Cartoon from the FPM website: initiative to send passengers to Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport
Paul Larudee and Nidal Saleh
Palestinian Right to Return Coalition
The Free Palestine Movement
Cartoon from the FPM website: initiative to send passengers to Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, the so-called “Palestine by air.”
1. Dozens of anti-Israeli activists, networks and organizations, most of them Palestinian and some Western, are preparing a mass propaganda display at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on or around July 8. The event is called "Bienvenue Palestine" or "Fly-in Action" (or Ahalan wasahalan fi Filastin in Arabic, "Welcome to Palestine"). They are also planning a series of events (lasting until July 16) in Judea and Samaria and in Israel to show solidarity with the Palestinians and defame Israel.
2. On or around July 8 hundreds of activists are supposed to arrive in Israel from around the world. The plan to confront the Israeli authorities at the airport by publicly announcing their intention to reach the Palestinian Authority-administered territories. The plan may escalate into a protest with a demand for the so-called "right of return," and a protest against Israel’s preventing foreign nationals from freely entering the "occupied Palestinian territories." The organizers intend to use passive resistance if an attempt is made to put them on planes to return them to their countries of origin, but past experience has shown that "passive resistance" can deteriorate into violence.
3. They are supposed to leave Ben-Gurion Airport to engage in solidarity activities with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and in Israel. According to the campaign organizers, there will be a week’s worth of solidarity activities with Palestine, from planting olive trees to marches protesting the security fence and settlements. Such events, they claim, will be held in Ramallah (July 9), Bethlehem (July 10), Jenin, Nablus and the Galilee (July 11), Hebron and the Jordan Valley (July 12), the Negev and Lod (July 13), and Jerusalem (July 14-15).2 A final event may also be held (July 16).
4. The timing of the propaganda display and connected events is, according to the organizers, related to the decision of the International Court in the Hague according to which the security fence (the so-called "wall" and "apartheid wall" by the organizers) is illegal. However, in reality, the display and various events are part of the campaign to delegitimize Israel, and are another aspect of the anti-Israeli defamation propaganda campaign, with a series of events including Nakba Day and Naksa Day, and the current flotilla (whose participants and ships have run into many difficulties, and remain in the Piraeus and other Greek ports). The time tables of the various propaganda events and the flotilla may overlap as some of the ships eventually manage to sail.
5. Behind the propaganda and related events are dozens of networks and groups in Judea and Samaria and abroad. Most of them are Palestinian organizations from the Palestinian territories3 which have been joined by anti-Israeli American networks such as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Al-Awda ("the return"). Both networks are active in the campaign to delegitimize Israel: the ISM sends activists from abroad to friction points in Judea and Samaria such as Bila’in and Ni’lin, and its senior members have key roles in the flotilla campaign as part of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM). Al-Awda specializes in disseminating the concept of the so-called "right of return" in collaboration with activists and other organizations. (See Appendix II)
6. The fly-in is a new, as yet untried initiative, bringing activists and ordinary civilians to Ben-Gurion International Airport to protest and create a media circus. According to the plans, they will then be joined by Palestinian and foreign activists in Judea and Samaria, and according to the plan devised by the organizers, events will also be held within Israel (in the Galilee, the Negev and Jerusalem). The events are intended to create global public awareness for the so-called "right of return," show solidarity with the Palestinians, protest the security fence and settlements and protest Israel’s banning foreign nationals from freely entering the "occupied Palestinian territories." The planned event is a continuation of the flotilla, and under the present circumstances a replacement for the flotilla, which has encountered many difficulties (including broad international reservations concerning its objectives and conduct).
7. According to announcements made by the organizers of the fly-in, the activists/passengers who arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport plan to defy the Israeli authorities in order to focus attention on the difficulties Israel poses for their reaching the Palestinian Authority-administered territories. They will claim they want to visit "Palestinian friends" and refuse to commit themselves in writing not to enter the territories. The organizers are of the opinion that that will present Israel with a challenge it will find hard to deal with.4
8. The planners of the propaganda display are aware that they may be delayed at Ben-Gurion Airport by Israeli security forces and that they may be detained for a short period and later deported from Israel (some of them, like Paul Larudee, have practical experience). In our assessment they are preparing themselves for the possibility and have planned measures to make difficulties for Israel, for instance by refusing to board return flights, receiving legal advice (including from Israeli lawyers) and accompanying the events with a media campaign
9. We do not have concrete information about the practical status of the plan. As in the past, discrepancies may appear between the plans and the possibility of executing them.
The planned "Fly-in Action"
(Update to July 4, 2011)
1. Between July 8 and 16, the campaign organizers plan to fly several hundred (500-600) activists/passengers from countries in Europe, North America, South America and other countries to Israel. They are supposed to arrive in Israel at the same time and announce their intention to visit the Palestinian territories (as opposed to the previous tactic of hiding their true intentions by claiming to be tourists). According to the organizers, the action will turn them from isolated individuals to a "collective" and their action to "a mass act of solidarity."
2. The organizers of the event are aware the activists/passengers may be stopped in the airport and deported from Israel, and the fly-in participants have been briefed regarding the possibility. It is possible that they have been instructed to refuse to board the return flights, run riot in the airport, make extensive use of legal tools and of the media, and be aided and supported by Israeli residents and organizations (which may come to the airport to welcome them).
3. Dr. Paul Larudee, Paul Wilder according to his current passport, is an American and one of the founders of the ISM. Today he heads the Free Palestine Movement (FPM), an anti-Israeli network based on the West Coast. He is one of the initiators of the idea of using the "fly-in" campaign to obtain publicity for the so-called "right of return." He is experienced in anti-Israeli activities and was detained and deported from Israel by the courts in 2006. He also participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla, and was supposed to participate in the current flotilla.
4. In a taped briefing (apparently from the beginning of May) posted on YouTube, Paul Larudee explained the general outline of his program. He claimed the names of the participants were kept secret but that several well-known individuals might join the project, among them Norman Finkelstein, an anti-Israeli American political scientist and critic of Alan Dershowitz; the British George Galloway (who heads Viva Palestina, an organization specializing in dispatching convoys to the Gaza Strip); and Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
5. According to Larudee, anyone participating in the plan had to be prepared to be detained and spend up to two weeks in an Israeli jail. His demands on the participants were the following:
1) Participants had to be citizens of countries which did not need a visa to enter Israel. He said he had a list of countries issued by the Israeli foreign ministry of countries whose citizens need an entrance visa for Israel.
2) It was desirable that Palestinians arriving in Israel come from families expelled from villages inside the Green Line and who could "prove" their ancestry (to emphasize their claim to the "right of return"). According to a previous interview with Larudee on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV on July 16, 2010, the Palestinians would come with copies of deeds to their lands and photographs of their families who lived in Israel before 1948.
3) Participants would have to be prepared to be detained and imprisoned. They would also have to use tactics of nonviolent resistance to prevent being deported, for example by stating that if they were forced on board they would violate airplane regulations, in which case the captain would not be able to fly them out.
Paul Larudee and Nidal Saleh (apparently FPM activist) briefing activists
about the propaganda display planned for July 8 (YouTube).
Profile of the three American networks participating in the fly-in propaganda display
1. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)5 is an anti-Israeli network of activists founded in the summer of 2001 by a group of extreme American leftists. They were joined by leftist Palestinian activists (primarily Christian) and several extreme leftist pro-Palestinian Israelis. The founders recruited volunteers from various Western countries, some of them Jews, on a platform of fundamental hostility to Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians. Four prominent ISM members are Huwaida Arraf (the leading figure in both the ISM and the FGM), her (Jewish) husband, Adam Shapiro, Greta Berlin and Paul Larudee (who quarreled with the FGM and founded a new organization on the West Coast called the Free Palestine Movement). Arraf, Shapiro and Berlin are currently in Athens and head the FGM, the umbrella network with a central role in the flotilla campaign.
2. The ISM’s stated objective is to provide international support for the Palestinian cause and to demonstrate solidarity by using non-violent tactics which it refers to as "direct action" (a term taken from the lexicon of extreme leftist revolutionary and human rights movements). However, several times in the past such tactics deteriorated into violence directed against the Israeli security forces.
3. Between 2001 and 2005, the years of the second intifada (the Palestinian terrorist campaign), ISM volunteers who came for short periods of time waged intensive activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (the Palestinian territories). The volunteers began arriving in December 2001. They did not merely make do with helping the Palestinian population, but specialized in obstructing IDF operational activities.
4. Their activities included: participating in Palestinian protest demonstrations and rallies, serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces, locating themselves near IDF roadblocks throughout Judea and Samaria, providing the Palestinians (including terrorist operatives and their families) with financial, logistic and moral support, hindering the razing and sealing of houses of suicide bombers, holding protests along the security fence from Jenin to Jerusalem, etc. Two of what the ISM considered its peak activities (according to the movement website) were sending activists to serve as human shields at the entrances to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and to Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah (in April 2002, during Israel’s anti-terrorist Operation Defensive Shield).
5. After the second intifada senior ISM activists moved the focus of their activities and campaigns to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas was gaining a foothold before its violent takeover in June 2007. Four senior American ISM activists were key in founding an international pro-Hamas umbrella network called the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), which currently focuses on sending ships to the Gaza Strip for the stated purpose of "breaking the siege," but in fact their actual objectives were to strengthen the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip and intensify the delegitimization of Israel.
6. Besides its involvement in the flotilla campaign, since the end of the second intifada the ISM has been active in two main fields:
A. Sending volunteers to protest demonstrations at focal points of Palestinian-Israeli friction, such as Bila’in: The activities are held in conjunction with local Palestinian popular committees. The committees are sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, which, since the sixth Fatah conference, held in August 2009, adopted a policy of "popular resistance." The "popular resistance" is represented by the ISM (and the Palestinian Authority) as non-violent, but in reality it often employs well-organized, "soft" violence, such as throwing stones at and physically assaulting IDF soldiers, and the occasional Molotov cocktail. In many instances there have been casualties among both demonstrators and Israeli security forces. The "softly" violent activities are committed by Palestinians, but the presence of ISM and other foreign activists at the friction points heightens the tension, whips up emotions and encourages the demonstrators to violence, making it difficult for the Israeli security forces to act.
B. Participation (with other activists and networks) in anti-Israeli activities in the United States and European and other countries worldwide: The activities include calls for boycotting Israel and its products and protests against its policies toward the Palestinians (especially a demand to lift the so-called "siege" of the Gaza Strip and to destroy the security fence). In protest demonstrations in various countries, Israel is repeatedly represented as racist, oppressive and employing a "policy of apartheid," done to demonize Israel, subvert its legitimacy and turn it into a pariah state. Anti-Israeli activities include demonstrations in various cities, agitation on campuses, initiating pro-Palestinian "cultural" events and attempts to influence the centers of political power in various countries. ISM activists engage in anti-Israeli hate propaganda in the visual and digital media, via the Internet, and in books and plays.
7. The ISM is a network without a formally defined hierarchy. It has a hard core of senior activists who formulate policy and direct the anti-Israeli campaigns activities of its supporters and volunteers in the territories and around the world. The ISM does not receive government funding and its volunteers pay their expenses out of their own pockets. Its activity is based in and focused on the United States (primarily the West Coast), Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Beit Sahour and Gaza City), several European countries (especially Britain, France and Sweden), and Australia and Canada.
8. The anti-Israeli ISM ideology: The ISM frequently represents itself as against violence and in favor of human rights, as respecting international law and UN resolutions, and as striving for a "just peace." However, an examination of its official publications and the statements made by its senior figures indicates that its orientation and ideology are anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist, adopting the Palestinians’ most extreme demands. Its hostility to Israel is often based on a critical worldview of the United States and its policies, especially regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11 attacks. The ISM not only rejects the policies of every Israeli government ("the Israeli apartheid in Palestine"), but also the existence of Israel as a national homeland for the Jews. Publications and statements of ISM activists stress the implementation of the Palestinian refugees’ "right of return" to Israel, reject the Oslo Accords, and make no mention of a two-state solution.
9. There are many prominent important Jewish and Israeli figures in the ISM, and/or those who have some connection to the Jewish people and are proponents of anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist ideology: Adam Shapiro, one of the founders, is American, Jewish and married to Huwaida Arraf, the most prominent ISM personality. Her father is an Arab who was born in Israel. Neta Golan, another founder and senior activist in the territories, is an Israeli woman who married a Palestinian and lives in Ramallah. Greta Berlin, also a founder, was married to a Jew. In addition, the ISM is in contact with extreme leftists in Israel, some of whom are anarchists. They participated in ISM activities during its first years until they split and joined an organization called "Anarchists Against Fences."
10. Al-Awda (the "return;" its full name is the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, PRRC), was established in April 2000 and is an anti-Israeli network based in the United States. Its general coordinator is Salman Abu Sitta, who founded the PRC, a parallel organization based in Britain.
11. Like the British PRC, Al-Awda’s main objective is to promote the concept of the so-called "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees through intensive propaganda activities, including accusing Israel of slaughtering Palestinians and "ethnic cleansing." Its demand to return the Palestinian refugees is intended to cause a change in Israel’s demography and nature as a Jewish state and to promote its overall goal of establishing a Palestinian state from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.
12. Al-Awda’s activities include organizing demonstrations, hosting conferences and regional and international conventions, and organizing artistic events and tours. It also conducts political propaganda activities involving members of the United States Congress. Al-Awda collaborates with anti-Israeli organizations waging the campaign to delegitimize Israel. For example, in solidarity marches organized by Al-Awda in 2002, during the second intifada, the network distributed T-shirts to participants. The shirts read "Intifada – Palestine will be free from the river to the sea" (discoverthenetwork.org website). Or, for example, at a meeting of the organization in Toronto, Al-Awda objected to the Road Map and supported the second intifada.
13. The Free Palestine Movement (FPM) is a California-based extreme leftist network with several branches around the United States. It represents itself as a human rights organization, but in reality it is an anti-Israeli network dealing with political propaganda with the objective of defaming the State of Israel and eroding its legitimization. In reality, its methods promote the Hamas political agenda.
14. Dr. Paul Larudee, aka Paul Wilder, is the network’s most prominent member and the moving spirit behind its operations. He is a radical leftist American activist, hostile to Israel, with an Iranian father and an American mother. He holds a PhD in languages from Georgetown University. He was a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement and the International Solidarity Movement, two organizations which play dominant roles in the international campaign being waged to delegitimize Israel.
1 Supplement to the June 1 ITIC bulletin "Anti-Israeli organizations examine implementing propaganda displays based on flying large numbers of activists to Ben-Gurion Airport on commercial flights" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e197.pdf.
2 Bienvenue Palestine website; SWtak.com website, from PNN, July 3; stoptheism website, July 3, 2011.
3 For the list of organizations see the June 1 bulletin, above. Other groups have apparently joined them.
4 However, past experience with the methods of the ISM (which has gained a great deal of experience in the field) and similar organizations, some of the passengers are liable to hide their identities and reasons for coming to Israel (for example by pretending to be tourists, using various cover stories or using forged passports). Activists may also pretend to be innocent passengers, for example by coming with their wives and children, activists and passengers may arrive who are not known to the security authorities, or by devising plausible cover stories, all to make it difficult for the security personnel examining them at their ports of departure and on arrival in Israel.
5 For further information about the ISM see the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center study "The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a network founded by extreme American leftists and part of the campaign to delegitimize Israel" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e149.pdf.