The Olive Tree Initiative (OTI): George Rishmawi and the Siraj Center Raise Concerns

July 19, 2011

He said that Peace Now claimed that 83% of settlements are on confiscated Palestinian land when in fact they had claimed the number was 40% and much of their data had proved to be based on incomplete records and was incorrect.
…and the Jewish Federation of Orange County is involved with these haters.

George Rishmawi may no longer be formally with ISM, but his perspective and approach are not likely to improve the understanding of Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) students, help them develop conflict resolution skills, or help pave the way to conciliation and peace either on the UCI campus or in the Middle East. That Rishmawi and his group are so integral to OTI’s programming casts doubt on the value of OTI itself. Speaking at UC Irvine on Nov. 22, 2010, Rishmawi said he broke with ISM several years ago over personal differences with co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, but his current goals are quite similar to those of ISM when it was originally founded: bring young “internationals” to the West Bank on tours and to live with selected Palestinian families, encourage them to become “ambassadors” who will repeat the narrative Rishmawi orchestrates, and inspire them to participate in “non-violent” actions like protesting the security fence in Bil’in. more via Roberta P. Seid, PhD 

George Rishmawi co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) along with Adam Shapiro, Huwaida Arraf, and Ghassan Andoni. Led by Palestinians working closely with American recruiters, the ISM invites individuals from the West to come to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and disrupt the counter-terrorism efforts of the Israeli Defense Force. Rishmawi directs the activities of ISM volunteers on the ground.

Rishmawi is also a director of Alternative Tourism, a group that was formed in 1995 to act as a propaganda organ for Palestinian terrorist elements that have no interest in peace – portraying Palestinians as victims of unyielding Israeli oppression and brutality. Alternative Tourism was established to greet and aid ISM volunteers who come to Israel. In April 2003, two Pakistani Muslims from Great Britain entered Israel through Jordan as clients of Alternative Tourism; they met with ISM leaders for an entire day in Gaza before proceeding on to Tel Aviv, where they bombed a popular beach bar, Mike’s Place, killing three people.  image via a non reputable source: Bob May


Why is the Jewish Federation of Orange County funding anti-Semitism?

June 23, 2011

Jewish Federation money has funded meetings between students at the University of California at Irvine and Hamas members. Nicole Hungerford of Front Page tries to cut through all the Federation denials.

Also in the absence of an investigation, only a matter of weeks after the Hamas meeting was made known to Drake, University of California President Mark Yudof donated $5000 to the OTI via the Lumina Foundation for Education. This was followed in May 2010 with a $2000 award to the OTI by Yudof for the university’s Presidential Leadership Award. For such generous support, the university has been woefully remiss.
But OTI students meet with an abundance of radical anti-Israel activist who are just as objectionable as Duwaik. Explaining the JFOC’s enduring support, federation president and CEO Shalom Elcott told the Post, “We could all agree that we don’t love all the speakers, but we have to work with American Jews to develop a greater understanding about how important that diversity of opinions in Israel is. Our job is to work with OTI and open the door to the best possible teachers and people who know the facts on the ground and make sure they’re engaged on the trip” (emphasis added).
To be clear, Elcott’s definition of the “best possible teachers and people who know the facts on the ground” includes: George S. and George N. Rishmawi, both co-founders of the ISM, a group that openly endorses Palestinian terrorism; Mazim Qumsiyeh, a leading figure and co-founder of the economic warfare movement against Israel, who also promotes the anti-Semitic lie that Israel, the only non-apartheid nation in the Middle East, is an apartheid state comparable to Nazi Germany (which also causes all wars in the region); UN Gaza refugee director John Ging, who has accused Israel of creating a humanitarian crisis and supports the foreign flotilla assaults on the Gaza blockade; representatives from organizations such as Ir Amin, which has accused Israel of pursing policies of “Judaization;” representatives from Human Rights Watch, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes and various human rights abuses; and numerous others.

The JFOC has also been dishonest in the disclosure of its funding of the OTI. The federation has publicly denied that it provides significant funding of the program. In December of 2010, Jeff Margolis, co-chair of the federation’s Rose Project (through which the federation says it funds the OTI), told Pajamas Media that the project provides “nominal” funding of the OTI, and Margolis told the Post that the federation was “only one of a number of sponsors.” But in fact, the federation letter to Chancellor Drake regarding the Hamas meeting identifies the federation as the “largest funder” of the OTI and further describes the federation as being central to the program’s development. Moreover, documents recently obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that the Rose Project has given tens of thousands of dollars to the OTI in the last several years. Notably, in the Post article, neither Elcott nor Margolis denied that Jewish communal funds have been used to fund the program, as Post editor Caroline Glick claimed in a recent column. The use of communal philanthropic funds has been a major bone of contention for opponents of the OTI, and is a characterization that the federation has objected to. In all reality, however, the issue of communal fund use is largely moot, as any support whatsoever for the program is objectionable.
The purpose of the OTI is clear for anyone with eyes to see: by taking the most anti-Israel of the anti-Israel fringe and putting it on par and in such considerable proportion to mainstream views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the OTI seeks to render virulent anti-Israelism mainstream by association. And contrary to what the OTI claims, where these insidious views are provided a legitimate platform, the public discourse drastically degenerates and naked anti-Semitism thrives.

Read the whole thing.
I’ll tell you this much: If I lived in Orange County, I would not give money to the federation. via israelmatzav.blogspot.com