This is a guest post by Sam Westrop
The Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) was founded in 2004. CADFA claims to “promote awareness about the human rights situation in Abu Dis” (a village in the West Bank) through “friendship links and twinning”. In reality, CADFA is a highly-politicised organisation that uses human rights as a facade to shield its apologism for terror and vicious anti-Israel sentiment.
For many years now, far-Left groups have adopted humanitarian fronts in order to legitimise their hard-line anti-Israel sentiment. Those who follow the machinations of the anti-Israel networks have watched as groups hijack interfaith dialogue, anti-war, anti-fascism, among others. The ‘twinning’ of education establishments is yet another victim of such exploitation – in particular, schools and universities.
In lobbying for twinning initiatives, anti-Israel groups claim an interest in the mutual exchange of ideas, and express solidarity with those trying to claim an education in areas of conflict. But twinning schools and universities with their counterparts in the Palestinian territories has allowed extremist groups to legitimise their anti-Israel rhetoric, and gives them the chance to indoctrinate the students of twinned establishments with visceral anti-Israel propaganda.
CADFA is a charity, and runs a number of exchange programmes between schools in London and Abu Dis. It also runs ‘urgent action’ campaigns, and releases regular ‘updates’ about the ‘human rights situation’ in Abu Dis.
In 2009, Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Jewish Board of Deputies, wrote to Hampstead School to express his concern at a CADFA-organised event. One anti-Israel activist, brought over by CADFA, had repeatedly warned children of the “Jewish soldiers” who he claimed were persecuting him. Benjamin described CADFA’s activism as a “one-sided, partisan political campaign”
London Mayor Boris Johnson also condemned the incident, noting: “I don’t think it is right that London schoolchildren should face any kind of prejudice or any kind of upset in their life as a result of the attempt to import into London schools the politics and the political disputes of the Middle East.”
In the photo above, taken at a CADFA meeting, the text in the slideshow claims that Palestine exists in lieu of the extant Israeli State. In effect, CADFA seeks to negate the existence of Israeli entirely – a highly-politicised narrative commonly put forward by uncompromising anti-Israel groups.
Additionally, CADFA has lobbied against the EU-Israel Association agreement, which was designed to ensure mutually beneficial trade and investment relations together with economic, social, financial, civil scientific, technological and cultural cooperation. In a plea for action found on their website, CADFA calls for this agreement to be stopped. Such a demand does not further CADFA’s charitable aims; rather, it demonstrates a dogmatic, political opposition to Israel.
The chairman of CADFA is Munir Nusseibeh, who describes himself as a human rights lawyer. He recently spoke for the Southampton branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an extreme anti-Israel group described by the BBC as “radical” and supportive of terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah. Hamas is a proscribed terror group responsible for the murder of thousands. In 2006, it assumed complete control over Gaza, and eliminated all political opposition. Many members of the rival Palestinian group Fatah were thrown off the rooftops of tall buildings.
Earlier this year, Nusseibeh spoke on Press TV, a television news channel and mouthpiece for the Iranian regime, about his and CADFA’s support for Khader Adnan – a jailed terrorist leader from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The PIJ is a banned terrorist organisation under UK law, whose car and suicide bombings have murdered hundreds of Israeli Jews and Arabs. One of many attacks took place in 2003, when Islamic Jihad blew up the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, frequented by both Arabs and Jews and regarded as an encouraging example of peaceful co-existence. 21 people were killed in the attack and 51 were injured. Among the victims were two families and four children, on of which was a two-month-old baby. PIJ also recruits children for terrorist attacks, and in 2005, a thirteen year old was sent to blow himself up and kill others.
CADFA supports Khader Adnan despite his demonstrable connections to terrorist organisations. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s own website describes Adnan as a “leader” of the organisation (also here). Reuters refers to Adnan as a “senior figure in the Islamic Jihad” in 2010 and AP, in 2005, as “a top Islamic Jihad leader”. The Gulf Daily News has him down as “West Bank spokesman of the militant Islamic Jihad group”.
CADFA’s Nusseibeh has implied the charges against Khader Adnan’s connections with this terrorist organisation is simply a dislike of Adnan’s “political opinion”
Similarly, CADFA has voiced support for Hana Shalabi, whom they describe as a “political prisoner”. Shalabi is also a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Ruth Tenne is another leading member of CADFA. Tenne has voiced support for Gill Kaffash, who has even been condemned for her anti-Semitism by Tony Greenstein, a leading PSC activist. Kaffash, a “supporter of Holocaust denier Paul Eisen”, put forward a motion at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) AGM that sought to redefine anti-Semitism so it would not implicate those PSC members who engage in Holocaust denial. This motion was seconded by CADFA member Ruth Tenne.
Sadly, anti-Semitic sentiment and freedom campaigns for ‘political prisoners’ convicted of terrorism is all too common a problem, and a sizeable number of UK charities and ‘humanitarian’ groups are gripped by this sickness – some having been hijacked, others created for that express purpose.
On its website and in one of its ‘updates’, CADFA voices its support for the Abu Jihad Museum in Abu Dis. The Abu Jihad Museum memorialises imprisoned terror operatives, whom the museum lauds as ‘martyrs’. It was founded in support of Khalil Al-Wazir, a PLO terrorist who planned the infamous Coastal Road Massacre, a terror attack that took the lives of 37 people, including 13 children. CADFA’s support for this museum certainly conflicts with its claim to be a humanitarian organisation, and betrays the darker, politicised nature of the group.
But CADFA goes even further. It doesn’t just engage in denial over who is a terrorist or what constitutes terrorism; it appears to support murderous acts.
CADFA openly describes suicide bombers as ‘martyrs’ who were ‘killed’ by Zionists. Their website lists a number of persons responsible for death and destruction, and perversely describes their fate as ‘killed’. Two of them, Osama Mohammad Bahar and Nabeel Mohammad Halabiyeh conducted a suicide bombing in which 11 people were killed and 155 were wounded. CADFA makes no mention of their atrocities and instead pays homage to their sacrifice. Given the context, or lack thereof, it is not unreasonable at all to infer that CADFA supports these murderous attacks.
Despite the patently extreme political position of CADFA, its projects enjoy both UK and EU support. This support is channelled through a programme called Youth in Action, an EU initiative started in 2007, that as of 2010, has benefited from the vast figure of 548 million euros of European taxpayers’ money.
In the UK, Youth in Action is managed by the British Council. CADFA proudly reports that its various twinning initiatives with Abu Dis schools are organised in collaboration with Camden local authority and funded by the British Council. Such twinning projects, which are used to legitimise CADFA’s ideological hostility towards Israel, have previously been the subject of complaints by concerned Hackney residents and elected officials.
CADFA has used EU Youth in Action money to directly fund a series of propaganda films. According to CADFA’s report:
“During summer 2010, we had our very successful fifth youth visit from Palestine. Eight young people from Camden were given time off their school timetables to join eight young people from Abu Dis in a project making film about human rights and anti-discrimination. This took them on visits across London and to schools and youth clubs in Camden. Together, they made a series of small films and the final product, a DVD called “Don‟t Divide Us‟ was distributed to schools and youth clubs in Camden and Abu Dis”
The films and presentations organised by CADFA, subsidised by taxpayers’ money and shown to children in London schools claim that Israelis deliberately run over children, kidnap Palestinians and torture them at local police stations, roll burning tyres into Palestinian weddings, inter alia. Most of these allegations are demonstrably untrue, while the genuine and deplorable examples of violence by criminal individuals are mostly referred to as the collective crimes of “Zionists”.
CADFA is a charity that has reaped the benefit of public trust and taxpayers’ money. It also paints suicide bombers as victims, campaigns for violent fanatics, and works to deepen the divide between Israelis and Palestinians, by propagating lies and hatred through the indoctrination of children. It must be stopped.