Roots of BDS

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign seeks to delegitimize and destroy Israel. It has made its presence felt on many college campuses. Whence BDS? Bret Stephens and Caroline Glick devote invaluable columns to the question this week.

Both columns are based on the eye-opening testimony presented by former Treasury official Jonathan Schanzer, now with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism at a hearing on threats to Israel held on April 19. Schanzer’s testimony traces the roots of BDS to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and KindHearts for Charitable Development — three organizations implicated in financing Hamas between 2001 and 2011.

Schanzer points out that while members of the three organizations’ leadership were jailed, deported, or otherwise brought to justice, many high-level and mid-level figures remained in the United States. Schanzer demonstrates that many of them have gravitated to a new organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). In his testimony Schanzer documents the involvement of seven former “key employees” of now-defunct Hamas-linked organizations who are now associated with AMP.

Schanzer testified that AMP is a Chicago-based organization and leading driver of the BDS campaign. According to Schanzer, AMP is arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States. AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called “Apartheid Wall,” and grants to SJP activists. AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country. According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone. The subcommittee has posted Schanzer’s heavily footnoted written testimony here.

A Berkeley lecturer with the improbably Dickensian name of Hatem Bazian figures prominently in the BDS movement and in SJP. Bazian condemns Schanzer’s testimony here for McCarthyism and (surprise!) Islamophobia. Winfield Myers comments: “As usual, Bazian offers fact-free, cliche-ridden bluster in lieu of rigorous rebuttal. It’s all he’s got.” The video below begins with Schanzer’s brief statement to the subcommittee.

Quotable quote: “I should also note that AMP at their 2014 annual conference held a panel inviting guests to ‘come navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.’ It’s also noteworthy that a recent photograph from AMP’s suburban Chicago headquarters features a poster with the phrase ‘No Jew will live among them in Jerusalem.’ This sounds a lot like promoting Hamas’s agenda here in the United States if you ask me.”