The ISM’s Dishonest Response to Intercept Report About FBI Investigation Into Their Activities
Terror-supporters the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) have released this statement in light of the recent Intercept report on a surveillance investigation into their activities, which was conducted by the FBI:
Recently, the Intercept published a report of a surveillance investigation conducted by the FBI on the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The highly invasive investigation targeted ISM activists, their associates, and other organizations ISM worked with, from 2004 – 2006, using informants as well as physical and telecommunications surveillance.
We, at the International Solidarity Movement, denounce this shameless abuse of power and misuse of public funds in an attempt to criminalize Palestinian solidarity and anti-occupation activism, as well as the current ongoing campaign in some American states to criminalize the BDS movement. ISM activists have been secretly spied on and targeted by various intelligence services, including British, Israeli, and U.S., for over 19 years, merely for standing up for the rights of Palestinians.
We call on those who believe that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity to take action and raise awareness about local, state, and national attempts to criminalize nonviolent resistance such as BDS and Palestinian advocacy, and boycott those profiting off the Occupation of Palestine.
According to the Intercept report, an FBI investigation was launched after an American volunteer with ISM was shot and wounded by Israeli forces at a protest in Occupied Palestine. Instead of investigating the foreign army that injured an American citizen exercising his First Amendment-protected right to peaceful protest, the FBI’s response was to probe the survivor. While the 2 primary investigations were launched by the Los Angeles and St. Louis FBI Field Offices, agents from at least 11 cities were involved in spying on various ISM activists and related organizations. Using far right and extremist news sources, the investigation attempted to link ISM to international terrorism.
After two years of investigation, multiple rights and privacy violations, hundreds of pages of reports and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted, the investigation only proved what we have always maintained: ISM is a non-violent movement committed to ending the Occupation of Palestine through non-violent means.
Notably, the investigation began in March 2004, shortly after the murder of American Rachel Corrie and Briton Tom Hurndall (2003) by the Israeli army. The probe coincided with an Israeli government campaign to de-legitimize ISM and discredit Palestinian rights activists. It also reflects the increase in recent years of FBI investigations into non-violent activist organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antiwar.com. Today, lobby groups, politicians, and leaders in the United States continue to violate First Amendment-protected rights to free speech through criminalizing non-violent Palestinian activism, such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“The fact that ISM was under this kind of extensive investigation is ridiculous and a complete waste of taxpayer money. ISM has always been open and transparent about who we are, what we do, and what we stand for, which is purportedly what this country stands for — freedom and human rights.” — ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf
“In Dr. King’s time, surveillance was justified in terms of alleged Communist influence; in recent years, surveillance has been justified by alleged association with terrorists. In both cases, U.S. citizens were employing nonviolent action to confront injustice and oppression.” — ISM activist spied on by the FBI, Mark Chmiel
As I demonstrated in my previous post, there is plenty to link the ISM with terrorism.
But I want to also now address Arraf’s claim that the “ISM has always been open and transparent about who we are, what we do, and what we stand for, which is purportedly what this country stands for — freedom and human rights.”
For a start, as I have detailed on here in the past, part of the ISM’s strategy is NOT to be open and transparent. Back in 2003, I exposed how their training pack (since taken offline for obvious reasons) encouraged ‘activists’ to be dishonest.
All non-Israeli citizen must fill-in a visa formula upon arrival. Usually it ís of little 13 trouble getting through the security check at the airport: A few basic questions at the booth and a few questions by the ASS ten meters past the booth. Besides the line at the booth everything normally take less than five minutes. However ,the Airport Security Service may choose to go into a brief interrogation asking you questions like: who invited you and do you have an invitation? Where will you stay? Why did you choose to come now? Unless you actually are invited by a partner organization) ISM doesn’t count (or have a home organization to refer to, just say that you’re a tourist to visit the Holy Land. Do not enter any political discussion or make any statements. It ís not worth it.
Whereas it used to be unlikely that the ASS could try to refuse you entry, April 2002 saw that change. Due to international interference in Israeli military operations during the military invasions and sieges of Palestinian cities in March and April of 2002, Israeli authorities began denying entry to anyone suspected of being a Palestinian sympathizer. This resulted not only in peace groups being turned away, but interfaith delegations, medical and humanitarian workers and international organization representatives. Those who followed our advice, however, did not get turned away.
– Do NOT come in large groups
– Do NOT indicate that you are coming to join the ISM
– Do NOT indicate that you are planning to be in the West Bank and Gaza.
– Do NOT carry anything on you that could label you a Palestinian sympathizer, in case you are singled out for search.
– DO have a good story prepared about why you are coming to ISRAEL
– DO have contact information and material to support your story
Before entering the airport you should decide by yourself what level of discussion you are prepared to enter. Boldly speaking: do you feel the need to make statements if the going gets tough – or do you feel just to play the game and go easy. Or something in between.
By playing the game,you are just a tourist, who stayed at a hotel, who didn’t meet with Palestinians, who didn’t participate in anything etc. Doing this, your chances of getting through the security check smoothly are higher but never guaranteed.
By making statements,you do not hide that you, for example, stayed with Palestinian friends — but you refuse to give their names. (Please note! The Airport Security Service personnel have NO right, whatsoever, to get personal information about people living under the Palestinian Authority.) Or you don’t hide that you’ve met with various anti-occupation organizations .The tougher you get the tougher they get.
Do NOT carry any private information about Palestinians you’ve met or know. Business cards and names of people at upper level positions at organizations are OK, but never any private address or phone number. The ASS have no right, whatsoever, to get personal information about people living under the Palestinian Authority. Got new friends? Write yourself an e-mail before you leave back home with names and contact information and dispose your notes. And don’t forget to clean sweep your laptop or PDA.
Do NOT carry any sensitive paper. At least not when leaving. If you carry any paper or document you consider sensitive, one way or the other, then send them by fax or mail.
There are three ways to come to Palestine — via the Ben Gurion airport – Tel Aviv, via Amman, Jordan or via Egypt. Many people are afraid to come via Tel Aviv because Palestinian sympathizers are being denied entry into the country. We believe that it’s less suspicious if you come through Israel but you have to have a really good story about why you are coming, and must not mention anything about ISM or knowing, liking or planning to visit Palestinians. You must play it as though your visit is for other, Israel-based reasons, like tourism, religion, visiting an Israeli friend, etc. So do a little bit of research and put together a story that you’ll be able to answer questions about. For example, if you say you are visiting a friend in Jerusalem, you should have the name and phone number of a real Israeli person. If you are coming for religious purposes, have a book or two on religion and travel in Israel; have an itinerary, etc.
Despite the fact that the ISM is not an illegal organization in Israel, the Israeli border control authorities automatically deport anyone they suspect of having pro-Palestinian sympathies. Under both Israeli and International law, we should have the right, as international observers, to visit both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. If Israel was not preventing access, there would be no need for these deceptions which we do find distasteful. You may wonder if Israel has nothing to hide, why it is so keen to keep us out?
2) I’m a queer activist thinking of joining the ISM. What are some issues I should be aware of?
Palestinian society is as diverse in attitudes about gender and sexuality as is U.S. society. Internationals may find themselves in communities with fairly traditional norms and attitudes. In those cases, many of us have chosen not to speak about our sexuality with our Palestinian hosts, even though we felt it was important to come out to our international comrades.
Security forces arrested a British national, apparently a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, who entered Israel in August with a changed name to avoid detection by Israeli border control, it was revealed Monday.
As for Arraf’s contention that they stand for “freedom and human rights”, their collaborating with, and shielding of, terrorists says it all.