[Opinion] J Street and Congress Misled by Terrorist-linked NGO

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J Street can now be counted among the victims of a manipulative and false campaign to present Israel as a serial violator of children’s rights.

The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby has promoted a July 20 letter from Members of Congress to Secretary of State Pompeo, condemning Israel for “mistreatment of Palestinian children.”  Many of the NGO (non-governmental organization) claims repeated by these lawmakers have previously been exposed as half-truths or complete distortions.

Of greater concern is the central role played by those with ties to a terrorist organization in pushing this agenda.  Many of the document’s claims can be attributed to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), a Palestinian group with close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).  The latter is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Israel and Canada.

The relationship is exemplified by Hashem Abu-Maria, a former DCI-P coordinator, and Mahmoud Jiddah, a board member through 2012-2016.  After Abu-Maria’s 2014 death during violent clashes with the military, he was hailed by the PFLP as a “comrade” and “martyred leader” who “was in the ranks of the national liberation struggle and the PFLP from an early age”.  The PFLP also held public ceremonies in his honor.

Jiddah was jailed for carrying out grenade attacks on Israeli civilians in 1968. Several other current and former DCI-P employees and board members are also connected to the PFLP.

Through the “No Way to Treat a Child” campaign, DCI-P works to convince Congress to sanction Israel, by misrepresenting and decontextualizing key facts surrounding the detention of Palestinians accused of involvement in violent crimes.