Huwaida Arraf uses much of the opportunity Eugene graciously afforded her to respond to my previous post on the International Solidarity Movement, which she co-founded with her husband Adam Shapiro, to promote standard ISM anti-Israel propaganda only tangentially related to what I wrote.
Let’s instead stick to the issue that prompted the exchange, which is a dispute over ISM’s ideology.
Arraf seems to believe that my quoting from ISM’s own website and Twitter feed and from her own writings constitute “distortions” that amount to “twist[ing] our words.”
To review, I made two assertions. First, that the International Solidarity Movement is “pro-terrorist,” and second, that contrary to Arraf’s claim that ISM “has always been quite clear that … we only support nonviolent means of resistance,” in ISM’s early days Arraf and Shapiro explicitly endorsed violence by others of as a necessary adjunct to their own nonviolent work.
On the pro-terrorist issue, I pointed to, as a very telling example, ISM’s 2013 support of PFLP terrorist Samer Issawi, who was convicted of attempted murder of Israeli civilians.
Despite all her verbiage, Arraf does not, and cannot, dispute that (a) no one, including Issawi himself, has made the case that he was innocent of the charges; and (b) ISM didn’t just call him (and every other terrorist in Israeli jails) a political prisoner, and didn’t just provide a forum for him on its website, but called him a “freedom fighter.”
Arraf purports to be outraged that I suggested that ISM considers Israeli students and professors legitimate targets, but the man ISM calls a freedom fighter, among other crimes, “fired at two students walking from the Hebrew University campus to their car in a nearby parking lot.”
More generally, ISM has shown itself to be pro-terrorist from its early years until today.
Back in the ISM’s early days, during the second intifada, just a short time after Yasser Arafat had responded to Ehud Barak’s offer to “end the occupation” by initiating a war of terror against Israel, ISM activists tried to thwart Israeli military operations against terrorists, most famously by joining Arafat and his terrorist compatriots in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during Israel’s siege in 2002.
In April 2003, with battles raging on the West Bank between Israeli military forces and various Palestinian terrorist groups as Israel put down the second intifada, ISM bragged that its foreign volunteers were acting “as human shields in cities, towns and refugee camps.”
As for today, you can check ISM’s Facebook page, which in the last week has had several posts promoting an annual day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. If ISM is troubled by the fact that some of these prisoners with whom it seeks solidarity are terrorists in jail for brutal murders, such as the 2002 Passover seder massacre that killed twenty-eight Israelis celebrating the holiday and wounded 140, it’s not the least bit apparent (as it’s not from Arraf’s own thoughts on Palestinian prisoners in her post).
I’d be happy to post Arraf’s direct yes or no response to this question: do you (and/or ISM) believe that the perpetrators of this massacre belong in jail?
With regard to ISM’s purported ideological, as opposed to tactical, commitment to nonviolence, I pointed to a 2002 article written by Arraf and Shapiro and published on ISM’s website in which they endorsed violence against Israelis, including civilians, several times, including by writing that “the Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent” and “should use any means necessary.” They gave as an example of proper “violent resistance” when a Palestinian gunman shoots “an Israeli who is oppressing him.”
Arraf invited her audience to read the article, but I can’t imagine she sincerely wants it to, because it’s simply impossible to read it and conclude that ISM “has always been quite clear that … we only support nonviolent means of resistance.”
I could have also pointed out that in July 2003, the Jordan Star interviewed Shapiro, and reported that he “justifies the Palestinian armed resistance against Israel as long as it is targeting Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Otherwise, he is not in favor of suicide bombings.” So much for any “quite clear” opposition to violent “resistance.”
Not surprisingly, ISM attracted activists who, like the co-founders, saw nonviolence as a tactic, not a moral principle. For example, Joe Carr, ISM’s local coordinator in Rafah in early 2003 when Rachel Corrie was accidentally killed there while trying to impede Israeli military operations, explains, “I find nonviolent tactics powerful and effective, but violence & property destruction have been and always will be an essential part of revolutionary movements.”
Even today, ISM’s official opposition to “the tactic of suicide bombings” on its English-language FAQ page is hardly unequivocal, but rather suggests that such “tactics” are the natural and unavoidable outcome of “the occupation.”
So, again, I’m not arguing that ISM is itself a terrorist organization, nor questioning its commitment to nonviolence as a tactic, nor I am suggesting that everyone affiliated with ISM now or in the past approves of terrorism. But there was nothing mistaken in my previous post.