For years, the Palestinian activist Issa Amro has told credulous journalists that he is “inspired by Gandhi” and firmly committed to “non-violent resistance.”

One of the most recent examples is a puff piece by the Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor, who describes Amro as an admirable “nonviolent dissident” and suggests he might even be considered a “Palestinian Gandhi.”

But as I will show, it would have taken only a quick look at the recent social media activity of Amro and his group Youth Against Settlements (YAS) to realize that the image he presents to journalists may just be a flimsy façade that hides an intense hatred of Israel and a burning ambition to see the world’s only Jewish state replaced by yet another Arab-Muslim majority country.

The “Gandhi” Façade

The journalists who are content with simply passing on whatever Issa Amro tells them can point to Amnesty International, which has also faithfully parroted Amro’s claims. Amnesty has described Amro as “a Palestinian human rights defender who runs the Youth Against Settlements group in Hebron,” asserting that Amro and his group “are committed to non-violent activism against the illegal settlements in Hebron and the discriminatory restrictions placed on Palestinians by the Israeli authorities in the city.”

Human Rights Watch also considers Amro a “human rights defender,” and the group’s “Israel and Palestine Consultant” Khulood Badawi – a former UN employee who was fired after making a blood-libel-style accusation against Israel – recently denounced charges brought by an Israeli military tribunal against Amro as baseless because they are “related to his nonviolent activism.”

As noted in a news report about the legal proceedings against Amro, his case “has made waves in the US, where four Democratic lawmakers circulated a letter calling for the United States to urge Israel to reconsider charges against him. The letter was circulated by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who serves as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, as well as Reps. Marc Pocan of Wisconsin, Betty McCollum, from Minnesota, and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. It urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to pressure Israel.”

Amro claimed in a tweet that there were altogether “39 members of congress who sent letters of support for me to the US State Department;” and during a recent visit to the US, Amro met with several Democrats and leftwing political leaders, including Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, Marc Pocan, Don Beyer, Alan Lowenthal, Betty McCollum, Suzanne Bonamici, Adam Smith and Lou Correa.

Association with anti-Israel activists

While sharing images from his meetings in Washington on social media, Amro also posted a photo on Twitter that showed him posing with the notorious anti-Israel activist Ariel Gold flashing a victory sign.  Gold was also in the photo Amro posted from his meeting with Congressman Lou Correa, and Amro explicitly credited Gold’s current employer Code Pink “for leading on the work to support me.”

Moreover, Amro re-tweeted a Code Pink campaign that urged the group’s supporters: “Thank @SenSanders for meeting with @IssaAmro & tell him to continue supporting Palestinian human rights!”

 

Given what Ariel Gold and Code Pink stand for – which I will outline below – their support of Amro indicates that he likely shares the goal of their activism, which is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. It is therefore noteworthy that Amro posted the cited tweets between September 27 and September 29 – roughly a week before the Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor published his puff piece on Amro.

So while Washington Post readers were encouraged to admire Amro as a “Palestinian Gandhi,” he was entirely open about his associations with people who engage in the vilest anti-Israel activism.

Legal Insurrection has documented in great detail the efforts of Ariel Gold to promote Bassem Tamimi, a prominent member of the Tamimi clan that is notorious for virulent Jew-hatred and ardent support for terrorism. (See also Legal Insurrection’s comprehensive coverage of the Tamimis here).

Just by way of a quick reminder: Two close relatives of Bassem Tamimi are convicted terrorist murderers, and one of them – Bassem Tamimi’s nephew Nizar – has married his cousin Ahlam Tamimi, the convicted mastermind and facilitator of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing that killed 15 people, including 7 children, and left some 130 injured. Ahlam Tamimi has repeatedly told interviewers how proud she is of the massacre she helped perpetrate, and prominent members of the Tamimi clan have repeatedly emphasized in interviews and on social media how much admiration and love their murderous relatives enjoy.

For Ariel Gold’s efforts to promote Bassem Tamimi as a non-violent Palestinian activist in the US, it was obviously a problem when the Tamimis were exposed as vicious Jew-haters and ardent terror-supporters. Gold’s efforts to now promote Issa Amro are hardly surprising in view of the fact that Amro and the Tamimis are good friends (as I will document below).

Since Code Pink seems to have arranged Amro’s meeting with Bernie Sanders – and, apparently in collaboration with the Orwellian-named Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), also Amro’s other meetings with Congress members –  it should be noted that all these groups support the BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel. As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) explains, the BDS movement “rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state [and] is the most prominent effort to undermine Israel’s existence. The BDS campaign is rampant with misinformation and distortion” and pursues goals and strategies that are antisemitic.

In 2013, the ADL listed  both Code Pink and JVP as well as the forerunner of USCPR among the “Top 10 most influential and active anti-Israel groups in the United States,” noting that their work focuses “on delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated.” In the following year, the ADL highlighted Code Pink’s participation in an “Iranian conference devoted to promoting anti-Semitic propaganda;” according to the ADL, the event was “drawing a who’s who of Holocaust deniers and international anti-Semites to Tehran” including “some high-profile American anti-Israel activists such as Medea Benjamin of ‘CODEPINK.’”

Just as Code Pink and most other groups supporting BDS have no problem associating with antisemites who want to rid the world of its only Jewish state, Issa Amro has no problem invoking antisemitic motifs on social media in order to demonize Israel.

In July 2014, he posted a tweet demanding “Stop drinking our children’s blood in Qaza , Israel occupation is killing our peoples lives.” (In this and several other tweets, the links to Facebook posts do not work, either because the posts are not public or have been deleted). A few days earlier, his group Youth Against Settlements (YAS) had posted a cartoon on its Facebook page depicting Israeli prime minister Netanyahu with a gun and crushing a bleeding Palestinian child to death, while a camera man films Netanyahu’s bandaged finger. Some four weeks later, Amro accused Israel of a “genocide operation in Gaza.”

Association with the Tamimis and other terror supporters

Amro and his group YAS shared the just cited social media posts during the conflict that was triggered when Hamas-affiliated terrorists from Hebron – i.e. Amro’s hometown – kidnapped and murdered three teenaged Israeli students.

Yet, I have been unable to find any condemnation from “Palestinian Gandhi” Issa Amro in this or any of the many other instances of Palestinian terrorism, and he never seems to have distanced himself from terrorist groups like Hamas. At the same time, Amro is friends with staunch supporters of terrorism like Bassem and Nariman Tamimi.

Here is just a quick visual reminder of what the Tamimis stand for.

The Tamimis’ outspoken support for terrorism doesn’t seem to disturb Issa Amro: he considers Nariman Tamimi a “friend” and apparently planned to travel with her to a United Nations event in New York last year. But to his disappointment, “HRD [human rights defender] Nariman Tamimi, was prevented by #Israel from traveling to Jordan, she was detained and questioned about her non violence activity.”

Given the fact that Nariman Tamimi has shared countless Facebook posts glorifying terrorists and inciting terror attacks, it’s hard to imagine that anyone really committed to non-violence would endorse her as enthusiastically as “Palestinian Gandhi” Issa Amro has done. Similarly, it seems very improbable that the Tamimis, whose declared goal is the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian Arab-Muslim majority state, would support Amro if they had any reason to think that he favored peaceful coexistence between a Jewish and a Palestinian state.

In addition to his camaraderie with the Tamimis, Amro is on friendly terms with several other individuals known for their antisemitism and their open support for Hamas.

One of them is Miko Peled, who likes to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and counts Hamas insider Azzam Tamimi (who may not be related to the Tamimi clan of Nabi Saleh) among his friends and supporters – in fact, the two recently exchanged niceties on Twitter when Peled announced their joint appearance at an anti-Israel event in London on November 10. Incidentally, Peled is also very close to the Tamimis of Nabi Saleh and considers Bassem Tamimi his “brother.” Peled visited Amro in Hebron in November 2016 and then again in February of this year; and just a few weeks ago, they campaigned together for “Justice in Palestine” in the UK. Needless to say, everyone involved knows that “Justice in Palestine” requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.

Just like Bassem and Nariman Tamimi, Miko Peled is very unlikely to support someone who doesn’t share his intense loathing for Israel and his resolve to see the world’s only Jewish state replaced by a Palestinian Arab-Muslim state.

The same is true for veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah, who runs the website Electronic Intifada. Like Peled, Abunimah has compared Israel to Nazi Germany; he is also an outspoken supporter of Hamas and loathes the Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas almost as much as he hates Israel. And Abunimah clearly believes Amro shares his views: his website has supported Amro repeatedly, and when Amro was recently summoned by Palestinian security forces for questioning, Abunimah immediately rushed to pen two articles furiously denouncing Amro’s subsequent short detention. Amro expressed his appreciation on Twitter: “Thank you @AliAbunimah & @intifada for the amazing article about my arrest. I will continue fighting the occupation.” Abunimah responded by expressing his appreciation for Amro: “Thank you for your steadfastness @IssaAmro. You are an example and an inspiration. The occupier and its allies will never defeat you.”

It is noteworthy that according to Abunimah, Amro was detained because he had written two Facebook posts condemning “the detention by the PA’s Preventive Security force of Ayman al-Qawasmi, the director of the Minbar al-Hurriya radio station in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.” What Abunimah doesn’t tell his readers is that this was apparently not the first time Qawasmi was detained by Palestinian security forces – and interestingly, a dramatic report about a previous arrest notes that “Ayman is the eldest son of martyr Abdullah Qawasmi, a prominent military leader of al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas who was assassinated in June 21, 2003 in al-Khalil [i.e. Hebron].” (Here is an archived copy of the Qassam Brigades’  page on Qawasmi and the terror attacks he organized).

As it happens, two members of Hebron’s Qawasmi clan were also involved in the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teens that ultimately led to the war with Hamas in the summer of 2014.

Rooting for a Third Intifada

A few weeks before the three Israeli teens were abducted and murdered on June 12, 2014, Issa Amro announced on his Facebook page: “It is a real intifada in Hebron today, I think the third intifada is very close to start, we want it to be a smart intifada.” [Archived version of post does not include responses]

When one of his followers asked: “How do you define a smart intifada?,” Amro wrote in response “I have the plan for it ،you will know it.” Asked if it was “a secret plan,” Amro confirmed “Yes it is.”

Did Amro know of the Qawasmis’ plan and their preparation for a terrorist attack? And was he perhaps disappointed that the “third intifada” he anticipated so eagerly in mid-May 2014 didn’t turn out to be all that “smart” for the Palestinians some four weeks later, when Israel responded to the abduction of the three students with a massive crack-down on Hamas cells in the West Bank?

While we can only speculate about the answers to these questions, it is noteworthy that Amro had predicted and even called for another intifada repeatedly before May 2014, but that he apparently gave up on this after the kidnapping didn’t enable Hamas to blackmail Israel. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

In November 2012, Amro also posted on his Facebook page almost fifty photos of riots in Hebron, which he called “Gaza Intifada.”

Incitement and support for terrorism

There are also clear indications that Amro’s group YAS supports terrorism. On January 2, 2016, YAS posted several photos to their Facebook page without any comment. Three of the images show several bodies wrapped in flags; one is almost identical to a photo featured in a report by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an about a “Mass joint funeral held for 14 Palestinians in Hebron.”

According to the Ma’an report, “Thousands of mourners flooded the streets of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron to attend the joint funeral of 14 Palestinians whose bodies were returned by Israel the night before. The bodies were among 23 handed over by Israeli authorities on Friday night, 17 to the Hebron area, in line with a decision made by Israeli officials to withhold the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis.” At the end of the report, there is a list with the names of the 17 terrorists and the attacks they perpetrated.

As visible in the photos and noted in a report in the Times of Israel, some of the bodies “were covered with flags of the Islamist Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.”

One of the bodies covered in an Islamist flag was pointed out by a person attending the funeral in a photo posted by Amro’s group on their Facebook page. It seems fair to conclude that this indicates an association between Amro’s YAS and the killed terrorist.

Already a few months earlier, at the beginning of the so-called “Stabbing Intifada,” Amro’s YAS had signaled their support for the new wave of attacks by Palestinian terrorists armed with knives, but also employing other means like car rammings. On October 31, 2015, YAS posted an image on Facebook with a text claiming that during the past month, “Israeli forces killed one Palestinian every 10 hours, most of them executed on site just for being suspected.” YAS posted the same image with the text in Spanish and Arabic. The map of “Palestine” displayed next to the text included all of Israel.

This text served both to whitewash Palestinian terrorists as innocent victims of Israeli brutality and to incite and justify more terrorism in order to avenge those who were killed.

It is also noteworthy that YAS occasionally engages in the kind of religious incitement that provides one of the major motivations for Palestinian terrorism.

Recent examples of this kind of incitement include a tweet posted by YAS linking to a Palestinian “report” that claims “IOF [i.e. ‘Israel Occupation Forces’] continue systematic crimes in Palestine.” One of the accusations is that “Hundreds of settlers raided al-Aqsa Mosque and performed their prayers in its yards to mark the Jewish Sukkot Holiday.” This clearly echoes the vicious Al-Aqsa libel that has been used by Palestinian leaders for almost a century to incite anti-Jewish violence.

In another recently posted tweet, Amro’s YAS claims that “40,000 Israeli settlers storm into Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.” YAS repeated the same claim a day later: “Over the past two days 40,000 Israeli settlers storm have stormed [sic] into the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.”

Obviously enough, the pictured “settler” is simply a religious Jew accompanied by a few children. Equally obviously, religious Jews don’t have any interest in storming any mosques. But long before there was an “Ibrahimi Mosque,” the site was revered by Jews as the Cave of Machpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs), and it is considered as Judaism’s second holiest site after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Yet, most of the site is controlled by a Muslim body (waqf), while Jewish access to the site is severely restricted.

Amro’s YAS of course knows all this, and it is very revealing that they would still try to ignite the religious passions that so often inspire Palestinian terrorism. The link provided by YAS is also very revealing: it leads to an article on the Islamist website MEMO, which often serves as a mouthpiece for Hamas; and as is to be expected, the article is trying very hard to present the Jews visiting the site to mark the Jewish holiday of Sukkot as desecrating a holy place that rightfully belongs only to Muslims. According to MEMO, “The Director and Head of the Ibrahimi Mosque, Sheikh Hafthi Abu Esnaina, condemned the incursions. He stressed that Israel is encouraging the Judaisation of Palestinian religious sites. ‘The Ibrahimi Mosque will always be a holy site for Muslims only,’ he insisted.”

Conclusion

As this documentation shows, “Palestinian Gandhi” Issa Amro is far from Gandhi. The image he and his supporters present to gullible western liberals and journalists is belied by his social media history and that of Youth Against Settlements.

The next time anti-Israel Code Pink activists bring Issa Amro through the halls of Congress, perhaps someone will show the Representatives and Senators this post.

[Featured Image: Issa Amro Twitter]

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Petra Marquardt-Bigman is a German-Israeli free-lance researcher with a Ph.D. in contemporary history whose work focuses on anti-Semitism and efforts to delegitimize Israel.