A “significant contingent” of the former leadership of “three organizations that were designated or shut down, or held civilly liable for providing material support for the terrorist organization Hamas … appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] campaign,” according to testimony provided to Congress on Tuesday by Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Appearing at a joint hearing before two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees, Schanzer explained that the leaders had “gravitated to a new organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP),” which is a “leading driver of the BDS campaign.” AMP is “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign in campuses in the United States,” Schanzer added. “AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and grants to SJP activists. AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country. According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone.”
Schanzer noted that “at least seven individuals who work for or on behalf of AMP have worked for or on behalf of organizations previously shut down or held civilly liable in the United States for providing financial support to Hamas: the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and KindHearts.” HLF was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2001 for alleged terror ties: from 1995-2001, it sent “approximately $12.4 million outside of the United States with the intent to contribute funds, goods, and services to Hamas.” According to the Treasury Department, Khaled Meshal, a top Hamas official, identified one of HLF’s officers, Mohammed El-Mezain, as “the Hamas leader for the U.S.”
Schanzer further observed in his testimony that IAP was “found civilly liable in a federal district court for supporting Hamas” in 2004 and that there is “significant overlap between employees from this Hamas-supporting organization” and new BDS funding networks. The Treasury Department had also frozen KindHeart’s assets in 2006, calling the organization the “progeny” of the HLF and saying it provided “support for terrorism behind the façade of charitable giving.” Its president was formerly an official of the Group Relief Foundation, which was designated a specially designated global terrorist group in 2002 for funding al-Qaeda. AMP itself has displayed a poster at its headquarters that reads in Arabic: “No Jew will live among them in Jerusalem.”
Schanzer appeared at the hearing alongside Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; David Makovsky, Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, the director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The experts discussed a variety of threats to Israel in addition to the BDS campaign, including Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian incitement, and efforts at the United Nations to impose parameters for a two-state solution.