Image from Fadi Madi’s Yahoo forum
A conversation group hosted by Yahoo.com is allegedly being used to build support for a new campaign of violence against Israel.
Lebanese-born activist Fadi Madi says he started the groups Lebanon View and Palestine Intifada to garner support for a new “intifada,” or uprising, against Israel.
One of the events promoted is the Gaza Freedom March, a five-day protest scheduled to begin Dec. 27 that will begin in Cairo and culminate in Gaza.
News of the Gaza protest comes on the heels of the Middle East Media Research Institute reporting Palestinian officials are considering a new anti-Israel intifada.
In a message sent through the Lebanon View group, Madi says he hopes the march is the beginning of a new international movement.
“As an international movement … our faith in our common humanity leads us to call on all parties to respect and uphold international law and fundamental human rights to bring an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories since 1948 and pursue a just and lasting peace. The march can only succeed if it arouses the conscience of humanity.”
The campaign declares “an end to the military occupation that began in 1948 is a major condition for establishing a just and lasting peace.”
The meaning is clear. Madi seeks the elimination of Israel.
Lebanon View e-mails feature a link to a dissolution of Israel petition.
When initially contacted about the sites, Yahoo said the company encourages dialogue.
“Our goal for Yahoo Groups and all of our online communities is to foster dialogue and interactions that are safe, meaningful, and respectful. We take the rights of our users very seriously, including their right to freedom of expression. At the same time, and as expressed in our Yahoo! Groups Guidelines, we do not permit harassment or abuse or threats or advocacy of violence.”
When informed that the sites were being used to gain support for rebellion against Israel and were linked to sites promoting armed conflict, Yahoo released a statement through spokeswoman Fiona Tang.
“Yahoo is taking this matter very seriously and is actively looking into this matter,” she said.
The Israeli government also has not responded to requests for comment on this story.
E-mail bulletins and press releases for the march say American novelist Alice Walker and Philippine peace activist Walden Bello will participate in the event.
Walker, author of the novel “The Color Purple,” is a well-known supporter of the Palestinian cause. Walker’s website features video of her participating in a Gaza protest marking International Women’s Day.
Walden Bello is the author of several books centering on anti-American themes and radical causes. Two recent works are “Dilemmas of Domination,” focusing on the demise of American power, and a laudatory biography of North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh.
A spokesman for the Gaza Freedom March denied any connection with Fadi Madi and said the Lebanon-based Madi “is neither a leader nor a participant of any kind with the Gaza Freedom March.”
But who is Fadi Madi, and why is his march gaining such high-profile support?
Little is known about Madi, except that he was born into a Lebanese Muslim family and emigrated to Germany. Reports say he married a German woman and participated in campaigns to hold pro-Islam, anti-Israeli rallies in Germany.
According to reports, Madi’s political activities are the reason German officials arrested and deported him to Lebanon in 2004.
The German government says its Data Protection Act prohibits it from making any statements about Madi’s deportation.
It is on his websites that Madi openly rails against Israel. He writes on Lebanon View that he’s against “Zionism.”
“We declare the constitution of our international resistance; no to colonialism, no to slavery, no to Zionism and racism, no to imperialism, no to American hegemony, no to forest law, no to the globalisation of death and aggression, no to the destruction of moral and virtues, no to the commerce of slaves and countries, no to the American Zionist terror.”
His front-page message ends with an appeal for money.
“Please support this work today – these initiatives cannot continue without your financial support. The Anti-US and Israeli Globalization and Hegemony Movement.”
Writing in September 2004 for the radical Italian site Campo Antiimperialista, Madi believes his arrest makes him a hero of the cause.
“Just remember we were one unit all around the world, saying in all cities to end the occupation in Palestine and Iraq,” he said. “It’s only because of my words that they arrested me at the Berlin airport and held me for 12 hours. They deported me to Lebanon. …”
Madi has a Facebook page about “the resistance” in Lebanon. His writings reveal that the resistance is against Israel.
The Lebanon View page has drawn high-powered Arab supporters. One contributor to the page is Egyptian journalist and activist Iman Badawi. Badawi’s journalism career involves Palestinian issues, intifada, jihad and social justice.
A regular contributor to IslamOnline, one of her most recent stories is “Tortured to Death,” a story about Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri’s brother Yusef Abu Zuhri, who was tortured to death in an Egyptian prison.
Badawi has sent frequent messages to the site, urging the readers to join the Gaza Freedom March scheduled for Dec. 27, 2009, to Jan. 1, 2010.
She also urges supporters to sign a petition outlawing the nation of Israel.
Despite her record as a journalist and her writings on these sites, Badawi rejects the idea of her being an organizer.
“I do not belong to any organization, and I do not know from where you got this idea. I’m just an activist,” she says.
One link that repeatedly appears in the Arabic messages is to a site with a picture of a young girl biting barbed wire. It includes the English caption, “Freedom is only for those who are ready to die.”
Another linked site in Arabic has photographs of armed men and of cartoons that encourage resistance against Israel.
When questioned about the messages urging armed struggle against Israel, second site owner Fathi Milad responded that questions were the product of Western indoctrination.
“Now I could recognise that you are a Western citizen, and therefore you are, unfortunately, under the influence of Western media programmed to gloss over the issue of the Palestinian people.”
Milad proposes a solution but issues an ultimatum if his solution is not accepted.
“As a practical solution,” he said, “the state (of Israel) should be re-established to combine both Arabs and Jews in one democratic country based on respect for all religions, but, if this does not happen, the wars and tragedies will continue and I think in this case that the future of the State of Israel is questionable, despite what they look like today and despite the Western support.”