Why did five US lawmakers meet on May 29 with Shawan Jabarin, a long-time activist for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist organization?
A group of Democratic lawmakers met with a member of a Palestinian terrorist group during a trip funded by an anti-Israel nonprofit last spring, the Weekly Standard reported.
According to government documents, five Congressmen went on an all-expenses-paid trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah: Rep. Luis Gutierrez IL, Rep. Dan Kildee (MI), Rep, Mark Pocan (WI), Rep. Matt Cartwright (PN), and Rep. Hank Johnson (GA).
According to the trip itinerary, the lawmakers met on May 29 with Shawan Jabarin, a long-time activist for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization that has engaged in suicide bombings, assassinations, and plane hijackings.
Jabarin also serves as director of the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq, which advocates for economic boycotts of Israel and exploits courts to delegitimize the country, according to NGO Monitor, a pro-Israel watchdog.
The Israeli Supreme Court has described Jabarin as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, acting some of the time as the CEO of a human rights organization, and at other times as an activist in a terror organization which has not shied away from murder and attempted murder.”
Jabarin was found guilty of recruiting operatives on behalf of the PFLP in 1985 and has since been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan.
The congressmen did not respond to requests by the Standard‘s for comment about the trip.
“At best, this was poor vetting and poor decision making on the part of these members, who may not have fully understood who they were meeting with,” said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told TWS. “At worst, they were knowingly engaging with a virulently anti-Israel figure with disconcerting ties to a known terrorist organization.”
The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue & Democracy (MIFTAH), which provided funding for the trip, also portrays itself as a human rights organization but often engages in rhetoric that is anti-Semitic or supportive of terrorism, an NGO expert told TWS.
“MIFTAH is an organization that is engaged in blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric, that has spoken very romantically and positively about suicide bombings and things of that nature,” said Yona Schiffmiller, director of the North America desk at NGO Monitor.
Schiffmiller advised those looking to engage with such organizations to investigate groups beyond their mission statement.
“If you narrow yourself to … just evaluating the particular mission that the organization claims to work towards, you’re going to miss a lot of these other things,” he said. “You’re going to miss the anti-Semitism, you’re going to miss the promotion of terrorism.”
Two months after the trip, one of the participants, Hank Johnson, compared Israelis living in Judea and Samaria to “termites.”