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Those Phony “Peace Advocates” By: Ronald Radosh
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, April 05, 2002


IT SEEMS THAT THE PRESS CAN’T GET ANYTHING RIGHT. In Minneapolis, The Star-Tribune refuses to call the Palestinian suicide bombers “terrorists,” because of what its ombudsman calls “the emotional and heated nature of that dispute.” Evidently, calling them what they are might offend those readers who supposedly view them as freedom fighters. More egregious are the stories in the past few days about those who have been described as “peace advocates,” the term being used to refer to the European and American “internationalists,” as they call themselves, who showed up in Yasser Arafat’s compound with food, medicine and expressions of support for his campaign against Israel. The April 3 New York Times, in two different stories, calls them “peace advocates” who are part of an “ad hoc” group that wants to protect Arafat “from the Israelis.” In another story in the same day’s paper, readers learn about the plight facing the parents of one Adam Shapiro, a Jewish member of this would-be “peace” group, who find they are facing daily threats in New York from furious supporters of Israel. In this article, the paper refers to Shapiro not as a peace activist, but this time as simply a “humanitarian worker.” Adam Shapiro himself told the Times that he only worked for the well-being of Palestinian civilians, and that fact was “getting lost because I got trapped in the presidential compound.” It was circumstance that led him to share a breakfast with Arafat, and not any sympathy with the PLO chief’s views.

Evidently, The New York Times did not see the exclusive interview by Matt Lauer with Shapiro on “The Today Show.” (Available at www.msnbc.com) Shapiro described himself not in the neutral terms employed in the press story, but candidly as a “volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement,” a group of international activists who are struggling “against the [Israeli] occupation” and who are “trying to protect the Palestinian people.” In his breakfast talk with the Chairman, Shapiro said that Arafat “thanked us for our solidarity” and for showing the world “what is really happening here” and praised Arafat for his ongoing “struggle for freedom for the Palestinian people.” Shapiro ended his television interview by calling Arafat’s cause one of “freedom, dignity” and human rights, and by calling upon all Americans “to stand up with us to protect the Palestinian people and to demand an end to the occupation.”

Adam Shapiro and his group, the so-called International Solidarity Movement, is clearly not a human rights or peace group. The press is so used to describing international left-wing activist organizations as peace groups that once again it has fallen into the trap set by these left-wing fanatics. One can easily find out what they are about by going to the group’s own website, www.palsolidarity.org. Here they are completely honest about their goal-that of a mouthpiece for the PLO-Hamas-Hezbollah and company’s war against Israel. Their statement of purpose is a repetition of the worst anti-Israeli and pro- Palestinian propaganda, referring to the “Palestinian struggle for freedom,” demanding an “end to Israeli occupation” and referring to the methods undertaken by Israel against the constant wave of suicide bombings as steps taken by the “illegal Israeli occupation forces.” The actions of Arafat’s legions of terrorists are called simply actions meant to “resist” the occupation, and like the PLO propagandists, they demand “the right to return of Palestinian refugees and a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.”

So biased is the ISM’s statement of purpose that it makes not even the slightest attempt to appear to be balanced. Israelis simply have no “respect for Palestinian human rights and human life,” it argues, and it calls for an international presence to support the “resistance.” In particular, they sponsor what they call “non-violent” actions to reinforce the Palestinian resistance, which of course, is not expected to be non-violent. They mention how last December, they worked in “key towns and villages” which Israel now finds itself moving into in order to root out terrorist cells, which they refer to instead as areas “recently hard-hit by the Israeli Occupation Army.” Nowhere do their members even seek to address the issue of suicide bombing, as well as Arafat’s decision to balk at accepting the most generous terms that would have been given his people if the concessions agreed to by Barak at the Oslo Peace Conference would have been accepted. These concessions, after all, offered the Palestinians almost all of the territories Israel occupied in 1967. As Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote on March 31, “the world must understand that the Palestinians have not chosen suicide bombing out of ‘desperation’ stemming from the Israeli occupation;” indeed, Yasser Arafat “walked away” from the very plan that would have ended the occupation they claim puts them in such a desperate condition. And those whom the internationalists support have in fact avoided anything slightly resembling the type of Ghandian non-violence the ISM purports to favor. Yet, somehow, any criticism of the Palestinian chosen method of “resistance” is not to be found anywhere on their website.

It is clear, but somehow not to these internationalists, that Yasser Arafat’s goal is not an end to occupation and a separate state living at peace with Israel, but rather, the total defeat and surrender of Israel itself. And the only way to deal with that threat is overwhelming military force that proves terror does not pay. By using themselves as part of Arafat’s propaganda apparatus, the would-be internationalist “peace advocates” prolong the war they claim to oppose, and give continued strength and sustenance to Arafat’s program of unmitigated terror.

Indeed, evidence accumulates that the group is composed of the same anti-globalists who sought to disrupt the IMF, the World Bank and other such agencies in Seattle and Washington, DC. A statement on the ISM site by Ed Mast, one of the demonstrators arrested in Jerusalem, tells us that “the Israeli police and military” were “acting no worse than police in Seattle,” responding to “peaceful demonstration with preposterous violence.” Evidently, Mr. Mast seems to think that standing in the way of troops acting to root out terrorist cells in a war zone can be dealt with the same way as a non-violent demonstration in a Western world city. Of course, Mr. Mast does not even acknowledge that the anti-globalist demonstrations in Seattle were also hardly “peaceful.”

The ridiculous nature of the ISM protesters is most clearly revealed in a photo appearing on their website of one of the protesters-who is holding a sign reading “Ethnic Cleansing in Progress.” These internationalists, in other words, are actually accusing the Israeli response to terrorism as being the equivalent of Slobodan Milosevic’s actions in Bosnia! Such a comparison, we might say, is just a slight bit of a stretch. Indeed, what it really shows is the sheer self-delusion of these Western supporters of terrorism, who seek to gain support posing as humanitarian workers and peace advocates. That some of our own newspaper reporters and television commentators are lending themselves to their goal is reason for great concern.


Ronald Radosh, Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.


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