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Sunday, September 14, 2003

Enemy with a Human Face
by Alyssa Lappen

"Peace Activism" that sides with jihad?
As a young woman in 1968, I worked briefly with Christian leaders to fight mass starvation inflicted on Biafra’s Ibo people. Joan Baez and Bob Dylan also raised money for the afflicted Biafrans. In this, my family and I followed the late Father Aloisius Dempsey, a Jesuit priest who had spent his life tending to sick and impoverished disaster victims worldwide, may he rest in peace. Never did Father Alo or his peers call on peace activists to engage in “resistance.” Peace activism then consisted of marching and raising funds to feed the starving.

Not that Biafra lacked cause. Nigeria’s so-called “civil war” actually constituted a Muslim jihad genocide that felled one million victims. Biafran Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu explained in his June 1969 Ahiara Declaration, the Ibo were threatened with “total destruction,” and their secession resisted “the Arab-Muslim expansionism which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries.” Nigerian troops in 1966 slaughtered 50,000 “like cattle.” In one village, in 1968 they murdered the entire adult male population. Nigerian Lieut. Col. Murtala Mohammed declared in September 1967, “My destination is Onitsha, brothers and sisters. Let nobody stand on my way, for anything that stands on my way would be crushed.” Indeed, the Ibo people were crushed. As Karl Maier expertly describes in This House Has Fallen (2000), Nigeria’s Islamization continues today and the Ibos have become its second class citizens.

Now “peace activism” ironically sides with jihad, at least as embodied by the International Solidarity Movement, which claims a Palestinian Arab “right to resist …via legitimate armed struggle,” including murder by suicide. ISM is just ending its six week “Freedom Summer Palestine Campaign.” Ostensibly to “challenge Israel’s brutal occupation policies,” this sought to halt construction of Israel’s security fence, which ISM derisively labels an “apartheid wall.” To Israel, the fence represents a life-saver to keep suicide killers out. ISM wants them to get in. A fence can be removed; lives cannot be replaced.

For such “campaigns of nonviolent direct-action,” ISM relies on “international civilians.” But ISM volunteers look and sound nothing like the peace activists I recall. ISM’s flashy website mimics propagandistic Arab Muslim war-on-Israel lingo. Embedded in its catch phrases lie the same false assertions and demands as those of the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Aksa Martyrs, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISM’s apparent big brothers: “Palestinian struggle for freedom,” “end to Israeli occupation,” “illegal Israeli actions,” “resist,” and “the right to return of Palestinian refugees and a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.” Indeed, the similarities may well be intentional.

Transported to combat zones that lack manpower, ISM recruits assume quasi military roles. In March and April 2002, a devastating wave of suicide bombings induced an Israeli West Bank incursion to stem the tide. There, fretted ISMer Jessica McCallen, Israel met only Arab “gunmen [on] the streets, trying to ward of [sic] the fourth biggest army in the world with rifles and homemade explosives. Resisting with Palestinians was out of the question. There were no Palestinians on to resist with. [ISM] delegates rapidly …transformed into journalists, humanitarian aid workers and siege breakers.”

Nominally, at least, ISM was co-founded in December 2000 by former Brooklyn radical Adam Shapiro, his Arab Palestinian-American wife Huwaida Arraf; [1] and Ghassan Andoni and George Rishmawi, the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement’s respective executive director and coordinator. Andoni, a Bir Zeit University physics instructor, also heads Beit Sahur-based Alternative Tourism, which made arrangements for two British perpetrators of an April 30 suicide bombing, the 89th in the Oslo War’s 33 months. Arafat’s Al Aksa Martyr’s Brigades and Hamas jointly claimed responsibility for the blast that killed two musicians and a waitress and gravely wounded 16 at Tel Aviv’s packed Mike’s Place music bar. [2]
True peace activists would sympathize with such Israeli victims. Not ISM.
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