The International Solidarity Movement and the
Palestinian Solidarity Movement: Who They
Are And What They Stand For

Updated August 28, 2012
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NOTE: All references/links/articles documenting ISM/PSM activities have been permanently archived by netWMD. Copies available on request. Original hyperlinks to cited references are always provided below for posterity. If you find that a link has gone stale ("broken"), click on the adjacent "see archive" link.


The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM) are related and interconnected organizations that have one goal: the delegitimization of the Jewish state of Israel. PSM is the student arm of the ISM. Both organizations are apologists for terrorism against the people of Israel. A number of members of the ISM and PSM have had contact and dealings with terrorists, and a number of guest speakers for these organizations have direct ties to terrorist organizations. Some have tried to dissociate the ISM and PSM, but netWMD has proved that the two groups are indeed linked together. From here on, when reference is made to both organizations at the same time, ISM/PSM will be used.

What is the ISM and PSM?

The ISM and PSM are political and activist organizations, claiming to work on behalf of the Palestinian people. The organizations' rhetoric cloaks itself in the hallowed memory of the American civil rights movement under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. PSM's New Jersey division website asserts in its mission statement, [a]s a movement, we are committed to standing firmly against racism and all forms of oppression. . . (see archive).In light of its other rhetoric and activities, however, this assertion is questionable.

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In the same mission statement the PSM also asserts [w]e are opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel... and we stand for the total liberation of all of historic Palestine (see archive). That statement does not allude only to the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "Historic Palestine" is a thinly disguised code-term for all of the land on which Israel exists. Ohio's PSM branch website calls for . . . the full decolonization of all Palestinian land. . .,which means all of Israel (see archive). The Ohio website also demands . . . the recognition and implementation of the right of return and repatriation for all Palestinian refugees to their original homes and properties (see archive). The Duke PSM website similarly demands . . .the full decolonization of all Palestinian land. . . and . . .the recognition and implementation of the right of return and repatriation for all Palestinian refugees to their original homes and properties. . . (see archive). Allowing 3.5 million Palestinians into Israel—a tiny sliver of land with 6.5 million residents, occupying 1/6 of 1% of the geographic area of the Middle East, would destroy Israel. What else could "liberation" of "historic Palestine" mean besides the destruction of Israel, which would require a war of annihilation, not the exercise of peaceful activism toward the positive goal of a two-state solution? (See ISM Is Rewriting History below.)

ISM's public statements fondly quote Martin Luther King, but they also quote Malcolm X in support of his idea of struggle by any means necessary (see archive). PSM's New Jersey website states in its own words, [w]e unconditionally support Palestinians' human right to resist occupation and oppression by any means necessary. (see archive) Ohio's PSM site states, [a]s a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation (see archive). Duke PSM also states, As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation. (see archive). The Duke website advocates direct action but does not qualify such action (see archive). New Jersey PSM leader Charlotte Kates stated, I personally support Palestinian resistance in all its forms, from armed struggle to mass protest (see archive).In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict these are ominous words as those means have included terrorist attacks against Israelis. If the ISM truly supported King's vision it would speak out against all terrorist attacks against innocent people as Rev. King certainly would have.

The founders of ISM, Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, have explicitly stated their admiration for terrorist bombers: Hamas claims it has many men ready to be suicide bombers – we advocate that these men offer themselves as martyrs by standing on a settler road and blocking it from traffic. This is no less of a jihad. This is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. (emphasis added) (see archive)

But it is not only through words that ISM betrays what kind of organization it is. Though ISM activism does include non-violent resistance, it has had contact with terrorists. ISM activist, Susan Barcley, refused to allow Israeli soldiers to examine an ISM office in Jenin, the West Bank (see archive). When the soldiers forcibly entered the office, they found Shadi Sukia, a leading member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, whom Ms. Barcley was harboring. Both Barcley and Sukia were arrested. In another incident, ISM activists attempted to prevent Israeli soldiers from blowing up an explosives lab containing an 80 kilo bomb, fertilizers, other bomb-making materials and two rockets (see archive).

Terrorists have sought out the company of the ISM as cover for their murderous activities. Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif (see archive) arrived at the offices of ISM in Rafah, the West Bank, and made contact with its members just days before Omar Khan Sharif detonated himself in a homicide bombing which left three dead and dozens injured in Israel in April, 2003.

Guest speakers for, as well as organizers of, PSM conferences are known to have ties to terrorist organizations. Former professor of University of South Florida, Sami al Arian, was invited to speak at a PSM conference held at the University of Michigan (see archive). Mr. Al Arian was arrested in February, 2003 on charges of being a leader in the American branch of the terrorist group, Islamic Jihad (see archive). Fayyub Sbaihat, who attends the University of Wisconsin, was one of the main organizers of the PSM conference held at The Ohio State University in November, 2003. Sbaihat is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (see archive). Sbaihat has two brothers who are also members of the PFLP in the West Bank. The PFLP was behind the murder of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Rahbaa'm Zevi. The group has also been responsible for terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis.

Other speakers at PSM conferences have included Mahdi Bray of Muslim Public Affairs. In 1998 at a rally held in Washington, Bray led a crowd of 2,000 people who cried out, [L]et's all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews (see archive). Vernonn Bellecourt, a guest speaker at the PSM conference held at The Ohio State University, bemoaned the killing of Hussein's sons as "an assassination" carried out by the U.S. government. "Imagine," he bellowed, "if someone had killed President Bush's daughters in a similar way!" (see archive). Clearly, many of the speakers and participants at these conferences have no sense of moral proportion. It is also clear which side they take in the war against terrorism.

The same hatred exhibited by Bray and Bellecourt was also on display at the PSM's University of Michigan conference. In a signed affidavit, an eyewitness who attended the conference states that a number of participants shouted, "Kill the Jews!," in Arabic (see also). At another PSM conference held at Berkeley in February, 2002, an eyewitness observed that [t]he anti-Jewish rhetoric of the conference inspired the participants to leave the conference and intimidate some identifiable Jews on campus (see archive).

The PSM is not interested in the free exchange of ideas or civil discourse, a sine qua non of academic life and the democratic values that support it. At the University of Toronto in November, 2003, participants at a PSM conference to be held there were required to sign the Basis of Unity, a set of principles to which all attendees had to agree as a pre-condition to attend the conference (see archive). Robert Birgeneau, President of the University of Toronto, issued a statement explaining why the conference had to be cancelled, stating that the Basis of Unity was in violation of the University's Policy on Recognition of Student Groups, which, among other things, confirms that "the essential value of the University must remain that of preservation of freedom of enquiry and association" (see archive).

Consistent with their utter disregard for free inquiry, exchange of ideas, and democratic principles, members of the ISM/PSM have also committed acts of violence and physical destruction on a university campus. In September, 2002, the ISM/PSM held a conference at Concordia University in Montreal, where a riot erupted in opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the university. [A] group of 150 demonstrators entered the Main Building of the downtown campus through a side door that was overlooked in the University's security arrangements for that day (see archive). The resulting riot left vandalism in its wake and required the police to take action. Netanyahu's visit had to be cancelled (see archive).

ISM/PSM is also seeking to have corporations and universities divest from Israel, thereby undermining an ally of the United States. Israel is a democracy whose Muslim population lives more freely than in any part of the Muslim world. There are Arab-Israeli citizens who are members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Israel showed good faith in seeking the nationhood of the Palestinian people at Camp David 2000. Israel is not at all the apartheid state that the ISM/PSM claims it is. The ISM/PSM entirely misrepresents Israel—the only thriving democracy in the Middle East—to justify the divestment campaign in imitation of the one that was righteously fought in South Africa. Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, refused to have that university become the object of divestment activism against Israel (see archive). Yet the PSM has successfully pressed upon Wayne State University (archive) and the University of Wisconsin to divest and pass resolutions condemning Israel (see archive).

Despite its rhetoric about non-violent protest, ISM/PSM is a radical group whose activism at the least indirectly allies itself with terrorists who attack Israel. Whatever its individual members believe, ISM seems to be dangerously aligned with terrorists, in sync with the rhetoric of violent extremism. The claim by ISM/PSM of being the political and moral inheritance of Martin Luther King's model of non-violent resistance is not only ungrounded but a disgrace to the memory of such a great man.

ISM Is Rewriting History

Has ISM/PSM forgotten the Biblical and archeological evidence for the Jews' historic ties to Israel, like the Dead Sea Scrolls or the remnants of King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem? Would ISM/PSM deny that Jesus, a Jew by birth, lived in ancient Israel? The father of the Jews, Abraham, was Ibrahim, the father of the Arabs—one and the same man. Jews have lived in "Palestine" both before and after the brutal Roman-engineered Diaspora. Has ISM forgotten that many Arabs immigrated to Palestine in the early 20thcentury? [1] Has the ISM forgotten that the Israel was created under a United Nations (UN) mandate? Their websites make no mention of the fact that, before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967, those two territories were controlled by Jordan and Egypt, respectively. Neither of these Arab nations granted statehood to the Palestinians. Israel has been singled out for condemnation as the sole originator of a problem that pre-dates the occupation. At the same time, terrorist violence against Jews occurred long before the occupation. How could Israel's occupation of the territories in 1967 have caused all the Arab terrorist attacks against Jews that occurred from 1900 [1]through 1966? And what about more recent history? What does the ISM have to say about Kuwait's expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees after the Gulf war in 1991?

[1] The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2002, World Almanac Education Group, Inc., New York, NY, 2002, p. 808.

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