"I am an anarchist; I seek to tear down hierarchies in my personal interactions, organizing structures, & society at large. I am a revolutionary; this US-dominated global capitalist system is inherently flawed & I aim to help accelerate its inevitable collapse & create a truly sustainable & egalitarian society. I work for peace in my personal interactions and I oppose all wars waged by governments to ensure their dominance, but I am NOT a pacifist; I find nonviolent tactics powerful and effective, but violence & property destruction have always been an essential part of revolutionary movements & I support everyone's right to self defense." –ISM activist Joseph Smith
The above quote is a self-description posted on the website of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Joseph Smith. (The ISM is a smokescreen for various PLO anti-Israel and pro-Ba'ath Party groups in Iraq and relies on a few non-profits in the US like the Middle East Children's Alliance in California and Brecht Forum in New York to launder and disperse funds to its subgroups.) The Zelig of revolutionary pilgrims, Smith has been a prominent member of the anti-Israel campaign waged by radical agitators.
Smith first came to light in March of 2003 when Olympia, Washington, student and anarchist Rachel Corrie was accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer. Corrie had tried to block it's path as it cleared suspected weapons-smuggling tunnels in Gaza. Smith has always been the main "eyewitness" for the ISM’s charges that Corrie's death was a deliberate murder and that the bulldozer driver, an Israeli soldier nicknamed "Doobie, " actually saw the Evergreen College coed (who was his classmate there) before she was struck.
Smith’s claims are plainly contradicted by the evidence. The Israeli army maintains cameras on tall poles in certain military zones and actually videotaped Rachel Corrie's death. The footage shows that, until the last few seconds before she was struck, Corrie was seated in a trench and out of the bulldozer operator's view.
Facts notwithstanding, Smith has tirelessly labored to upgrade Corrie’s tragic but unintentional end into an inspiring tale of martyrdom for would-be radicals. Of her death, he has said, “The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression."
One who heeded Smith’s call was Tom Hurndall. An ISM anarchist and activist from the UK, Hurndall, like Corrie, was also killed in Gaza. Just 22 years old, Hurndall had left Iraq where he served as a human shield for Saddam Hussein before war broke out in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hurndall also spent the last few minutes of his life with Joseph Smith before he was killed while interfering with an Israeli tank in a combat zone. Smith was photographed with Hurndall just minutes before his death. He helped erect a tent in the path of a tank in a hot military zone.
Tom Hurndall (left) with Joseph Smith minutes before Smith was killed.
Before becoming a spear carrier for the ISM, Smith was a member of the radical environmental organization Earth First! In 2003, a Seattle reporter offered the following description of Smith’s activities:
"And then there was Joe Smith, 21--yet another Evergreen student who, with his thick beard and red-checked kaffiyah, [the red-and-white checked kaffiyah is worn also by the Iraqi resistance] looks like a better-fed, Palestinian-territory version of John Walker Lindh. Joe is from Kansas City, Missouri, and says he (like other Evergreen students) is getting independent study credit for his time in Rafah. He plans to gather the stories of local Palestinians and use them to write a play. ‘I saw ISM as a way that I could directly use my white, Western, American male privilege to directly serve underprivileged people of color,’ he says. Joe arrived in Rafah in January planning to stay only one month. Like a number of other ISM activists, he found he couldn't bring himself to leave. He now plans to stay through the summer. ‘This place is really addictive,’ he says.”
For the unemployed Smith, anti-Israel activism is a fulltime job. Thus he travels internationally and all over the United States for the ISM. He describes himself as an "activist," a "performance artist" and a "poet," and emphasizes that he is gay. He once claimed to be an activist for the Christian Peacemakers Team, an avowedly pacifist Quaker organization that seeks to ameliorate conflicts around the globe. Yet, in the "statement of identity" featured on his website, Smith specifically rejects pacifism and calls for revolution through violence.
Like his supposed commitment to pacifism, Smith’s real identity is also very much in doubt. For instance, he also uses the name Joseph Carr. Smith/Carr just returned from the Palestinian territories on November 7 after spending three moths working for the ISM on a visa he obtained from the Israeli government under his new false identity. In fact, he openly boasts in his own emails that he entered Israel illegally four times at four different entry points to interfere with anti-terrorist operations of the IDF and that he has his own special ways to deceive border police. Internal ISM memos reveal that even though the Israelis banned him as far back as 2003, he has consistently entered the West Bank and Gaza under fraudulently obtained passports from the US government.
Of greater interest, though, is the fact that, under the name of Carr, Joseph Smith visited Iraq and areas of Fallujah, where US forces were fighting Ba'ath Party insurgents and other allies of the PLO. He wrote rhapsodically of the experience on his website:
Meeting a Sunni cleric was the highlight of the trip. He was a young, passionate man and a quite eloquent speaker. He told us about some of the horrors he'd witnessed. During the first invasion, several families near his Mosque took cover in a home. US troops used megaphones to order them all out into the street while carrying a white flag. They complied, but when they all got out, the soldiers opened fire into the group and killed five. He said one boy had run to his mother who'd been shot, and Americans shot the child in the head. He said he saw a US commander cry as this happened, 'but what good were his tears?' he asked, 'He didn't do anything to stop it.'
While meeting with the cleric, a man told us some of his horror stories. 'The Americans shot and killed my 15-year-old daughter' he said, 'was she a terrorist?' He said the US military denied killing her and refused to give him even minimal compensation. The US gave him only half the compensation for his house that they destroyed. 'With all respect to you,' he said, 'I hate Americans, they killed my family. My children cannot play in the street, they shot and killed my sister-in-law while she was washing clothes, and my other brother's hands and feet were blown off.'
Smith/Carr continues his account:
"I felt incredibly safe in Fallujah; the people I spoke with were kind and gentle. They are rightfully angry and indignant at what the US has done to them, but they seemed to understand that it wasn't me or all American's (sic) that did it. The cleric said, 'We are grateful that you come here and share in our suffering and agony, it shows that there are good and human Americans.'"
The Seattle journalist who interviewed Smith/Carr in 2003 also noted the ISM’s connection to Palestinian terrorists.
"The group claims to operate completely independent of the Palestinian Authority and its various internal factions, but it also claims to be ‘Palestinian led.’ The group is dedicated to nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., but it is using that nonviolent direct action in the service of a liberation movement whose favored direct-action tactic in recent years has been suicide bombings. And here is the most glaring contradiction: Virtually all of the foreign activists currently in Rafah characterize themselves as anarchists. They reject notions of hierarchy and even the very idea of a political state."
More precisely, they reject the idea of an American or Israeli political state. That certainly sums up the view of Joseph Smith. (Or is it Joseph Carr?) Certainly it explains his zeal to side with Palestinian killers bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. Leading one to wonder: How many impressionable young ISM activists will die in some foreign battle zone after taking advice from Smith? And what of Smith himself? Will he return to Iraq to aid the resistance that kills American soldiers, or does he intend to stay here, as he says on his website, to "train others" in the cause of violent revolution for which he yearns?
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