In the immediate aftermath of the bloodbath perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists, the Institute for Palestine Studies showcased a star-studded cast of Palestinian terrorist sympathizers posing as scholars. Without the slightest acknowledgement of the murder of Jewish innocents that hung in the shadow of the event, the panel lamented the “criminalization” of pro-Palestinian activism.
Prior to the seminar, a pleasant older woman initiated a conversation with me. She is from “Palestine” and is in the U.S. visiting her children. One of her sons moved to Lebanon years ago to join the PLO. He’s been “missing” since the Lebanese civil war in 1976. However, she and all her children are “very active” in the Palestinian cause. Her “geography” and “religion” require it.
In an audience packed with pro-Palestinian activists, held at SEIU headquarters in Washington, DC, a panel on the “Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism” began. It was moderated by Khalid Rashidi, an activist of Palestinian descent, whose views are so skewed that the ADL accused him of manipulating history and distorting reality to the point where it is “unrecognizable.” His views on Palestine go well beyond mere support for “oppressed” Palestinians. In past talks, he identified with the PLO so strongly that he repeatedly included himself by stating “we” when discussing the PLO’s agenda. But that didn’t stop Columbia University from making him the head of its Middle East studies division and giving him a professorship teaching classes to unwitting students. Not surprisingly, Rashidi is also good friends with President Barack Obama.
Rashidi started the two hour seminar by asserting that “those who oppose Palestinian rights have a hard time when the story gets out. No one wants to be an advocate of colonization, unequal rights and oppression.” The pro-Palestinian view is exploding in churches, unions, and most of all, on college campuses. According to Rashidi, it is only “ignorance”, “disinformation and misinformation” that leads Americans to hold a “Zionist viewpoint.”
Andrew Dalack, with the Palestine Subcommittee of the National Lawyer’s Guild, provides legal support for pro-Palestinian activists. His most notorious client was Rasmea Odeh, who currently sits in jail awaiting sentencing on her conviction for immigration fraud. Twice, she lied on her application for citizenship to the U.S., falsely claiming she had no criminal record. In fact, she had been imprisoned in Israel on a terrorist conviction for blowing up a grocery store, killing numerous innocent civilians. She also was active with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, though according to her attorney, she joined prior to its designation as a terrorist organization. Dalack, a young, articulate attorney, had an excuse for every aspect of Odeh’s situation. She misunderstood the application’s question, she really wasn’t guilty of the charge despite her conviction, she said the IDF personnel raped and tortured her, and the U.S. judge on her case was a “Zionist”.
When DHS arrested her at her home, she became the “face” of a national movement. Dalak explained that “if you come after one Palestinian, you come after all of us.” To him, the real reason Odeh was indicted was her pro-Palestinian “activism”. “Now”, he stated, “we are all under the government’s magnifying glass.” And, in a theme that would weave itself throughout the seminar, he insisted that prosecutions were “selective” due to political views and intended to intimidate.
Dima Rashidi, (Khalid Rashidi’s daughter) is an attorney who started an organization called “Palestine Solidarity Legal Support” (PSLS). It works closely with the far-left Center for Constitutional Rights, largely funded by George Soros. Her organization provides legal assistance, advocacy, and interventionism for pro-Palestinian activists, especially on college campuses. Their activities, sparked by Cast Lead’s “assault on Gaza” and the growth of the BDS movement, should all be protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment she explained. Her presentation expressed two themes. First, was that it’s the government’s intent to “silence, crush and criminalize” pro-Palestinian activity. Second, “Zionist groups” pressure the U.S. government to repress activism and “the government follows suit.” She claimed that the NSA and the NYPD visited “coffee shops, barbershops and everywhere a Muslim can be found” in order to collect information. Pro-Palestinian activists are treated “disparately” from others, receiving “selective prosecutions.” She insisted that the government “targets” Palestinians simply for fundraising. She cited the freezing of Islamic charities like the Holy Land Foundation and the prosecution of Sami al-Arian, who sits in jail on a terrorism-related conviction. Rashidi completely omitted that these charities funnel money to Hamas, a State-designated terrorist organization.
Rashidi also complained of activities that “chill speech.” Ironically, she cited as support for her claim, the arrest of eleven students at UC Irvine, who shouted down Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, preventing him from speaking. The students, warned in advance of the consequences, were arrested for disrupting a public event. To Rashidi, removing the silencers of speech constitutes the “chilling of speech”.
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Deborah Weiss, Esq. is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network” and the author for “Council on American-Islamic Relations: It’s Use of Lawfare and Intimidation.” Her work can be found at www.vigilancenow.org