been mentioned yet:
    1) Israel controls, de facto, the Palestinian territories, as well as all ingress and egress from these territories. This means that if one wants to visit any Palestinian town or city, for any reason, one has to go through Israel. If one is not a Palestinian visiting relatives or going home, Israel is going to have questions about why that person is going to the territories. If one is entering Israel with the purpose of going to the territories, for any reason, one’s entry to the country will be most expedited by not mentioning plans to go to the territories. ISM’s policy of lying to the airport people has gotten a lot of flack from people posting on Jewschool, and I am not quite sure why. Isn’t it obvious that telling the truth about wanting to go to the territories will prevent one from being able to do it? There are many places in the world where people create false papers for themselves in order to expedite freedom of movement; I think each one has to be judged in context.
    A possible response to this is, as we will probably hear from Josh, “they’re going to help terrorists and Israel has every right to keep them out.” If, however, one does not assume that all Palestinians are terrorists, and if one thinks that some home demolitions might be illegitimate, or that Palestinians are treated in any way unjustly and can benefit from international help, this argument doesn’t fly. I happen to believe all those things. There should be a way for internationals to get to the territories and do non-violent activist work like Max and Jessica have been doing. If Israel wants to keep them out because it doesn’t like the PR damage ISM has been doing to it, I don’t consider that justified and frankly have no problem with them using deception to get in.
    2) Birthright is an organization for Jews. It is not an organization for Palestinians, who one might say also have a “birthright” to visit this land. As a private organization it has the right to define its mission however it likes, but as it currently defines it Max and Jessica qualified. Ariela wrote that she thought they shouldn’t have taken the trip because their ideas were already formed. But if you look at the article, they actually both say that Birthright changed their minds about some things. This shows that the trip benefited them in some way beyond just giving them a free ticket to the territories. From talks with both of them, I can say that they both honestly did get a lot out of the trip itself. So, I don’t see what the problem is.
    Also, there is no question that Birthright has a Zionist orientation. Are we now saying that non-Zionists shouldn’t be able to experience Zionist propaganda? It’s not like they cut all the activities. Or do we only want people with unformed views to be able to be molded by what I’m sure is a powerful tour and trip? Birthright is backed by a lot of money. They get the Prime Minister to talk to the kids who come on it. This is impressive stuff we’re dealing with and it is in the service of Israeli government policy, even when they make admirable efforts, like the one mentioned in the article, and the ones ck_dave talked about, to expose kids to different views.
    I was never eligible for Birthright, since I went on Ramah Seminar to Israel in 2000 for six weeks. But if I hadn’t done that, I might have taken the trip, and I can’t say that I would’ve spent my extra time on an extended ticket working in “Israel advocacy.” Where does one draw the line on acceptable post-trip activities?
    Finally, all the stuff about ISM helping terrorists should be thrown in the garbage. The thing about the Mike’s Place bombers was horribly regrettable, especially since it turned into fodder for dittoheads like the frontpage people to repeat over and over. But there is no question in my mind that they had no idea the two were planning to kill Israelis. The statement on ISM’s webpage about supporting Palestinian right to resist the occupation by arms is universally interpreted by people here as support of suicide bombers, but it could just as easily refer to attempts to repel IDF troops from Palestinian cities. Again, there are lots of questions here, and if I were involved in ISM I would take a more radical non-violent stance. But they are trying to gain credibility with the Palestinian population so as to work among them more easily, and to be trusted. And no matter what people here might say about the right of the Israeli army to smash Jenin every time a settler gets shot at, you are not going to be able to operate in Palestinian society if you loudly oppose irregulars trying to prevent incursions into Palestinian cities.

  30. Sam,
    I appreciate your candor and all but you are implying that one MUST lie in order to get into the territories administered by the PA. That’s simply not true. There are legions of humanitarian aid workers in the territories and none of them had to lie to get in. For instance, the 4 french foreign aid workers who were recently kidnapped by Palestinian militants from a café in Khan Yunis – did they lie to get in? No.
    So the problem isn’t with helping the Palestinians out. Believe me, I wish them well. The problem is with the ISM and their tactics.
    There should be a way for internationals to get to the territories and do non-violent activist work like Max and Jessica have been doing.
    There is. Join any of a large number of legitimate groups there offering humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. Teaching, or helping build infrastructure, or assisting with Health care is pretty non-violent and is by definition activist.
    If Israel wants to keep them out because it doesn’t like the PR damage ISM has been doing to it, I don’t consider that justified and frankly have no problem with them using deception to get in.
    The problem with the ISM is that they get good anti-Israel PR by endangeriing themselves and others. They put themselves in dangerous situations and get their greatest PR victories when one of their activists gets hurt or, better yet, killed (another martyr for Palestine!). I mean non-violence is nice and all, but the way ISM has been practicing it, its been pretty dangerous actually. The rest of the world only hears about ISM when ISM people die.
    The statement on ISM’s webpage about supporting Palestinian right to resist the occupation by arms is universally interpreted by people here as support of suicide bombers, but it could just as easily refer to attempts to repel IDF troops from Palestinian cities.
    Nice spin, but do you seriously think we’re that dumb? The ISM’s position is not to dictate to the Palestinians the means and methods of their resistance. The ISM believes that the Palestinians, and only the Palestinians, are best suited to determine their ideal methods of resistance. Thus the ISM really takes no position. But in doing so it does take a position. By not condemning suicide bombing as the gross thing that it is, you are implicitly agreeing with it. And the ISM knows this and the perception in the territories amongst the Palestinians is that the ISM supports it. This is what allows the ISMers to function unhindered.
    But you can’t have it both ways buddy. And just as you do not dictate to the Palestinians, you ought not dictate to the Israelis. If they feel that ISM activities pose a physical threat to their citizens (a reasonable supposition) then they are very justified in preventing ISMers from entering through their borders AND using their resources (birthright) to do so.

  31. Canuck_Jew, you are the perfect example that when something is repeated enough times, it becomes true.

  32. The ISM helps terrorists, supports the use of all weapons in the Palestinian ‘resistance’, and does not condone attacking Israeli buses, or toddlers next to their nursery.
    Asaf, how much longer can you deny it?
    It’s true, ISM sucks.

  33. Every single story of links of terrorism to ISM was debunked. I gave one example on this post.
    Give me allegations (concrete!) against ISM. meanwhile all I hear is lies and slogans.

  34. asaf wrote:
    Canuck_Jew, you are the perfect example that when something is repeated enough times, it becomes true.
    Nice little Goebbelsian analogy there asaf. Nothing discredits better than painting someone in broad Nazi stripes.Suffice it to say that offering succor and sustenance to the enemy can be done in numerous ways.
    The ISM is well versed in the practice of doublespeak, trotting out GAP ad ready spokespeople saying the most reasonable things for a Western audience and then burning flags and cursing like maniacs for an Arab audience. I think you know exactly what I’m talking about Asaf.
    The facts are as follows. The ISM thrives on publicity. The only time they get any significant publicity is when their actions come to their logical conclusions and one of their protesting activists die. Form follows function and it is completely reasonable for the Israeli government to barr the entry of these dumb asses.
    It’s that simple asaf.

  35. ck_dave, i may or may not agree with your statements about ISM. but i was referring to the following words: ” The ISM helps terrorists. ISM sucks.”
    thats simply lies.
    and regarding your comments. you have the full right to dislike this or that movement. barring them from israel says more about israel than it does on the ISM as far as I am concerned.

  36. asaf – please address Susan Barcley and the ISM harboring Islamic Jihad weapons smuggler Shadi Sukia, and I wouldn’t trust the official ISM PR statement that they were alarmed by his demeanor in the days before the IDF found him hiding out in their offices…

  37. asaf,
    With reference to the words The ISM helps terrorists. ISM sucks I think we can dispense with the second part. I contend that the ISM does indeed suck, but that’s a matter of opinion. As far as the ISM helping terrorists, well there’s help and there’s help, eh?
    Thomas Hurndle, an ISM martyr for Palestine, had an entry in his diary that read “A few hundred meters away there are army snipers, and each one of us can appear in a sniper’s telescopic sight. It is possible to say with certainty that they are watching us, and my life is in the hands of an Israeli marksman or settler. I know that I will probably never know what hit me, but that is part of my role – to be as exposed as possible.” [emphasis added]
    Hurndall took a bullet meant for someone else who was firing on an Israeli watchtower. I am sure that the “fighter” who was spared the bullet was thankful for Hurndall’s “assistance”. I am certain that Hurndall’s ISM handlers cried crocodile tears in light of all the great publicity his death generated.
    The ISM sees itself as a partner of those that will send suicide bombers into Israel – ” In actuality, nonviolence is not enough … But an action like this [martyrdom]cannot happen once and it cannot be the only type of action. Large-scale, mass popular participation must be developed in order for a movement to have an effect … The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects.” This is according to Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, two of the founders of the ISM and it’s leading spokespersons.
    The ISM, while officially eschewing suicide bombings targeted at civilians, none the less calls these people shaheed or martyrs and rushes over to there homes after a successful operation to offer moral support and legitimacy.
    But do they sometimes offer more than moral support? The Mike’s Place incident is unclear but definitely suspcious. ISM coordinator Susan Barclay attempted to bar entry to her office, in order to prevent the IDF from arresting Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya. That’s a pretty clear instance of assisting a terrorist, no?
    What do these things say about Israel? Just remember that only the ISM is subject to such restrictions… what it says is that Israel, like any other country in the world that has any sense, bars individuals who are a threat to its security from entering. Nothing wrong with that.
    Unless you have some other kind of objection?

  38. It says the ISM supports use of both non violent and violent means. so does the IDF. does that mean the IDF supports baruch goldstein methods? is there a racist undertone here?
    regarding the sukiya case. there are two issues there. first of all the army initially lied, claiming they found a pistol at the ISM office, afterwards saying they were not sure where they found it (ah, just another lie, no big deal, i am used to it). this was published in haaretz at the time and appears on the ISM website. on the website http://www.palsolidarity.org/about/proectterrorists.php) also appears the following text:
    “The first incident occurred on March 27th 2003, when 23 year old Palestinian, Shadi Sukiya, was invited into the ISM office in Jenin. The ISM members present were worried about him – it was the middle of the night, Jenin was under military curfew, and Sukiya showed up soaking wet, shivering, and looking terrified. The ISM members present didn’t speak Arabic, Sukiya spoke no English. He was given a change of clothes, a hot drink and a blanket. Soon afterwards Israeli soldiers entered the building and arrested Sukiya. In briefings made to the Associated Press, the Israeli military claimed that Sukiya was senior member of the Islamic Jihad, a pistol had been discovered in the ISM office and that two ISM volunteers were hiding Sukiya.”
    now, we got a problem here. should we believe the ISMers? there is no reason we should, i agree. but- well, the fact is i trust the IDF to crack down on the ISM organization if they possibly can, with or without proof. they even trashed sari nussieba’s offices. why didnt they do anything to the two ISMers?
    the same page includes explainations about the two terrorists from mikes place’s attack. these facts appeared in the newspapers and again- the army has no proof.
    i am not denying the fact that there is a possibility that the army’s allegations are true. but history shows (see tom hurndall story for instance) that the IDF HATES the ISM for many reasons, and the fact is it still didnt crack down on it in any official way. the IDF has the power to arrest for months any person who is deemed to be a security threat to israel, without any trial (administrive detention). for some reason all ISMers involved in the above cases werent arrested. this may be because the army is so generous and kind to those who are supposedly supporters of terrorists. if the IDF really believes its own allegations, its doing a very bad job in securing Israeli’s lives and the ISMers should be brought to a fair trial.

  39. Want to know about ISM don’t listen to “asaf” or whatever his real name is. Look at http://tinyurl.com/?qtgk
    Solidarity With Terror
    By Lee Kaplan
    FrontPageMagazine.com | July ?, ????
    This June I attended a ?training session? of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), an organization of volunteers whose purpose is to obstruct Israeli defense forces attempting to protect the civilian population from terrorist acts. The ISM was set up by the Palestinians after Arafat broke off the Oslo peace talks and launched the second intifada. Its organizers were Ghassan Andoni, a physics professor from Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, and Palestinian activists George Rishmawi and George Qassis. The idea was to bring in international volunteers, mostly radical students from the United States, Canada and Europe, as ?nonviolent peace activists? who would interfere with the Israeli army?s anti-terrorist operations. If the volunteers were injured or arrested, the international repercussions would be detrimental to Israel, a propaganda win for the PLO. The operation costs the Palestine Authority very little since many of the radical volunteers pay their own transportation costs and live in the homes of Palestinians during their stays in the Middle East.
    The ISM made international headlines when one of its activists, Rachel Corrie, a college radical from Olympia, Washington, was killed while attempting to block an Israeli bulldozer. The bulldozer was attempting to destroy tunnels from the Gaza strip through which the terrorists imported weapons and explosives. Corrie became a martyr to the cause, and inspiration to other radicals to follow.
    Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf of the ISM
    The most visible American figure in the International Solidarity Movement is Adam Shapiro, a Brooklyn Jew and college radical,who became a human shield for Yasser Arafat when the Israeli army surrounded Arafat?s Ramallah compound following the massacre of ?? Israelis ? some of them Holocaust survivors — at a Passover seder, shortly after the Intifada was launched. When I interviewed him last year, Shapiro told me point blank that he does not consider himself a Jew. He is married to Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American activist from Michigan whose father holds Israeli citizenship. They have become the spokespeople for the ISM in the United States. In articles on the ISM website where they discuss their goals of dismantling Israel by supporting Palestinian terrorists they use euphemisms such as ?legitimate resistance? or support for ?legitimate armed struggle? while claiming that they are nonviolent. The ISM uses as its motto ?by any means necessary.?
    Such means include the hiding of terrorists like Shadi Sukiya, who was arrested in an ISM office in the West Bank. An arms cache was also found in an ISM office. Two suicide bombers gained entry for their murderous agendas under the auspices of the ISM. These Pakistani Muslims from Great Britain entered Israel through Jordan as clients of the Alternative Tourism Group, an operation set up by Andoni to aid ISM volunteers coming to Israel. They then met with the ISM at their offices for an entire day in Gaza before proceeding on to Tel Aviv where they bombed a popular beach bar, Mike?s Place, killing three people.
    In the last three years the ISM has developed an extensive presence in the United States, while operating under several organizational names to avoid unwanted scrutiny of its operations. One of these entities, Al Awda (the Return in Arabic), is also known as the Palestine Right to Return to Return Coalition (PRRC). It is led by Mazen Qumsiyeh, a Yale geneticist. There are Al Awda chapters all over the United States, particularly in the vicinities of U.S. college campuses. Other ISM groups under the name SUSTAIN (Stop U.S. Taxpayer Assistance to Israel Now) operate in Los Angeles and New York. In New Jersey, the ISM supporters call themselves Palsolidarity. When the volunteers go to the Middle East to aid the PLO they go under the umbrella name of the International Solidarity Movement. When they hold events in the U.S. and Canada they call themselves the Palestine Solidarity Movement.
    The party line, however, is always the same. The right of so-called Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is ?unconditional? and Israel itself must become ?Palestine.? The number of actual refugees from that part of the former Ottoman empire where Israel was established in ???? was ???,???, most of whom are no longer alive. The number of refugees the Palestine Authority now recognizes is close to ? million. The population of Israel is ? million, including ? million Israeli Arabs. The math is simple and the desired result: the liquidation of the Jewish state.
    At the Palestine Solidarity Conference held at Ohio State last year, Adam Shapiro told me that the ISM has Palestinian ?handlers,? or undercover supervisors at all demonstrations against Israel. These supervisors direct attacks against the separation fence that is being built to keep suicide bombers and armed terrorists from infiltrating into Israel and other  targets. One of the handlers leading the current attacks on the security fence at the start of this summer?s campaign is a veteran of the Marxist terrorist group PLFP named Hisham Jam Joun. The ISM website, http://www.palsolidarity.org , openly proclaims that the organization is ?Palestinian-led.?
    I signed up for the ISM training session, after seeing their Internet announcement calling for volunteers for their new campaign, which they called ?Freedom Summer ????,? after the nonviolent campaign of the civil rights movement in the American south in the ?????s. There were similar announcements on local websites run by the ISM all over the United States.
    The phone number I dialed put me in touch with Paul LaRudee, a ?? year-old retired Berkeley professor who, along with his Lebanese wife, has been a leader of the ISM movement in the Bay Area. LaRudee assured me that they welcomed everybody, no matter how old or inexperienced. ?Most of our volunteers are in their sixties,? he said. I was advised if I wanted to train with the ISM I needed to attend an orientation lecture at The New College of San Francisco which was being given by an Arab-American named Jess Ghannam, a psychoanalyst and professor at the University of California Medical School.
    Ghannam?s lecture was a  two hour diatribe, reviewing the history of the Middle East.  It was so pathologically anti-Israel that it even reversed the famous slogan of the PLO, originating with Arafat?s uncle the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that the goal of Palestinian liberation was to ?drive the Jews into the sea.? In Ghannam?s version it was the Jews who intended to drive the Arabs into the sea, though how this could be done with ??? million people he failed to explain.
    Ghannam concluded his lecture by telling a story about an Israeli soldier who asked him for his ID card when he was at a checkpoint in the West Bank. The young soldier noticed that Ghannam was from the San Francisco Bay Area and, being friendly, mentioned he?d gone to Mt.Tamalpais High School near Ghannam?s home. ?Imagine!? Ghannam said indignantly, ?This soldier, a Jew born in the United States, had the nerve to ask me for my ID on my land!? Yet Ghannam had told us in the beginning of the lecture that he was also born in the United States.
    The following Saturday morning, June ??th, I arrived for my actual training.  The session was held at ???? Mission Street in San Francisco, a ratty storefront theater in a rundown area of the city that had a folding grid gate barring the entrance from the public.
    About ten of us showed up, counting both volunteers and trainers. Before we were allowed to enter the storefront, however, we had to go through a simulated interrogation by an ?Israeli border guard? impersonated by a woman named Jamie, who was a social worker for the city of San Francisco.
    Jamie took her role very seriously. We learned later that she was an ISM veteran, having been a volunteer in Israel two years earlier as a member of San Francisco?s Jews For A Free Palestine (JFFP) and would be going again this summer.
    Jamie went through my belongings and, on finding my notes from the ISM orientation lecture, asked me why I an Arabic name like Jess Ghannam appeared in my notebook.. Playing the game, I replied that I thought Jess was a Christian name and that I had no idea that Ghannam was an Arab. She asked me what hotel I was staying at in Israel, to which I replied the Sheraton. She allowed me to pass inside, and then turned to the next signup.
    After everyone passed through the interrogation ritual, the gate was secured with a big padlock so nobody could get in or out. We were told we were in there for the entire day with just a brief break for lunch, a potluck meal which we had all been asked to contribute to.
    Now that we had entered ?Israel,? Jamie continued with the instruction. She had us form a circle and then led a discussion of the ?border checkpoint? we?d just been through. I was told I did the right thing to get past the guard by lying that I had not realized Ghannam was an Arabic name and making up the hotel, since I would be actually staying with Palestinians. In other words, the ISM training session began with the idea of breaking the law to enter a democratic country by deceiving its border guards. In fact, everything we were instructed to do in the course of our training while we were in Israel would involve some form of breaking Israeli law.
    Jamie then handed out ISM training manuals, big thick white notebooks containing eight sections, a text designed for would be infiltrators and subversives. Inside were articles authored by radical groups like the War Resisters League, Act Up, Direct Action and a several ?anti-global? organizations. There were also internal ISM documents. They contained valuable information on how to disrupt the Israeli law enforcement and defense officials as effectively as possible. Jamie admonished us, ?You see what it might be like when you try to enter Israel. Don?t bring your manuals with you!?
    We then introduced ourselves. The first in the circle to do so was Mahera, a Palestinian-American woman in her late twenties who we were told would also be training us.
    Mahera told everyone she works for the San Francisco office of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). I learned later that our orientation lecturer, Jess Ghannam, was on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco chapter of the same organization, which bills itself as a non-profit civil rights advocacy group for Muslims and Arab-Americans. Glancing through my manual I noticed it referred us to ?the ADC reader.?
    Many will be familiar with the ADC through its communications director, Hussein Ibish, who frequently appears on television talk shows, and promotes the ADC as a civil rights organization for Muslim-Americans in no way involved with aiding Middle East terrorism.
    As Adam Shapiro had informed me earlier, the group was told that the ISM is a Palestinian-led movement and that we were under the leadership of the Palestinians who had professional handlers to oversee what we would be doing. Once we were in the West Bank there would be veteran ISM leaders to guide us, but that the Palestinian handlers had ultimate control.
    The first woman in the circle identified herself as Barbara Miles, who said her maiden name was Zakasia and that she was Lebanese-American. Barbara described how she had visited Syria to support of the regime there. She asked if having ?Syria? stamped on her passport would prevent her from getting into Israel. ?Get a new passport,? Jamie advised. ?It?s easy.?
    Ian Trenallio
    The next to introduce himself was Ian Trenallio who was from Lake Tahoe and wore a T-shirt that said ?anti-hate, anti-capitalist, anti-Zionist.? Ian told us he formerly had lived in San Pablo, a suburb of Berkeley. He had recently been to Tijuana, he said, to protest economic globalization and now he wanted to ?help the Palestinians.? ?Don?t say to the border guard you are there to help the Palestinians!? Jamie interjected. ?The goal is to have the Israeli guards think you are a tourist. The Israeli economy is hurting because the war has killed tourism and we want to take advantage of that.?
    To continue reading this article, Click Here

  40. Thanks to Teri for not paying attention to the fact that we already argued about this stupid article.
    I read the article by Adam and Huwaida that ck_dave linked to. I didn’t quite find the meaning he was drawing from it. The article I read advocated that Hamas bombers should instead sit as human blockades on settler roads built in their territory. Is ck_dave trying to tell me this is somehow advocating suicide bombing or partnership in it?

  41. The ISM openly admits they use PFLP operatives like Hisham Jam Joun to train their
    activists. At Duke University Huwaida Arraf admited they work with Islamic Jihad and Hamas, all known terrorist groups.They are “Palestinian-led.”They do not protest any violence against Israelis,even civilians, even children. They aid terrorists. Period.
    For the TRUTH about Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie, go to http://www.dafka.org and type their names into teh search engine under “News and Commentary” on the left side.

  42. I went undercover with the ISM. The ISM is part of the PLO posing as a “peace group.” It is directed by the PLO and has PLO handlers at events in the West Bank.
    The goal of the ISM is to dismantle Israel, not encourage peace. To that effect,
    it is a war movement masquerading as a peace movement. Any Jew who would work as a volunteer for them is a traitor or a useful idiot (usually the latter). I was the one who exposed the birthright misuse after I interviewed Adam Shapiro. Shapiro is an apostate Jew by his own definition who would never mind saying he’s a Jew if it was to destroy Israel. ISM is also a training ground for the US and worldwide Anarchist Movement.
    I have their manuals and trained with them. Visit http://www.stoptheISM.com .

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