JERUSALEM – Accusing the Jewish state of “genocide,” an anti-Israel Palestinian activist once commended by President Obama has predicted the end of Israel, which, he boasted, is “within reach, in our lifetimes.”
In a piece earlier this month titled, “Why Israel won’t survive,” Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian online publication, accused Israel of war crimes and gloated, “Now, the other pillar of Israeli power – Western support and complicity – is starting to crack. We must do all we can to push it over.”
“It is Israel as a Zionist state, not Palestine or the Palestinian people, that cannot survive this attempted genocide. Its problem is legitimacy, or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it,” wrote Abunimah.
Abunimah previously was described as close to Obama and has introduced the politician at pro-Palestinian events. Referring to a time period in the late 1990s, Abunimah said that “Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation.”
Abunimah was quoted stating Obama was “quite frank that the U.S. needed to be more evenhanded, that it leaned too much toward Israel.”
He noted Obama’s unusual stance toward Israel, commenting “these were the kind of statements I’d never heard from a U.S. politician who seemed like he was going somewhere, rather than at the end of his career.”
In his piece this month, Abunimah blasted Israel’s three-week campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, accusing the Israel Defense Forces of “massacr[ing] civilians in the hope that the population would turn against those fighting the occupier.”
“The death toll keeps rising as more bodies are pulled from carpet-bombed neighborhoods,” Abunimah claimed.
Israel did not carpet-bomb any area in the Gaza Strip. It carried out surgical precision strikes against specific Hamas targets. The IDF regularly warned civilians of incoming attacks with phone calls or text messages. The IDF routinely employed what it terms “roof knocking” – just prior to a targeted bombing, the building in question would receive a telephone call in Arabic warning that the structure was going to be bombed.
Hamas, on the other hand, was widely condemned for utilizing civilians as human shields and storing weapons and military infrastructure in civilian zones, including apartment buildings.
But Abunimah asserted: “Israel simply cannot bomb its way to legitimacy. What choice will Israel make? In the absence of any political and moral legitimacy the only arguments it has left are bullets and bombs. Left to its own devices Israel will certainly keep trying – as it has for sixty years – to massacre Palestinians into submission.”
He claimed “Israel’s real goals (in Gaza) were to restore its ‘deterrence’ fatally damaged after its 2006 defeat in Lebanon (translation: its ability to massacre and terrorize entire populations into submission) and to destroy any Palestinian resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
Zionism, he asserted, is an ideology of “racial supremacy, extremism and hate, is a dying project, in retreat and failing to find new recruits. … It is within reach, in our lifetimes.”
Obama, anti-Israel activist raised funds for Islamic causes
In the 1990s, Obama was a speaker at events in Chicago’s large Palestinian immigrant community to raise funds for U.N. camps for the so-called Palestinian refugees. Abunimah recalls introducing Obama at one such event, a 1999 fundraiser for the Deheisha Palestinian camp in the West Bank.
“I knew Barack Obama for many years as my state senator – when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time,” stated Abuminah during an interview last year with Democracy Now!, a nationally syndicated radio and television political program.
“I remember personally introducing [Obama] onstage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And that’s just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation,” Abunimah said.
Abunimah previously described meeting with Obama at a fundraiser at the home of Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, reportedly a former PLO activist.
“[Obama] came with his wife. That’s where I had a chance to really talk to him,” Abunimah recalled. “It was an intimate setting. He convinced me he was very aware of the issues [and] critical of U.S. bias toward Israel and lack of sensitivity to Arabs. … He was very supportive of U.S. pressure on Israel.
According to quotes obtained by Gulf News, Abunimah recalled a 2004 meeting in a Chicago neighborhood while Obama was running for his Senate seat. Abunimah quoted Obama telling him “warmly” he was sorry that “I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race.”
“I’m hoping when things calm down, I can be more up front,” Abunimah reportedly quoted the senator as saying.
Abunimah said Obama urged him to “keep up the good work” at the Chicago Tribune, where Abunimah contributed guest columns that were highly critical of Israel.
Abunimah serves on the board of the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN, a controversial Arab group founded by Khalidi’s wife that mourns the establishment of Israel as a “catastrophe” and supports intense immigration reform, including providing driver’s licenses and education to illegal aliens.
WND broke the story the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based nonprofit on which Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist, provided $75,000 in grants to the AAAN.
‘Very active terror apparatus’
Obama’s 1999 fundraising for the Palestinian Deheisha camp raised the eyebrows of one senior Israeli security official who was contacted for comment on the issue. The official, who was not aware of Obama’s fundraising, noted Deheisha, which is located near the city of Bethlehem, had a “very active” Palestinian terror apparatus in 1999, carrying out scores of deadly shootings against Israeli civilians that year.
Two of the most deadly suicide bombings in 2002 also were planned from Deheisha, where the suicide bombers originated, said the security official. In one such bombing, in March of that year, 11 people were killed and over 50 injured, four critically when a Deheisha bomber detonated his explosives next to a group of Jewish women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to leave a nearby synagogue.
The question of so-called Palestinian refugees is a sensitive one for supporters of Israel. All Israeli prime ministers have stated a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot include the “return” of “refugees.”
When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, some 725,000 Arabs living within Israel’s borders fled or were flushed out when the Jewish state pushed back attacking Arab armies. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution.
While most Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel and other countries, the majority of Palestinian Arabs have been maintained in 59 U.N.-run camps that do not seek to settle the Arabs elsewhere.
There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the U.N., including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs; Arabs living full-time in Jordan; and Arabs who long ago emigrated throughout the Middle East and to the West.
Other cases of worldwide refugees aided by the U.N. are handled through the international body’s High Commission for Refugees, which seeks to settle the refugees quickly, usually in countries other than those from which they fled.
The U.N. created a special agency – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA – specifically to handle registered Palestinian refugees. It’s the only refugee case handled by the U.N. in which the declared refugees are housed and maintained in camps for generations instead of facilitating the refugees’ resettlement elsewhere.
The U.N. officially restricts the definition of refugee status worldwide for nationalities outside the Palestinian arena to those who fled a country of nationality or habitual residence due to persecution, who are unable to return to their place of residence and who have not yet been resettled. Future generations of original refugees are not included in the U.N.’s definition of refugees.
But the U.N. uses a different set of criteria only when defining a Palestinian refugee – allowing future generations to be considered refugees; terming as refugees Arabs who have been resettled in other countries, such as hundreds of thousands in Jordan; removing the clause requiring persecution; and removing the clause requiring a refugee to be fleeing his or her “country of nationality or habitual residence.”
Palestinian leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, routinely refer to the “right of return,” claiming it is mandated by the U.N. But the two U.N. resolutions dealing with the refugee issue recommend that Israel “achieve a just settlement” for the “refugee problem.” The resolutions, which are not binding, do not speak of any “right of return” and leave open the possibility of monetary compensation or other kinds of settlements.