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  • Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 8:58 AM
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ICCO and Electronic Intifada – funding extremism

By Missing Peace
Still from Electronic Intifada BDS website Still from Electronic Intifada BDS website


Download the rapport in Microsoft Word format here.

This report contains information about Electronic Intifada and its director Ali Abunimah.

The file furthermore provides information about ICCO and statements from ICCO about Electronic Intifada and other subjects such as the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

The report was written in order to contribute to the current debate about the funding of this US based news site by Dutch NGO, ICCO.


Until now much has been written and said about the BDS aspect. However, this report will prove that ICCO in fact funds political extremism and the promotion of Islamism.

also misrepresented its own involvement in the BDS campaign against Israel.

The ICCO’s support for a news site like Electronic Intifada clearly contradicts some of ICCO’s own stated goals about peace and human rights and international law.

For example, Electronic Intifada rejects the two state solution.

In addition, the director of Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah, not only calls for boycott against Israel, but also whitewashes Hamas and Hezbollah’s terrorism and their calls for the annihilation of Israel.

This report contains evidence of his extremist positions and incitement.

In a recent column ICCO director Martinus Verwey misrepresented ICCO’s involvement in the BDS campaign. He claimed that ICCO did not join the call for BDS against Israel.

However the 2009 annual report of the organization clearly states the following:

‘ICCO and 170 other organizations – among them Palestinian NGO’s, unions and grassroots organizations- have called for boycott, sanctions and divestment’ (page 69 ICCO annual report 2009).

The current director of Electronic Intifada wrote an article for E.I. in which he delivered a clear plea for Hamas and Hezbollah and for Islamism in general. He also claims that Hamas has moderated and plays down the suicide attacks against Israel.

At a recent conference about BDS, Abunimah – who was the keynote speaker- again defended Hamas and spoke out against the two state solution.

Abunimah’s extremism
Below are some quotes from a speech by Abunimah during a conference about BDS at Hampshire College in 2009. These quotes are juxtaposed to statements made by Hamas leaders in 2010.

Those statements appear in orange and are taken from a study by JCPA analyst Jonathan HaLevy. http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=379&PID=1861&IID=5576

Other statements are from Hamas PM Ishmael Haniyeh and Mahmoud Al Zahhar and were recorded on video in December 2010.

Extremist comments
During the conference at Hampshire College Abunimah made the following comments:


“The two state solution is nothing more than a last ditch plan to save Zionism”.
In a part where he was asked about his position on Hamas he said:

“Hamas supports the two state solution. Now that is one of the
things I disagree on with them now”.
(Abunimah is a proponent of the one
state solution and the so called “right of return” for all Palestinian

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxUYMoxG2-Q&NR=1  the part about Hamas starts after 6.30 minutes.

In an interview with the newspaper al-Hayat on November 11, 2010, Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, was asked
whether Hamas was acting to establish an Islamic emirate in Gaza. He responded:

“We view Gaza as part of historic Palestinian territory….We retain our
Islamic, Arab and Palestinian faith that Palestine will be returned to its
inhabitants and Zionist existence will conclude. The meaning of a Palestinian
state is that there will be one unified Islamic Palestinian state, and not an
Islamic emirate, from the sea to the river, that will unite the Palestinians.
The Jews will have no right there, save for those who lived on Palestinian land
prior to the First World War” (meaning that only Jews above the age of 96
will be permitted to live in Islamic Palestine).8

Hamas PM
Ismail Haniya: The Occupation Has No Future on the Land of Palestine – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River
Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar) – December 15, 2010 – 01:51


Asked what he thinks about the children’s educational program on TV in which Hamas
openly calls of for the annihilation of the Jews, he said: “Hamas does not
call for a massacre of the Jews”

Mohammed Def, head of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, wrote:

“The al-Qassam Brigades…are better prepared to continue on our exclusive path to which there
is no alternative, and that is the path of jihad and the fight against the
enemies of the Muslim nation and mankind….We say to our enemies: you are
going on the path to extinction (zawal), and Palestine will remain ours including Al-Quds (Jerusalem), Al-Aqsa (mosque), its towns and villages from the (Mediterranean) Sea to the (Jordan) River, from its North to
its South. You have no right to even an inch of it.5

Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar Justifies Persecution of Jews in History and Promises and Declares That Jews “Are Headed to Annihilation.” Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas/Gaza) – November 5, 2010 – 05:21


About the concept of Israel being a safe haven for the Jews, Abunimah said:

“The Jews (in Israel) who feel the safest are the ones having a second passport”.

Plea for Hamas and Hizbollah on E.I. site
Below is a complete article by Abunimah that appeared at the Electronic Intifada site in 2007. In the article he delivers a clear plea for Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamism in general. He also claims that Hamas has moderated and plays down the use of suicide attacks against Israel.

In another part of the article he claims that Hamas’ ideology about women has changed and brags about the achievements of the Islamist women’s movement.

This however, totally contradicts the reports about abuse of women rights coming out of Gaza.

For example, in 2010 150 women were arrested for so called “witchcraft”. One of them was shot dead in a street in central Gaza.


Palestinian Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh also reported about Hamas’ abuse of women rights.


Engaging Hamas and Hezbollah
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 29 October 2007


Nothing could be easier in the present atmosphere than to accuse anyone who calls for recognition of and dialogue with Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist movements of being closet supporters of reactionary “extremism” or naive fellow travelers of “terrorists.” This tactic is not surprising coming from neoconservatives and Zionists. What is novel is to see it expressed in supposedly progressive quarters.

Arun Kundnani has written about a “new breed of liberal” whose outlook “regards Muslims as uniquely problematic and in need of forceful integration into what it views as the inherently superior values of the West.” The target of these former leftists, Kundnani argues, “is not so much Islamism as the appeasing attitudes they detect among [other] liberals.” [1]

Such views are now creeping into the Palestinian solidarity movement. MADRE, an “international women’s human rights organization,” presents one example. In the wake of the Hamas election victory and takeover of Gaza from US- and Israeli-backed Fatah warlords, MADRE declared that the challenge for Palestine solidarity activists is “how do we support the people of Palestine
without endorsing the Hamas leadership?” Calling for what it terms “strategic solidarity” as opposed to “reflexive
solidarity,” MADRE defines Hamas as a “repressive” movement “driven by militarism and nationalism,” which “aims to
institutionalize reactionary ideas about gender and sexuality,” while using “religion as a smokescreen to pursue its agenda.” [2] Similarly strident and dismissive claims have been made by a Washington-based
pro-Palestinian advocacy group. [3]

Some of these attitudes may arise from confusion, but there may also be an
effort to scare us off from attempting to understand Hamas in Palestine and
Hizballah in Lebanon outside any paradigm except a “clash of
civilizations” that pits allegedly universal and superior Western liberal
values against what is represented as medieval oriental barbarity.

It is essential to note that the Islamist movements under consideration,
although they may identify themselves as being part of the umma (the
global community of Muslims) are heterogeneous; each emerged in a particular
context. Their ideologies and positions are moving targets — changing over
time as a result of fierce and ongoing internal debates and their encounters
with external influences. These points may seem obvious as they apply to an analysis
of any social or political movement, but they have to be restated here because
of the constant effort to portray all Islamist movements as being, inflexible,
rooted in unchanging and ancient views of the world, and indistinguishable from
the most exotic, marginal and unrepresentative “jihadi” groups.

Hamas and Hezbollah emerged in the context of brutal Israeli invasions and
military occupations. Their popular support and legitimacy have increased as
they demonstrated their ability to present a credible veto on the unrestrained
exercise of Israeli power where state actors, international bodies, the peace
process industry and secular nationalist resistance movements notably failed.

As their influence has grown, both movements have steadily tempered their
universalist Islamist rhetoric
and adopted the language and imagery of
classical national liberation struggles albeit with an Islamist identity. A
political path that was pioneered by Hezbollah of recasting its Islamist
identity and goals within the constraints imposed by pluralist national
politics is now being trodden by Hamas. [4]

Contrary to the oft-repeated claim that Hamas inflexibly seeks the complete
conquest of Palestine and the expulsion of all Jews (aka “the destruction
of Israel”); the movement has moved over time to explicitly endorse a
generation-long truce with Israel and unspecified future political arrangements
that will be the outcome of negotiations. [5] Hamas leaders have been able to
justify this shift within the Islamist concept of a hudna, but have also
explicitly modeled their approach on that of other modern national liberation
movements in Ireland, South Africa and Vietnam. [6]

The much condemned use of violence by Hamas and Hezbollah — particularly
suicide bombings — had more in common with other nationalist movements facing
foreign occupation, than deriving from any “Islamist” ideology
as University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape demonstrated in his
book Dying to Win. Hezbollah has focused its military strategy on
countering Israeli military might, retaliating against Israeli civilian areas
only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians (as we saw in the
July 2006 war). Hamas unilaterally suspended its notorious campaign of
suicide attacks on Israeli civilians more than two years ago, again following
the pattern of other groups like the IRA that sought to enter a political
Hamas maintains this suspension despite escalating Israeli attacks
and collective punishment against Palestinian civilians.

Both movements are renowned for providing access to health, housing, jobs
and income to the poorest segments of the communities from which they draw
Anti-Islamist liberals understand this appeal, which is why a few
have supported the US, Israeli and EU sanctions against Hamas in Gaza to
prevent it from providing for its people, while boosting support for Mahmoud
Abbas’ Ramallah regime in the hope that it can buy back support and

Yet the trump card of anti-Islamist liberals remains the claim that Islamist
movements like Hamas are uniquely oppressive to women, sticking to rigid
ideologies which prescribe for them a subordinate role. Here their positions,
if not their prescriptions, coincide with that of the Bush administration which
cynically claimed that its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq with all their
catastrophic consequences were partly motivated out of a fervor to
“free” the women of the region. (Ironically, as journalist Susan
Faludi has noted, these claims were made while the “War on Terror”
was simultaneously used by American conservatives as a cover to reassert a more
virulent patriarchy at home). [7]

The claim that Hamas should be opposed (while “strategic solidarity”
should presumably be extended to other Palestinian factions more amenable to a
so-called Western agenda) is based on a caricature of the movement’s changing
gender ideologies and practices and ignores the achievements of the Islamist
women’s movement in Palestine.

Spectacular examples of the courageous and radical role Islamist women have
played came last year when mass nonviolent actions by Palestinian women
prevented Israeli air raids and extrajudicial executions in Gaza. [8] But this
is only the visible tip of the iceberg.

As the work of Birzeit University professor Islah Jad has demonstrated, the
Islamist women’s movement has played a major role in transforming Hamas’
ideology about women
, placing its demands at the center of internal
debates, and in mobilizing women within Hamas and in society at large to play
greater political and economic roles (sixty percent of students at Gaza’s
Islamic University, for example, are female).

Islamist women have challenged Western feminist discourses that they deemed
irrelevant to their circumstances and needs. They have contended with
contradictions in Islamist thinking about the role of women that mirrored the
unresolved contradictions that had long plagued the declining secular
nationalist movement. At the same time, these Islamist women activists engaged
positively with many of the claims made by secular feminists, incorporating
them into an ever-changing Islamist nationalist discourse. [9]

Islamist women have emerged as an important factor in Palestinian political
life partly as a result of the demobilization of the secular nationalist
women’s movement as it became depoliticized, “NGOized,”
professionalized, and detached from its grassroots. [10]

“There are traditions here that say that a woman should take a secondary
role — that she should be at the back,” said Jamila Shanti, one of Hamas’
elected female members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, “But that
is not Islam.” Speaking after the January 2006 election, but before the
EU, US and Israeli effort to destroy the Hamas government took hold, Shanti
added, “Hamas will scrap many of these traditions. You will find women
going out and participating.” [11] Thus, the work of Islamist women,
especially within Hamas, deserves to recognized, respected and engaged, not
rendered invisible.

This is where we have to look beyond caricatures and consider that for many of
their adherents Islamist movements are attractive because they offer the hope
of alternative forms of social organization that put the human being and the
community, rather than the market and the consumer at the center of life.

In poor countries, neoliberal capitalism, extolled by Western aid donors and
their organs such as the IMF and the World Bank as being the corollary of
democracy, has meant in practice unaccountable oligarchy, the demolition of social
welfare systems, public education, subsidies for basic necessities, and the
flourishing of crony privatization on an epic scale. In many places, Islamist
movements have attempted to fill the void.

Hamas’ changing views on a long-term truce with Israel, on forms of resistance,
and the role of women in society are examples of how an Islamist movement —
like any other social movement — responds to the real circumstances of the
society of which it is part.

The dialogues that once instransigent colonial rulers and their foreign backers
opened with the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, and Sinn Fein
and the IRA in Northern Ireland — that led eventually to peaceful
transformations of those societies — are the appropriate model for how to engage
with movements like Hamas and Hizballah today. Some argue that these cases
offer no precedent because Irish nationalists and the ANC were always part of a
unifying Christian, Western tradition. That is how they may be viewed in
hindsight, but like Islamists, they too were once the objects of a dehumanizing
civilizational discourse that cast them as irredeemably inferior, alien and
beyond inclusion, thus justifying colonial control.

And like the leaders of those movements before, Hamas and Hezbollah have
been reaching out, attempting to craft messages that can begin to close the
seemingly unbridgeable gaps, paying careful attention to their own
constituencies as well as their potential interlocutors.
In Hamas’ case
these invitations came in a remarkable series of op-eds by its leaders
published in English-language newspapers since January 2006 including The
Washington Post
, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times
and The Guardian. [12] European and American governments have responded
that any dialogue must be conditioned on Hamas first accepting all of Israel’s
demands, while Israel continues to have a free hand.

Israel and its backers routinely dismiss Hamas’ overtures as insincere. They
wave about the 1988 Hamas Charter — which as current scholarship shows has
little relevance or influence on actual Hamas policies and thinking — as an
excuse never to talk. Israel’s propagandists used the same tactic for years
with the PLO Charter (or “covenant” as they insisted on calling it).
The increasing influence of mainstream Islamists also terrifies the existing
establishments in the Palestinian Authority and other Arab states, who in
desperation to preserve their power, have joined the chorus of fear-mongering
and repression and some have forged more or less open alliances with Israel.
When broader conflict looms, fueled by the ideology of the clash of
civilizations, and the American president drops casual, smirking references to
World War III, a new approach is urgently needed. The European governments,
for example, that speak to Hamas in secret, but collude with the brutal
sanctions against Gaza, out of fear of the United States, should break with
their harmful and misguided policies. They should openly defy Washington and
Tel Aviv and engage with Islamist movements in Lebanon and Palestine and more
broadly, on equal terms.

Since this change is unlikely in the short term, and the dangers are great, it
is the role of progressives to support anti-colonial liberation movements
without imposing their own agendas, to push for equal dialogue, to listen
carefully to what Islamist movements are saying, and to expose and resist the
efforts to demonize and dehumanize entire societies in preparation for new

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal
to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
(Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Information about ICCO
Excerpt from an article on the Dutch website in which ICCO
defends the funding of Electronic Intifada:

“It is the opinion of ICCO that this organization (Electronic
Intifada) contributes to the balancing of opinion-making of the international
public. That is why it has been decided to engage in a three year long term
financing instead of short term funding”. (Of E.I.)

As is clear from the information in this report Electronic
Intifada only contributes to the polarization of opinions in the international
arena and promotes extremism.

This in turn, totally contradicts the following statement
made by ICCO following the meeting with Dutch foreign minister Rosenthal ICCO:

stands for human rights and international law in all its countries of
intervention whether it concerns Sudan, Congo, Guatemala or the Middle East.
ICCO therefore calls on both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities to respect
human rights. ICCO aspires, together with its Palestinian and Israeli
partners for a sustainable and just peace for everyone: Palestinians as
well as Israelis’.

The list of recommended articles on ICCO’s Dutch website reveals
more about the organization’s idea about peace making and evenhandedness. It
includes articles accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing in 1948 and of Apartheid.


a recent column on the ICCO website, director Marinus Verwey lied about the
organization’s role in the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against

did not sign up to the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions but actively
encourages companies to divest from the occupation and to boycott products from
settlements”. http://www.icco.nl/nl/actueel/column-marinus-verweij/241/onrecht-bestrijden-ook-in-israel-en-palestijnse-gebieden

ICCO really not join the call for boycott divestment and sanctions??

ICCO annual report says something entirely different. On page 68 it is reported
that ICCO was one of the organizations that called for BDS.

‘ICCO and 170
other organizations – among them Palestinian NGO’s, unions and grassroots
organizations- have called for boycott, sanctions and divestment’.

conclusion must be that ICCO is funding an extremist news organization,
contradicts its own statements about achieving peace in Israel and did not tell
the truth about its own involvement in the BDS campaign against Israel.

ICCO Sponsored

Below is a
breakdown of ICCO sponsored projects. In some cases a NGO monitor analysis is
added. The overwhelming majority of these projects are dealing with Palestinian
human- and political rights only.



















UCP United
Civilians for Peace


AIC Alternative
Information Centre


JAI Joint Advocacy


EAPPI Ecumenical
Accompaniment Programme



SDCSocial Development Committee


Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations


Health Work Committees






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