The Washington Post and Foreign Policy Magazine Provide Cover for Terror-Linked NGOs

The Washington Post and Foreign Policy Magazine are providing cover for non-profit organizations that have been linked to terrorist groups.

On Oct. 22, 2021, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Jerusalem was designating six Palestinian nongovernmental organizations as terrorist organizations. Gantz asserted that the NGOs in question — Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees — have been “active under the cover of civil-society organizations, but in practice belong to and constitute an arm of ‘the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).'” The United States, the European Union, and Israel, among others, have designated the PFLP as a terrorist organization.

The organizations designated comprise less than two percent of the NGOs operating in Israel. And their ties to terrorist groups are a matter of public record. But the Washington Post and Foreign Policy Magazine portrayed the announcement as a blanket assault by Israel on “human rights organizations.”

Take, for example, the Post’s Oct. 23, 2021 dispatch.

Editorializing, reporter Amy Cheng said that “Israel designated six leading Palestinian rights organizations as terrorist groups…in the latest blow to activists who say space for dissent in the occupied territories has steadily shrunk amid intimidation by Israeli and Palestinian authorities alike.” Later, she stated: “Israel’s Defense Ministry accused the groups of being controlled by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist-Leninist movement with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks on civilians.”

But the PFLP is not merely a “Marxist-Leninist movement with an armed wing.” Rather, as CAMERA noted in an Oct. 29, 2021 Washington Examiner op-ed, the PFLP is—indisputably—a terrorist organization. It is widely regarded as such by numerous governments. The idea that there is a separate “armed wing” is a fiction. The U.S. State Department, for example, makes no such distinction.

Cheng tells readers “The PFLP does not recognize the existence of Israel.” How innocuous! In fact, the PFLP calls for Israel’s destruction—a fact that a Google search would have turned up. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), for example, has translated an interview with then-PFLP head Abu Ali Mustafa, who told Al-Jazeera that the destruction of Israel is the “position of the PFLP.” Mustafa added: “the political platform of the PFLP speaks in the clearest way about the strategic goal of the Palestinian people’s struggle and about the use of all means, including armed violence.”

And Cheng’s phrasing of “deadly attacks on civilians” hardly suffices as a description. In 2011, PFLP affiliates snuck into the home of an Israeli family, the Fogels, and murdered three children and their parents. The youngest victim, a three-month-old infant named Hadas, was decapitated. In 2019, a 17-year-old Israeli girl named Rina Shnerb was murdered by a roadside bomb while hiking with her father. The bomb was planted by a PFLP cell whose commander was Samer Arbid, an accountant for UAWC—one of the organizations recently designated by Israel.

As the Jerusalem Post reported, UAWC’s finance and administration director, Abdul Razeq Farraj, “was indicted in October 2019 on four counts, including aiding an attempt to death” in a terrorist attack and “holding a position in a terrorist organization.” Another UAWC employee, Ubai Aboudi, was sentenced to a year in prison in June 2020 and was responsible for recruiting for terrorist attacks.

And, as the Dutch foreign ministry admitted to parliament in July 2020, “the Netherlands paid part of the salaries of terrorists involved in killing Shnerb.”

NGO Monitor, an organization that promotes accountability for nonprofit organizations, has assiduously documented links between certain NGOs and terrorist groups. And NGO Monitor’s research makes it clear that UAWC is far from alone .

An Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs report titled “Terrorists in Suits” has documented these links. The report notes that “Hamas and PFLP operatives have infiltrated and adopted seemingly benign NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, Europe, North America and South Africa, for the purpose of advancing their ideological goal: the elimination of the State of Israel.” Further, “it appears that terrorist organizations view NGOs in the West as a convenient means for raising funds.”

As CAMERA noted in the Washington Examiner in 2018, the secretary of DCI-P’s board, Fatima Daana, is the widow of the commander of the PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades. One DCI-P employee, Hashem Abu Maria, was celebrated by the PFLP as a “commander” of the terrorist group after his 2014 death.

Then there are the other organizations:

On July 26, 2020, NGO Monitor published video evidence showing that on May 14, 2019, the PFLP organized a memorial in Ramallah. “The hall,” NGO Monitor noted, “was decorated with PFLP paraphernalia.” An the memorial’s focus “centered on PFLP political bureau member Rabah Muhanna, who, according to information posted by the PFLP, ‘contributed to the establishment’ of several PFLP-affiliated NGOs, including the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and Addameer.”

Al-Haq’s Director General, Shawan Jabarin, was called an “activist” for the PFLP by the Israeli high court in 2007. Khitam Saafin, the president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, was arrested by Israeli security forces in 2017. In a July 2017 statement, the PFLP confirmed the arrest of “a number of leaders and activists of the Front, led by the Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar, feminist activist Khitam Saafin and former prisoner Ihab Massoud, as well as a number of activists in al-Khalil.” Elsewhere, NGO Monitor notes, the PFLP has referred to Saafin as a “comrade.”

Adameer’s former vice chair, Khalida Jarrar, headed the PFLP in the West Bank. The Post itself has noted her history. On July 23, 2018, the newspaper published a letter to the editor from NGO Monitor head Gerald Steinberg, which highlighted that Jarrar “was indicted for various offenses, including active membership in a terrorist organization (the PFLP) and inciting violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers.”

In sum: the links between these NGOs and a U.S.-designated terrorist group are clear. They are a matter of record. Yet, the Post didn’t mention any of this abundance of evidence in its 526-word report—despite the fact that all of it was in the public domain at the time its story was filed.

Cheng even inaccurately claimed that the Israeli government “did not provide evidence” for the designations and claims that the NGOs received “major sums of money” from European countries. As noted above, this evidence has long been in the public domain—one just has to be interested in looking for it.

Cheng even treated Palestinian Authority official Riad al-Maliki as a credible source, quoting his protestations that the designations were a “ ‘strategic assault’ on Palestinian civil society.” Yet, as Palestinian Media Watch, an organization that translates Palestinian media has documented: Maliki has previously defended paying terrorists, indulged in antisemitic blood libels, and called for a “religious war” against Israel.

As for the “activists” who Cheng depicts as upset with the designations, Yousef Munnayer is a good representation. On Oct. 30, 2021, the Post published an op-ed by Munnayer entitled “Israel escalates its attacks on defenders of Palestinian human rights, wherever they may be.” Interestingly, Munnayer seems to equate being a PFLP operative with being a “defender of Palestinian human rights.” Unsurprisingly, like Cheng, he completely omits the documented ties between the six NGOs and terrorist organizations. Munnayer has a long history of not only bashing Israel, but propagating antisemitic conspiracy theories.

As CAMERA documented, Munnayer used the Oct. 2, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas to attack Israel. Seeking to link the Jewish state to a massacre in the United States is a great example of the antisemitism that is part and parcel of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that Munnayer advocates for.

Nor was the Post the only major news outlet to conflate terrorist-linked NGOs with “human rights.” Foreign Policy Magazine’s Oct. 28, 2021 report, “Will Biden Push Back After Israel Labeled Rights Group’s Terrorists,” repeats the same mistakes made in Cheng’s dispatch. FP reporter Colm Quinn fails to inform the magazine’s readership about the documented links between the PFLP and the six NGOs in question. And, like Cheng he prefers to editorialize and cite anti-Israel sources as gospel.

That leading publications prefer to hide links between terrorist groups and anti-Israel NGOs isn’t surprising. It is, however, quite revealing. It says much about the faux “human rights” organizations that pretend to care about Palestinians, as well as the media that pretends to care about hard-hitting reporting. In modern-day journalism, ethics and accountability are dying—not in darkness, but before our very eyes.