Democratic House Members Valorize Anti-Israel Activists, Intifada Supporter

Activists say praised pair promote anti-Israel narrative

West Bank violence
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 23 / AP
• November 17, 2015 2:25 pm


A coalition of Democratic House lawmakers are collecting signatures on a new letter that valorizes anti-Israel activists and an intifada supporter, praising them as agents of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, according to an advance draft of that letter viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter, which is currently being circulated on Capitol Hill and is addressed to Israeli and Palestinian leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comes amid a wave of violence committed by Palestinian terrorists that has claimed the lives of at least a dozen Israelis and wounded 172 more.

The letter—which is being spearheaded by Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.), John Yarmuth (Ky.), and Debbie Dingell (Mich.)—calls on the leaders to follow the examples of others in making peace.

The letter praises Robi Damelin, an anti-Israel activist, and Bassam Aramin, a former Palestinian militant and intifada supporter, as well as Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli prime minister.

The emphasis on Damelin and Aramin has drawn criticism from pro-Israel activist groups and victims of Palestinian terrorism. These critics view the pair as biased sources that promote an anti-Israel narrative.

"Prime Minister Rabin’s spirit lives on in Israeli citizens like Robi Damelin, a mother who devoted her life to peace and coexistence after her son was killed by a Palestinian sniper," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "The spirit of peace also lives on in Palestinian citizens like Bassam Aramin, who devoted his life to peace after his daughter was shot by Israeli border police."

"And there is hope for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine because Robi and Bassam continue to work side by side to end violence," the letter states.

Before becoming an activist, Aramin was a militant fighter for the Palestinian Fatah terrorist group and spent seven years in Israeli prison for his actions.

He has been a key member of the organization Combatants for Peace, which vows to "end to the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip."

The group has additionally partnered with notoriously anti-Israel activist organizations and regularly blames Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian lands for violence committed against the Jewish state, according to NGO Monitor, a watchdog organization.

"Combatants for Peace activities reflect a strong affiliation with the Palestinian agenda and narrative, placing most of the blame for the conflict on ‘the occupation,’" according to NGO Monitor.

Damelin has been known to deliver lectures in the United States that promote "views that place sole blame for the continuation of the conflict on Israel," according to the report.

Additionally, Aramin and Damelin are both prominent members of a left-leaning Israeli organization called Parents Circle, which is known to promote "a highly biased view of the conflict based on the Palestinian narrative and draw an immoral equivalence between terror victims and terrorists," according to a NGO Monitor report on the group and its funders.

Victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks have criticized Parents Circle for coopting their tragedies in order to forward a skewed narrative that blames Israel for Palestinian violence.

Arnold Roth, an Israeli activist whose daughter was killed in a terrorist attack and who works with other victims’ families, criticized Parents Circle for its message, one that he characterized as "consistently critical of one side: Israel," while masquerading under the banner of "peace, tolerance, reconciliation."

Parents Circle often directs its activism "at European church goers and Israeli school children … leveraging our tragedies to gain political momentum and funding," Roth said, adding that its other activities involve work with "bigoted extremist groups… [and] groups demanding freedom" for terrorists.

It also was involved in securing the release of the mastermind behind his daughter’s murder.

"Parents Circle are unrepresentative of Israel’s bereaved families, a fact they openly concede," Roth said. "Among Israelis who have suffered Arab terrorism inside their families, they have very little legitimacy."

Pro-Israel activists expressed astonishment at what they described as a misstep on the part of the Democratic lawmakers.

"Either these members [of Congress] were misled about who and what they were celebrating, or they’re intentionally trolling the Prime Minister of Israel by calling on him to follow the example of anti-Israel activists and once-jailed intifada supporters," a senior official from a Washington, D.C., pro-Israel organization told the Free Beacon.

"I don’t think they were intentionally trolling him. So now whoever pushed them to write the letter will have to answer for burning allies on the Hill."

Published under: Israel