BDS IN THE PEWS
Alternative Information Center Factsheet
November 26, 2012
The Alternative Information Center (AIC) is a self-described “radical” political organization that operates on the extreme fringe of discourse concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict. Under the façade of “human rights” and “cooperation,” AIC uses highly offensive rhetoric, and promotes BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions), “Gaza Freedom Flotillas,” and other campaigns that do not contribute to peace. Numerous examples are provided in the documentation below.
During the Gaza war of November 2012, AIC’s rhetoric included the absurd claim that the purpose of Israeli attacks was to “increase international sales of the ‘Iron Dome’ air defence system.” An AIC tweet on the deaths of three Israeli civilians from a rocket attack included the hashtag “#supportgaza.” As detailed below, a number of European governments provide taxpayer funding to AIC, enabling the amplification of this counter-productive radical agenda.
- Founded by members of the Trotskyite anti-Zionist Revolutionary Communist League (Matzpen), AIC claims to be “an internationally oriented, progressive, joint Palestinian-Israeli activist organization. It is engaged in dissemination of information, political advocacy, grassroots activism and critical analysis of the Palestinian and Israeli societies as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
- Budget in 2009 (last available public documents): 2.2 million NIS (approximately €450,000)
- Funders in 2011 include 3F (Denmark), Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII (Italy, with funding from the EU), Spain, the Basque government, Belgium, the Catalan government, Diakonia (Sweden), ICCO (Netherlands), and Junta Castilla-La Manch.
- Co-founder Michael Warschawski accuses Israel of being a “colonial settler state” and has written that Israel has “put itself . . . outside the community of civilized countries.” He also asserted that “one has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders.” (The Haifa Conference for the Right of Return, June 2008).
- AIC supports “Recognition and fulfilment of the Palestinian Right of Return, as both an individual human and national collective right…”
Gaza Conflict – November 2012
- Sergio Yahni, “Israeli premeditated offensive against Gaza,” November 15, 2012: “The operation, Pillar of Defense, was not a reaction to five days of military escalation on the Gaza border, but a premeditated offensive prepared several months ahead by the Israeli army and General Security Services (GSS).”
- AIC Tweet, November 14, 2012: “Three #Israelis killed from rocket fire http://bit.ly/TFOi6G #Gaza #supportgaza.”
- BDS Movement, “Stop new massacre in Gaza: boycott Israel now!,” November 16, 2012: “Despite biased Western media reports to the contrary, it is clear that Israel has initiated and escalated this new assault on the eve of its upcoming parliamentary elections, underlining the time-honoured Israeli formula of Palestinian bodies for ballots.... The 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza have endured the worst of Israeli impunity and violence including being placed under a medieval siege, being subjected to deliberately created food insecurity and frequent acts of Israeli state terrorism. It is the duty of all supporters of international law and universal human rights to hold Israel accountable through effective measures, such as those called for in the global, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
- Sergio Yahni, “Gaza attacks as ad for sale of military equipment,” November 18, 2012: “Israel’s latest round of military attacks on the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip fulfill several Israeli goals, one of them perhaps being increased international sales of the ‘Iron Dome’ air defence system which Israel is deploying to intercept and destroy short-range rockets shot from Gaza.”
BDS and Lawfare Activities
- AIC endorsed the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) National Committee’s Strategy Position Paper for the Durban Review Conference, which accused Israel of “apartheid, colonization, and occupation.” This paper also calls for “holding to account those responsible, in particular the State of Israel, its organs and agents [i.e. World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund],” for “massive violation[s] of human rights and war crimes.”
- Warschawski supports the imposition of sanctions on Israel because it “can provide an excellent framework to fight normalization with Israel.”
- Partners include Spanish NGOs, Mundubat, Sodepau, and ACSUR Las Segovias which are active in highly politicized campaigns against Israel, including promoting BDS.
- Supported the so-called “Flytilla” to Ben Gurion Airport in July 2011, aimed a causing civil disturbances and confrontations with Israeli security officials.
- AIC Vision is a weekly program that features biased and highly politicized perspectives on Israel current events. AIC Vision segments are one-sided and actively promote BDS.
- In “Israeli occupation, accountability, BDS” (November 7, 2012), Adri Nieuwhof, a BDS activist, “presented a statement in support of BDS to last month’s international solidarity conference of the African National Conference (ANC).” Nieuwhof stated, “We once galvanized world opinion against Apartheid South Africa, the time is to now galvanize world opinion against Apartheid Israel.”
- In “In the Land of Sad Olives” (November 13, 2012), AIC interviewed Nidal Azza from Badil, an NGO whose funding was reviewed by Switzerland following publication of antisemitic imagery on its website.
AIC’s website contains numerous statements supporting BDS and demonizing Israel using labels such as “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.” Examples include:
- During the 2008-2009 Gaza war, AIC published articles titled “Israeli War Crimes, International Responsibility” (Ahmad Jaradat, January 7, 2009) and “Barak and all Israeli Leaders—To the Hague” (Michael Warschawski, January 15, 2009). AIC has published numerous other articles in support of politicized legal actions against Israeli officials (“lawfare”).
- “Israel Commits Massacre, Piracy in International Waters against Freedom Flotilla,” May 31, 2010: “This morning, 31 May 2010, the Israeli navy perpetrated a new crime against humanity when it attacked the Freedom Flotilla...This aggressive attack against the Freedom Flotilla is an astounding crime in meaning and dimension. It is an attack against unarmed civilian ships. This is a crime and an act of piracy in international waters.”
- Michael Warschawski, “The Neo-Barbarians,” October 24, 2006: “The Israeli war against the Palestinians is clearly aimed at destroying Palestinian society and transforming the Palestinians from a nation into scattered tribes, as the Americans are trying to do in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Indeed, all wars are barbaric, but the Israeli war in the OPT (and its broader context, the endless preemptive war against terrorism) represents a new stage in modern barbarism. Though the definition of “genocide” is wrong, one can adopt Bir Zeit University Professor Salah Abdel Jawad’s from definition of ‘sociocide,’ or Israeli sociologists’ concept of ‘politicide.’”
- Ilan Pappe, “Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank,” January 30, 2008
- Michael Warschawski, “Palestinian right of return: Abu Mazen gave up? So what?,” November 5, 2012: “In the colonial context of the Israeli mind, every Palestinian step backwards strengthens the position of those, who today represent the majority in Israel, who aspire to destroy Palestine.”
- Mazin Qumsiyeh (Palestinian known for his radical writings), “Time for change?,” May 6, 2012: “Like in the struggle in South Africa under apartheid, it is a struggle that pits two very different visions of the area: one of racism and apartheid and the other of justice and equality. Sporadic acts of heroic popular resistance are not enough to reach peace with justice. Coordination and joint action must take place… Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) give us hope.”
- “Gaza footballers to FC Barcelone: don’t host Shalit,” September 28, 2012, in support of a petition barring Gilad Shalit from attending a soccer game in Spain: “We were both surprised and saddened to learn that the former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is to be invited as a guest of honour of Barcelona Football Club to the clásico against Real Madrid on October 7 at Barcelona football stadium. We understand that this is a gesture of good will by the Club towards a person who has suffered five long years of captivity in the Gaza Strip and who has made known his admiration for the Barcelona team. However, the former soldier Gilad Shalit is not just an Israeli citizen; he's also Sergeant Major of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)…The IDF plays a crucial part in the strategy of colonisation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing implemented by the Israeli regime in these Palestinian and Syrian territories over the last 45 years.”
- Numerous articles label Israel as an “apartheid” state, often using the false comparison of Israel to Apartheid South Africa; these analogies frequent AIC articles and opinion pieces, including an August 2012 article entitled “Palestine’s big sister South Africa: precedents and pitfalls.”
- Michael Warschawski, “Mayor of Geneva to observe Russell Tribunal in NY,” September 27, 2012: “The AIC has been part of this civic initiative from its very first steps. Given the lack of international accountability for alleged Israel war crimes and the fact that all attempts to try Israeli military and political leaders in an international court of justice failed, our duty was at the very least to initiate a civic tribunal possessing outstanding moral weight…The Alternative Information Center is definitely proud to be amongst those who have convinced the Mayor of Geneva to be an observer at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.”
- “Why we boycott the Knesset elections,” October 13, 2012: “In Palestine there are some 10 million people, living under the rule of Israeli Apartheid. About half of them are Palestinians. The real numbers are not available, as the distortion of statistics is part of the demographic war… There are more that 5 million Palestinians in the Diaspora. They were expelled from their homes in order to create the ‘Jewish majority’ that will give the Israeli state the false credentials as democracy…We will not take part in this farce. We will not participate with the Zionist occupiers in ‘democratically’ deciding the fate of the occupied and expelled Palestinians.”