Al-Shabaka-The Palestinian Policy Network


Country/TerritoryUnited States
Founded2010 as a “think tank without borders… whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law.”
In their own words“[d]raw upon the vast knowledge and experience of the Palestinian people, whether under occupation, in exile, or in Israel, so as to engage the broadest spectrum of perspectives in debate on policy and strategy” and “[c]ommunicate ideas and strategies on resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to… interested parties worldwide.”



  • Al-Shabaka rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.” Is also a major platform for justifications for BDS and related campaigns. Claims that the “opinions expressed in Al-Shabaka publications do not necessarily represent the views of the organization, the policy advisors or members, or its donors. Nor is Al-Shabaka responsible for any positions or actions by policy advisors or members in the network.”
  • In May 2018, on the occasion of “70 Years of Nakba,” Al-Shabaka analysts were asked “Where Can Palestinians Go from Here?” Razi Nabulse, a researcher at Masarat, recommended “using the Nakba itself by considering it not only an anniversary, but also a destructive system and continuous manifestation of the essence of Zionism that Palestinians must dismantle” (emphasis added). Irene Calis, an anthropologist, stated that “Palestinians must recognize that the problem is not occupation, but Zionism, and proposes a collective and strategic recalibration of political action that is focused on Zionism, de-colonization, and emancipation” (emphasis added).
  • In May 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, Al-Shabaka published a statement condemning “Israel’s violent response” against those “risking life and limb to protest the violations of their human rights.” The statement ignored the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
  • In March 2017, Program Director Alaa Tartir wrote an op-ed in Middle East Eye (an anti-Israel platform) accusing Israel of “the crime of apartheid” and using “blunt racist language…to describe the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their home by seeing them as a ‘demographic threat’,” which is “another tool for maintaining the apartheid regime.”
  • In January 2017, Al-Shabaka, with Al-Haq, Society of St. Yves, Badil, and Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center, posted an infographic aimed at “raising awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies in the city, its effects on the Palestinian population, and the gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law that arise.” The infographic claims that “Since 1967, apartheid prevails” and that Israel has “been enacting discriminatory policies” in Jerusalem.
  • On October 17, 2016, Al-Shabaka, alongside Al-Haq and Issa Amro, the coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, participated in a Capitol Hill lobby day briefing titled “Israeli Settlements: Their Impact on Palestinians Living Under Israeli Military Occupation,” discussing how settlement building “threaten[s] the prospects of a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
  • On October 11, 2016, Al-Shabaka Executive Director Nadia Hijab and two Policy Fellows participated in a panel called “Against Israel’s Colonial Tide: Palestinian Initiatives to Shape Their Future” to examine the “intersection of Israeli policies of occupation and containment which prevent Palestinian self-determination, with a focus on the experience for Palestinians of living under occupation in Jerusalem and Gaza and the ways Palestinians and their supporters are organizing politically, economically and culturally to protect their human rights and work towards a different future.”
  • In July 2013, Al-Shabaka hosted a roundtable, “Political Agency For Palestinian Return,” promoting the Palestinian “right of return,” the boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) campaign and accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “colonialism,” and “ethnic cleansing.”Roundtable rhetoric included:
    • Denial of Israel’s legitimacy: “[T]here is a need to build consensus – among Palestinians first and foremost since it unfortunately does not yet exist – that Israel’s Zionist regime over Palestinians before and after 1948 is best described as a regime of colonialism and apartheid, and that in the 1967 areas colonialism and apartheid are practiced ‘under the guise of occupation.’”
    • Lawfare and BDS: “[A] broad range of existing actions can and should be understood within the context of return. Such actions include the pursuit of civil rights in host countries, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, spatial documentation and planning efforts, and possible new legal avenues via the ICC, in addition to direct return actions.”
    • “Right of return” and demonizing rhetoric: “The fact that the Palestinians are victims of colonialism and apartheid further strengthens the right of return”; “[E]fforts for changing the balance of power by weakening and isolating Israel should be seen as efforts for refugee return.”
  • In April 2013, Samer Abdelnour, Al-Shabaka co-founder, published a policy brief titled “Beyond South Africa: Understanding Israeli Apartheid,” discussing how “‘Israeli Apartheid’ is a commonly used term to describe the racial violence and segregation enshrined in Israel’s institutions. Though Israel’s most ardent supporters will continue to resist the rhetoric of apartheid, the reality of apartheid in Israel is unmistakable.”
  • Published a policy brief, “The Russell Tribunal on Palestine and the Question of Apartheid,” promoting the third international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a “kangaroo court” held November 5-6, 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. The brief argued that the Tribunal “provide[d] carefully structured arguments…about the ways in which apartheid can be used to reframe the discourse around Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians” and noted that “It would be fitting if the South African people and government led the way in an international movement to pressure governments to amend their policies towards Israel and the Palestinians.”
  • In 2010, Nadia Hijab wrote an op-ed in Counterpunch accusing Israel of “genocide,” and while “Israel would not directly kill tens of thousands of Palestinians…it would create the conditions for tens of thousands to die. Any epidemic could finish the job.

BDS Activities

  • In July 2018, Al-Shabaka Palestine Policy Fellow Yara Hawari wrote an op-ed in Al Jazeera about the Irish BDS bill, which would make it illegal for Irish citizens and residents to import or sell “settlement goods” or to provide or attempt to provide “settlement services.” Hawari claimed “These products are made on stolen land with stolen resources, under the protection of a criminal regime. Their presentation and sale as legal products helps to normalise Israel’s crimes – the continuous annexation and colonisation of Palestinian land.”
  • In May 2018, Al-Shabaka supported the creation of the UN database of settlement businesses stating, “The database is a unique transparency tool and soft power enforcement mechanism that could provide a service to states and their corporate nationals who may become involved in illegal business activities…The mechanism would help states protect their legal orders and business communities from the consequences of breaches of international law entailed by business activities in settlements.”
  • In August 2016, Al-Shabaka, alongside Stop the Wall, released a policy brief titled “The ‘S’ in BDS: Lessons of the Elbit Systems Campaign,” discussing how the “call for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel is rooted not only in the Palestinian call to end Israel’s impunity and the world’s complicity with its apartheid regime. It is also part of a global struggle against wars and repression and against the militarization and securitization of society.”
  • In December 2016, Amal Ahmad, Al-Shabaka policy member, stated tactics such as BDS “exemplify” the strategy “around which a majority of Palestinians can rally and that does not need the validation of a formal democratic system…whose cornerstone is the civil and human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories, in Israel, and in the diaspora. These initiatives capitalize on strengths and hit Israeli apartheid where it hurts.”
  • In October 2016, Hadar Eid, Al-Shabaka policy advisor, explained that he supports BDS as it “aims to exert pressure of Israel to put an end to Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression, namely, occupation, colonization, and apartheid, in order to enable the Palestinian people to practice its right to self-determination.”
  • In October 2016, Samer Abdelnour, Al-Shabaka co-founder, participated in a discussion about boycotts as a campaign to “remind the world that Israel is not a normal country with which to do business and will not be as long as Palestinians remain under occupation, under siege, and in camps…BDS is hardly an offensive gesture…it is a response to the ongoing and brutal occupation.”
  • Omar Barghouti, Al-Shabaka policy advisor, wrote a 2010 article, “BDS: A Global Movement for Freedom and Justice,” claiming that “BDS does indeed challenge Israel’s ‘essential nature.’” The article states that the Palestinian Civil Society Campaign for BDS against Israel was launched in response to “Zionist settler colonialism” and as a “qualitative new phase of resistance to Israel occupation, dispossession and apartheid against the indigenous people of Palestine.”

Policy Advisors

  • Many of the organization’s policy advisors consistently advocate for dismantling Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Policy advisors include: Ameer Makhoul, convicted of spying for Hezbollah; Grace Said, organized a major 2009 Sabeel conference in Washington, DC; Ali Abunimah, co-founder and executive director of Electronic IntifadaOmar Barghouti, co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, founding member of the BDS Campaign and co-founder and former director of Badil; Muhammad Jaradat, co-founder of Badil; and Issam Younis of Al-Mezan and the Gaza Community Mental Health Program.
  • In a March 2015 Ha’aretz op-ed promoted on Al-Shabaka’s website, Sam Bahour, writing in his capacity as an Al-Shabaka policy adviser, called on Palestinians to work to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state and implement a “one-state” framework: “If Palestinians redefine their self-determination away from statehood and toward civil rights, the game is over – even if the struggle for full civil rights lasts another 50 years. One day, Jewish Israelis and Jews around the world could find themselves gazing at the erstwhile ‘Jewish State’ and admiring (in spite of themselves) Israel’s new, grand, pluralistic incarnation….”
  • In a November 2015 op-ed for Gulf News promoted on Al-Shabaka’s website, Al-Shabaka policy adviser and former PLO advisor Diana Buttu rejected a “two-state model,” arguing that “It is past time to move to a different model, one that focuses not on the division of land that has never historically been divided, nor on the creation of a ‘state’, but that instead focuses on the fulfilment of rights.”
  • Omar Barghouti – At a 2014 conference, the Al-Shabaka policy adviser said: “A Jewish state in Palestine, in any shape or form, cannot but contravene the rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population, and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically, as we would oppose a Muslim state or a Christian state or any kind of exclusionary state. Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, [no] rational Palestinian- not a sellout Palestinian- would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” (emphasis added)
    • Barghouti is one of the authors of the 2007 “One State Declaration”: “The two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other.”
  • Ali Abunimah- In a May 2014 interview, the Al-Shabaka policy adviser remarked, “If Israel is indeed a normal state among the nations, as its Zionist founders wish it to be, then it has no greater ‘right to exist’ than East Germany, Czechoslovakia, South Vietnam, or the Soviet Union.” (emphasis added)
    • In an April 2014 op-ed in the New York Times, Abunimah wrote that “Efforts to ‘solve’ the situation by creating separate, ethnically homogenous states for the colonizing society, on the one hand, and for the victims of the colonization, on the other — along the lines of apartheid South Africa’s Bantustan system — have failed.”
    • In 2010 tweeted, “Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.” (emphasis added)
    • In a 2009 panel discussion, Abunimah asked, “Will Israel make the wise choice that de Klerk and the apartheid leaders in South Africa made: to agree voluntarily to dismantle this system, to de-Zionize the state of Israel and decolonize Palestine and seek a peaceful solution?” (emphasis added)
  • Dianna Buttu
    • The former PLO official spoke at a March 2012 “One State Conference” at Harvard University whose goal was “to educate ourselves and others about the possible contours of a one-state solution and the challenges that stand in the way of its realization.” (The conference featured other speakers tied to RBF grantees such as Dalit Baum [American Friends Service Committee-AFSC official and Who Profits founder] and Brant Rosen [official at Jewish Voice for Peace-JVP and AFSC]).
    • In a January 2013 roundtable discussion on Al-Jazeera, Buttu remarked, “The root cause of the problem is Zionism, and if you unpackage Zionism, which is exclusive Jewish privilege, then yes, things will be undone.” (emphasis added)
    • In an April 2012 interview, Buttu stated “What, for me, the idea of one-state is about is … breaking apart the system of privilege that exists and being able to live as an equal. That’s the kind of state that I’m looking for.” (emphasis added)

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