On July 10, 2019, the “launch of the Youth Program in East Jerusalem” will take place at the Jerusalem French Institute Chateaubriand “in the presence of OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), the Jerusalem Governorate, all the [French] regional and local authorities taking part in the project, and the Al Bustan center.”
The individual listed as the contact person for the program is Daoud Ghoul, who, in 2015, was convicted of membership in the PFLP terrorist organization.
The 2019-2021 project “towards the youth of East Jerusalem” was initiated by the “Decentralized cooperation network for Palestine” (Le réseau de coopération décentralisée pour la Palestine; RCDP), a French association that “intends to coordinate and support French local authorities wishing to establish or maintain cooperation with local Palestinian authorities,” “in partnership with the Consulate General of France [in Jerusalem] and the support of [the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs] MEAE.” The local project partner is the Al Bustan Center, “a socio-cultural center.”
The project is funded by various local French government bodies, including MEAE (€204,000), the municipality of Rennes (€34,286), the municipality of Ivry-Sur-Seine (€21,429), the municipality of Gennevilliers (€21,429), and the Loire Atlantique departmental council (€12,857). The total project budget is €394,928 (see appendix for details).
PFLP Terror Ties
Daoud Ghoul, who is referred to as an Al Bustan cultural center founder, serves as the official project contact and is described as a “member of the administrative council and treasurer.” Another official document describes him as Al Bustan’s project supervisor while in the same document stating that Ghoul is not employed by the organization.
In 2015, Ghoul was convicted for his membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the EU, the US, Canada, and Israel. Following his conviction, Ghoul was sentenced to 18-months imprisonment.
According to a Jerusalem District Court verdict [67637-03-16; translation by NGO Monitor], “at a date prior to 2006, the appellant [Daoud Ghoul] joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine organization, worked in management positions at the Nidal Centre, a place of activity for the organization [PFLP], and in the Union of Health Work Committees-Jerusalem [Health Work Committees]1…the framework under which the organization [PFLP] began to operate after the Nidal Centre was closed in 2009. In that capacity, the appellant organized – among other things- trips, extra-curricular activities and summer camps for youth- some of which were named for terrorists that were active in the organization- and organized visits to the families of fallen and incarcerated members of the organization” (emphasis added). Ghoul “acted in order to bring the Palestinian public closer to the [PFLP] organization” (emphasis added).
The verdict further details that “the appellant has two criminal convictions in his past for membership in a terrorist organization in 2005 and 2006, and for ideologically motivated violent crimes, for which he was sentenced to significant jail sentences of 12 and 18 months. Nevertheless, this was not sufficient to deter him and he returned to commit offences in the years following his release” (emphasis added).
On November 27, 2016, Al Bustan cultural center published a Facebook post marking Ghoul’s release from Israeli prison. The post referred to his arrest and explained that Ghoul “was convicted by the Israeli Occupation Court of membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
In addition, in February 2019, a member of the French communist party posted a picture on Facebook of a regional French politician standing next to Salah Hamouri in Al Bustan’s offices. The photo caption states that “Abdel Sadi (the local politician) with our comrade and friend Salah Hamouri at the Al Bustan Center in Jerusalem for a meeting with the association that runs the social center of which Salah is a member. We are happy to see our comrade and compatriot free in his country.”
In 2008, Hamouri, a Palestinian-French citizen, was sentenced by Israel to seven years in prison for belonging to the PFLP, and for an attempt to attack the former chief rabbi of Israel. In 2017-2018, Hamouri was incarcerated for being a “security threat.”
In November 2017, RCDP organized “The Night of the Friends of Palestine” event in partnership with several groups, including “the Palestine Embassy in Paris, UNESCO, the United Nations Committee of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the [French] Ministry of Europe and French Foreign Affairs and the French Consul of Jerusalem.” The event, attended by several French regional and local authorities, served as a fundraiser for a “project for the youth of East Jerusalem.” Subsequently, in December 2017, “following the proposal of the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem, RCDP general assembly…and its local authority members decided to work with Al Bustan Center, a socio-cultural center for youth and located in an area particularly affected by evictions and demolitions.”
The partnership description explains that “while the youth of East Jerusalem suffers from psychological pressure, the Al Bustan socio cultural center appears as an alternative to its confinement. Founded by young people in the Silwan neighborhood, which is heavily affected by the demolitions, this center offers psychological support, cultural activities, sports, etc to some 500 children. In the face of this situation, the city of Gennevilliers, with the support of the RCDP and French local authorities decided to set up a project to support this center, by training young people in sport, culture, social health and citizenship.”
Al Bustan’s Project Partners
Several local French government bodies, which have been involved in anti-Israel activities, are partnering with Al Bustan on this project. For example:
- Loire-Atlantique Departmental Council – In November 2018, the Loire-Atlantique Departmental Council hosted an antisemitic event “that questioned Israel’s right to exist” (for more information, see NGO Monitor blog in French « Une assemblée départementale hôte d’une soirée-débat antisioniste »).
- Bezons Municipality – In June 2018, the Mayor of Bezons inaugurated “Nakba Alley” “in memory of the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of 532 villages in 1948 by the war criminal David Ben Gurion for the creation of the State of Israel.” Following criticism from Jewish groups in France, the State Representative of Val-d’Oise asked for “the immediate removal of the plaque” explaining that it “provokes controversies in local discourse that could evolve rapidly towards serious public disorder.”
- Gennevilliers Municipality – In April 2018, Patrice Leclerc, the Mayor of Gennevilliers was prevented by the Israeli authorities from entering Israel “due to his support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.” In November 2017, Israel denied entry “to seven members of a delegation of European officials,” including Leclerc, because “they had called for a boycott of Israel.” Israeli officials further justified the entry denial due to “the purpose of the visit [that] was to meet with the jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at Hadarim Prison. Barghouti was convicted in 2004 for a series of terror-related murders during the second Palestinian intifada and is currently serving five life sentences.”
- Ivry-Sur-Seine Municipality – In November 2016, the Municipal Council of Ivry-Sur-Seine voted to support “the boycott of Israeli products” despite the fact that such discriminatory boycotts are prohibited in France (according to the Court of Cassation).
Al Bustan’s problematic activities
On July 25, 2018, Al Busan published on Facebook pictures of a youth camp ceremony, in which young Palestinians wore flags on their T-shirts to represent various countries. The teenagers representing Israel and the United States brandished guns and proceeded to conduct a mock execution of “Palestine.”
In addition, in 2014, Al Bustan reposted multiple statements from members of terrorist organizations. For example:
- On November 18, 2014, following the massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood where four worshipers and an Israeli Druze police officer were murdered, Al Bustan published a Facebook post featuring the PFLP flag and repeating the words of a PFLP member who “praised the attack in Jerusalem and said: ‘We expect the official elements to adopt and support the PFLP operation and emphasize the importance of continuing the resistance to the occupation’” (emphasis added).
- On November 13, 2014, Al Bustan posted a message featuring “the official spokesman of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades Now on Al-Aqsa TV At the celebrations: the era of victory for Jerusalem and the holy martyrs” (emphasis added).
Appendix I: Project Funding 2019-2021
|Name of Government Donor||2019||2020||2021||Total|
|Val-De-Marne Departmental Council||€7,143||€7,143||€7,143||€21,429|
|Loire-Atlantique Departmental Council||€4,286||€4,286||€4,285||€12,857|
|Local Authorities and Foreign Partners||€3,333||€3,333||€3,333||€9,999|
|La Courneuve Municipality||€1,429||€1,429||€1,428||€4,286|
- In addition to Ghoul’s conviction, in 2015, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared Health Work Committees “an unauthorized association” (emphasis added).