|In their own words||“a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation… established by The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme [Connecticut] to provide cross-cultural and transnational travel experiences, interfaith conferences and educational opportunities to help participants to become more enlightened and more engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world in which to live.”|
- In FY 2019-2020, total income was $139,502; total expenses were $123,989.
- Since 2003, Tree of Life has organized trips to Israel and the West Bank. Participants of the tours meet with members of highly politicized NGOs including Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Youth against Settlements, Omar Barghouti (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel-PACBI), Arab Human Rights Center, Jeff Halper (Israeli Committee against House Demolitions-ICAHD), Sahar Vardi (American Friends Service Committee), Breaking the Silence, and Parents Circle Families Forum.
- Upon completion of the program, the participants return to their home countries where many engage in anti-Israel advocacy, including advocating for BDS campaigns and asking to “stop sending billions of dollars worth of weapons to Israel.”
- In May 2021, Tree of Life organized a rally that “connected human rights abuses, state-sanctioned violence and attempts at ethnic cleansing in Colombia, Israel and Gaza, and the United States.” Participants were “marching to demand that the U.S. stop financing the apartheid state of Israel.”
- In 2017 and 2021, Tree of Life endorsed US Congresswoman McCollum’s proposed legislation meant to advance BDS and demonization of Israeli companies and defense forces. The entirety of the proposed bill is premised on factually inaccurate claims from anti-Israel advocacy NGOs, including direct quotes from Defense for Children International -Palestine’s “No Way to Treat a Child” 2016 report and website.
- In October 2018, Tree of Life hosted a speaking tour to discuss those “who suffer from a cruel occupation in which even children are subjected to inhumane and, according to international law, illegal treatment.” The speaking tour will feature Ruba Awadallah (Defense for Children International –Palestine) and Eran Efrati (former director of Israeli Committee against House Demolitions-USA (ICAHD) and chief researcher of Breaking the Silence).
- Several DCI-P current and former officials, employees, and board members have close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
- Hashem Abu Maria, coordinator of DCI-P’s community mobilization unit, was hailed by the PFLP as a “leader” after his death in 2014. On September 23, 2014, DCI-P uploaded a video of a memorial service for Abu Maria, featuring a speech by DCI-P General Director, Rifat Odeh Kassis. The courtyard where the memorial service took place was decorated with PFLP flags, posters, and pictures of prominent PFLP figures, such as founder George Habash and former leader Ahmed Sa’adat. Nearly all of the audience were dressed in PFLP apparel.
- In September 2017, as part of its Palestinian Film Festival, Tree of Life screened the film “Roadmap to Apartheid,” which falsely compares “South African apartheid to Israeli policies in Palestine,” and discussed “why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today.”
- In May 2017, Tree of Life endorsed a petition titled “Workers Support Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike” alleging that Israel’s “relentless state violence reflects the continuing Nakba, Israel’s 69-year-old ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinian people,” as well as stating that “like Jim Crow and apartheid South Africa, Zionist settler colonialism will one day fall to the unstoppable tide of popular mass resistance.”
- Encourages followers to sign its “Petition for a Just Peace in Israel/ Palestine,” which states that the organizations is “particularly concerned with our nation’s history of support for the State of Israel” and urges the United States to “withdraw financial/military support.” The petition accuses Israel of maintaining a “matrix of control” over the Palestinian population and urges Israel to remove all “military checkpoints, by-pass roads, and its separation wall built on Palestinian lands,” thereby omitting all Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians, as well as Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense. The petition further advocates for a Palestinian “right of return,” which would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- Highly active in promoting anti-Israel BDS campaigns.
- In July 2021, Tree of Life Vice President John Fussell published an article titled “Time to reconsider U.S.’s unconditional support for Israel.” According to Fussell, “Ongoing military occupation of one people by another, apartheid, and persecution are an affront to humanity and undermine U.S. interests.”
- In June 2020, during the Black Lives Matter protests, Tree of Life signed a letter to Congress calling to “divest from militarism and policing, from the US to Palestine.” According to the letter, “Just as we join in the demand for our tax dollars to be divested from brutal police violence and a repressive military response to protesters asserting that #BlackLivesMatter, we call for an end to U.S.-funded violence abroad.”
- In May 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, Vice President of Tree of Life John T. Fussell published an op-ed, “The U.S. Must Exercise Influence to Stop Israel’s Killing of Unarmed Palestinian Protestors,” stating that “Our nation’s fatal embrace of Israel has produced untold suffering and apartheid… The sniper fire and siege of Gaza continues. Such actions are antithetical to furthering equality, democracy, and a just peace. Congress must stop rewarding Israel’s bad behavior and exert economic and diplomatic pressure to end the Israel/Palestine tragedy.”
- In November 2017, Tree of Life sponsored a conference titled “Balfour’s Legacy: Confronting the Consequences,” which featured a workshop on how to “defend BDS at the state and federal levels.”
- In October 2017, Tree of Life Board Member Elaine Brouillard was a signatory on a letter to the Members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight stating that “Many of us are part of denominations and national faith organizations which have already divested from companies that profit from the Israeli military occupation…we are responsive to the call from the Palestinian churches to support BDS as the best hope for ending the 50-year occupation.”
- In January 2016, Fussell wrote a letter to the president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) stating that “The international pressure applied to South Africa through boycotts, divestments and sanctions helped free Mandela and forced negotiations that ended the racist apartheid system. The same type of lnternational solidarity is now required to force lsrael to end the occupation and negotiate a fair and just peace.”
- In 2015, Tree of Life held a conference alongside Jewish Voice for Peace, Sabeel North America, and Kairos USA that discussed “how BDS can be an even more effective instrument of change.”
- Posted a message of “thanks” to “all our friends in the United Church of Christ (UCC) who with the support of Jewish Voice for Peace helped to pass a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution at the UCC’s General Synod in Cleveland. We were proud to have a number of those in our Tree of Life community involved in this effort.”
- Many of Tree of Life’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors have documented histories of anti-Israel activities.
- Mark Braverman
- Braverman is the Executive Director of Kairos USA, an Advisory Board member of Friends of Sabeel North America, and board member of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions USA (ICAHD- USA).
- Braverman has compared the Nazi Holocaust to the State of Israel, called Zionism a threat to Jewish identity and has “criticized the exploitation of Christian feelings of complicity in and guilt for the Holocaust to promote Zionism.”
- Repeatedly refers to Judaism as “tribal,” “isolationist,” “exceptionalist” and to contemporary Jews as “paranoid.”
- While speaking at a Sabeel conference, Braverman “claimed that Zionism is killing the soul of the Jewish people and that ‘some day we will be on our knees in contrition.”
- Advocates supercessionism: “Christianity came to take Judaism, what was wonderful and revolutionary about Judaism – you know monotheism, one God, ethical monotheism – pull it out of its tribal framework and make it universal. It’s obvious, that is where Judaism was supposed to go… the Jews said ‘thanks very much, we’re going to stay with what we have, we’re the Chosen People, we’re the Elect, thank you, thank you.’” (Statement at 2014 Friends of Sabeel-North America Workshop: Toward a Post-Nakba Theology: The Urgent Role for Faith Communities to Bring About Peace Based on Justice). Click here to read quotes from Braverman’s speech at the workshop.
- Allison McCracken Jarrar
- McCracken-Jarrar, member of the Board of Directors of Tree of Life, is Amnesty-USA’s North American Campaigner, and formerly served as the co-director of CODEPINK – a leading BDS organization in the US.
- In September 2016, McCracken-Jarrar was scheduled to speak at a Capitol Hill briefing titled “What is BDS?” The event was cancelled following the withdrawal of congressional sponsorship.
- In September 2015, McCracken participated in a US Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference, giving a workshop titled “BDS 101: Building a Campaign.”
- In October 2014, McCracken-Jarrar called for the US to stop funding Israel’s military stating, “Under President Obama, we’ve actually increased US military aid to Israel, up to $3.8 billion every year…we’re giving it to Israel, which is using it to buy weapons, mostly from American weapons manufacturers, to kill people in Gaza.”
- Hassan Fouda serves on the of Board of Directors of Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD-USA).
- Board of Advisors includes Ilan Pappe, Barbara Lubin (Middle East Children’s Alliance), Ann Wright (CODEPINK), and Mazin Qumsiyeh.
- Ilan Pappe, is an academic at the University of Exeter and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. He is a supporter of BDS and violence against Israel, stating: “I support Hamas in its resistance against the Israeli occupation.” Pappe’s article “Genocide in Gaza” refers to the “Palestinian resistance” and uses terms such as “imprisoning Gaza,” “massacres,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide politics” to describe the actions of the Israeli government. In a 2014 lecture, Pappe claimed that a two-state framework is “just a tool where [Israel] maintains control over the [Palestinians].”
- MECA founder and Executive Director Barbara Lubin wrote, “I think that the Jewish State is racist to the core.” Lupin refers to the 1948 “ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population” and wrote that “[t]he concept of ‘Jewish morality’ is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.” In January 2013, Lubin was a signatory on a statement titled “Jews for Palestinian Right of Return,” which stated that “relentless ethnic cleansing continues- armed and financed by the U.S. and its allies,” and discussed how “Israel inflicts particularly brutal collective punishment.”
- Ann Wright is an activist with CODEPINK. Wright “was a boat leader on the 2015 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and…the Zaytouna, the Women’s Boat to Gaza in 2016.” In 2007, Wright was denied entry into Canada due to her participation in anti-war-in-Iraq protests. In February 2018, Wright spoke at an event sponsored by Sabeel, CODEPINK, and Jewish Voice for Peace in favor of BDS and the Freedom Flotilla.
- Mazin Qumseyeh is the co-founder of the Al Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition and member of the steering committee of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Qumseyeh has engages in Holocaust-denial when he writes “in ‘democratic’ Europe there are countries were you can examine and challenge any historical event except the Zionist version of WWII history” (emphasis added). Qumseyeh has also written about how “the Zionist controlled media does not dare publish reality: what is happening on the ground to people. The popular resistance is all but ignored by the self delusional right wing Zionists and their managed media outlets” (emphasis added).
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