by Jennie Taer
The U.S. State Department joined an initiative to welcome Afghan refugees into the country that is sponsored by organizations supporting groups with possible ties to Palestinian terrorist organizations, a Daily Caller News Foundation review found.
Welcome.US is part of the Office of American Possibilities initiative, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, according to its website. The initiative’s main co-chairs include former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The initiative also formed a coalition composed of nonprofit leaders and organizations, former government officials, corporate leaders and public figures. Businesses, including Starbucks, Uber, Facebook, Microsoft, Walmart and Airbnb, also support the effort.
Welcome.US received funding from grantmaking organizations such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, both of which have made contributions to groups with alleged terror ties, according to Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor.
“This is a moment in which committed philanthropic organizations are rightfully putting the vast majority of funding toward work happening on the front lines,” Welcome.US’s website states of its sponsors. “This group of funders chose to also enable the launch of Welcome.Us so that, together, we can amplify those efforts and mobilize the American people to support them.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promoted the initiative, emphasizing the U.S. government’s role in supporting the group. The State Department has also advertised the initiative on various official taxpayer-funded platforms.
“The goal of the State Department’s partnership with WelcomeUs, an initiative of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is to ensure that everyone who wants to lend a hand can find a way to do it and to match the massive desire to help with the very real needs of the families arriving here,” Blinken said in a promotional video posted Oct. 4. “Everyone has a role to play.”
The State Department declined to comment. Welcome.Us did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which supports Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to the tune of millions of dollars, is a philanthropic group seeking to advance social change, according to its website.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars in ongoing grants to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) and Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). Both of these organizations have been accused by NGO Monitor of having ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization since 1997, or its alleged affiliates.
Open Society Foundations funded Al-Haq and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, which allegedly also have ties to the PFLP. The Israeli government has referred to Al-Haq’s general director as a “former senior member of the PFLP.” An Al-Mezan leader was pictured with alleged PFLP members, according to NGO Monitor, and the organization participated in a past event with representation from Hamas, another U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
The Israeli government recently declared Al-Haq and DCIP arms of the PFLP. During the announcement,the Israeli defense minister urged other countries and international groups “to assist in this fight, and to avoid contact with companies and organizations that supply materials to terrorism,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price responded to the designations, saying that the Israeli government didn’t “give the U.S. advance warning that they would be designated.” He added that the administration will “be engaging our Israeli partners for more information.”
Defense for Children International-Palestine
DCIP seeks to support the rights of children living in the West Bank and Gaza, often advocating for Palestinian juveniles held in Israeli prisons, according to its website.
DCIP reported in July that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raided its office in the West Bank. The organization’s general director, Khaled Quzmar, said on Oct. 4 that the raid related to allegations that DCIP possessed materials used to carry out terrorist attacks.
“We asked them [the Israeli military courts] who raided the office. The answer was the Israeli army because they have information that there is materials used in a terror attack or maybe will [be] used, or maybe will [be] used with other terrorist organization,” Quzmar said. “So, they throw the accusation, general accusation, against DCI without any facts, so we asked the court to force the army to return back the computers and the documents that they took because it is for the work of the organization and no one [is] allowed to even see this information.”
The members of DCIP’s previous board of directors allegedly had ties to the PFLP, according to a report by NGO Monitor. DCIP assembled a new board in June 2020 made up of members who have, in the past, lauded alleged terrorists.
Quzmar called accusations that DCIP is connected to terrorist groups “fake news.”
“They have nothing against us except they want to silence us because we start talking … in public about their crimes and asking for accountability,” he said.
DCIP’s current board secretary Adla Nazer posted on Facebook in February 2018 her sympathy for Ahmed Jarrar, who was killed by Israeli forces, which considered him a “principal operative in the terrorist cell” that carried out a shooting of a rabbi. Hamas claimed Jarrar as a martyr, according to the Times of Israel.
Nazer made a similar post in Dec. 2018, sharing images of Salah Barghouti and Ashraf Na’alwa with the caption “Once more, what a loss for us — every drop of blood of theirs. What a bad morning,” according to a translation by NGO Monitor. Barghouti was allegedly responsible for a shooting attack that wounded seven people, including a pregnant woman whose baby had to be delivered in an emergency operation and was later pronounced dead, according to the Times of Israel. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack and called Barghouti a martyr after he was shot and killed by Israeli forces.
Na’alwa was responsible for shooting and killing two Israelis at a factory where he worked, according to Haaretz. He was later killed by Israeli forces, and Hamas subsequently praised efforts to avenge his death.
Dr. Yaser Amouri, DCIP’s treasurer, has also applauded alleged terrorists, according to NGO Monitor. Amouri posted in 2015 an image of a bloodied Yasser Tarwa, who carried out a stabbing that injured an Israeli police officer before being shot, with the caption “Blessed is the city of suffering. For martyrs eternity,” according to NGO Monitor’s translation. Images reported by the Times of Israel showed Tarwa wearing Hamas garb. The terrorist group called the attack “heroic.”
Amouri shared a picture in 2014 featuring late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and PFLP founder George Habash with the caption “Their condition as if said ‘if we were failed defenders of the [Palestinian] cause, it is more worthy that we would change the defenders and not the cause,” according to NGO Monitor’s translation. NGO Monitor has been criticized by activists as aggressively pro-Israel.
An IDF spokesperson confirmed that “as part of the campaign against terrorist organizations, based on accurate and up to date intelligence, security forces operated in the offices of the organization in question.” DCIP didn’t respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Donations to DCIP made through Citibank and Arab Bank were reportedly stopped in 2018 by both banks after the alleged terror ties were publicized, according to UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), which earlier urged the banks to withdraw services from DCIP. Citibank declined to comment, and Arab Bank did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
In 2019, UKLFI reported that GlobalGiving UK was removed from DCIP’s donations page, saying that the organization confirmed to UKLFI an investigation into the alleged terror ties.
GlobalGiving UK did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
A 2016 archived version of DCIP’s donation page shows that CitiBank and Arab Bank processed donations to the organization. The banks are no longer listed on the DCIP’s donations page.
Middle East Children’s Alliance
MECA’s 2019 IRS form 990 lists Open Society Foundation for a $200,000 contribution and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for a $70,000 contribution.
MECA seeks to protect the rights of Palestinians living in the Palestinian territories, according to its website. The organization is based in California.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1993 labeled the UHWC “the PFLP’s health organization.” MECA’s director of Gaza projects is described as a member of the UHWC, and its Gaza project assistant is noted as someone who volunteered for the UHWC.
Then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared in 2015 that “the group of people or institutions or association known as the ‘Union of Health Work Committees-Jerusalem [HWC]’…or any other name that this association will be known by, including all of its factions and any branch, center, committee or group of this association is an unauthorized association, as defined by the Defense Regulations,” according to NGO Monitor.
The UHWC said in June that Israeli forces raided its office and seized computer hard drives and other documents. The organization said its office had also been raided in March and an employee was detained as a result.
MECA did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment, nor did the UHWC.
Open Society Foundations, through its Foundation to Promote Open Society, has an ongoing $800,000 grant to Al-Haq. The general director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, is “a former senior member of the PFLP who has served time in prison due to his role in numerous terrorist activities,” the Israeli government said in 2020. The Israeli government also claimedthat Jabarin “employed PFLP terror operatives as Al-Haq staff.”
Al-Haq documents human rights violations against Palestinians, according to its website.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted in a 1994 decision that Jabarin “was apparently convicted” in 1985 of recruiting members to the PFLP and for coordinating “guerilla training outside of Israel.” Jabarin subsequently served prison time for the conviction, the document stated. The working group decided that previous instances where Jabarin was in detention but hadn’t been tried were “arbitrary.”
Moreover, Jabarin was described in an Israeli court ruling, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, as someone who “apparently operates under the guise of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
“On one hand he presents himself as a director of a human rights organization, and on the other, he is active in a terrorist organization that commits murder and attempted murder,” the ruling stated. “His lifestyle has nothing to do with human rights, on the contrary, he actively denies the most fundamental right of all, without which there are no other rights – the right to life.”
Visa, Mastercard and American Express all stopped processing credit card donations for Jabarin’s organization, according to a 2018 UKLFI report. The credit card companies did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
Neither Open Society Foundations nor Al-Haq responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Al-Mezan Center For Human Rights
Open Society Foundations, through its Foundation to Promote Open Society, gave a three-year $600,000 grant in 2019 to Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. An Al-Mezan leader participated in an event with at least one terrorist organization and the organization’s board chairman, who has served in his role at least until January, has alleged ties to the PFLP.
Al-Mezan’s website says the organization is focused on supporting victims of human rights abuses. The group is based in Gaza.
Dr. Kamal Al-Sharafi, who served as Al-Mezan’s board chairman until at least January, has posted pictures with alleged PFLP members, according to screenshots posted by NGO Monitor. Al-Sharafi posted a picture in 2019 at the memorial service of Ali Darwish. The PFLP mourned Darwish’s death, calling him a “front-line fighter.”
The Independent Commission for Human Rights held a meeting in 2016 that included Al-Mezan Director Issam Younis and representatives of Hamas and other groups, according to the commission’s website.
Younis rejected the “politically-motivated allegations, which are intended to harm our work and fundraising,” telling the DCNF that “Al Mezan is a respected human rights organization.”
Younis referenced a 2020 press release, which stated that the Dutch government rejected NGO Monitor’s assertions. “With that, the Dutch government effectively dismissed and debunked NGO Monitor’s standard tactic of associating Palestinian NGOs with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is on the EU’s sanctions list,” the Al-Mezan press release said. The statement noted that the Dutch government is a “long-time donor” to Al-Mezan.
The press release accused NGO Monitor of spreading falsities about Al-Mezan and referring to the wrong people when alleging the organization’s ties to the PFLP.
Younis also pointed to a 2018 report by the Policy Working Group that accused NGO Monitor of “defaming human rights organizations that criticize the Israeli occupation,” citing its alleged close relationship with the Israeli government.
“NGO Monitor uses the listing of the PFLP as a terrorist organization to accuse anyone who politically identifies with the PFLP of involvement with terrorism,” the report stated. “It does not differentiate between the militant arm of the PFLP and the group’s political wing. The latter participated in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections – with Israel’s knowledge and consent.”
NGO Monitor declined to respond to Al-Mezan’s allegations.
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