European Hamas Support Group Announces Lobbying And Advocacy Course In Rotterdam

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The EuroPal Forum (EPF) has announced a “training course in Lobbying and Advocacy” to have been held in Rotterdam on January 10. According to the announcement:

January 10, 2015 EuroPal Forum is pleased to announce a training course in Lobbying and Advocacy which will take place in Rotterdam city on Sunday 10th January 2016.

The training day is designed to encourage and assist pro-Palestine activists who wish to become politically active on Palestine.

Trainees will gain a thorough knowledge of the Dutch systems of governance, political thought, and activism in relation to Palestine, an analysis of Dutch based pro-Palestine NGOs and their role in mobilising support for Palestine. In addition to the role of media in mobilising support for Palestine.

Training Outline:

– International dimensions of the Palestinian issue and the importance of advocacy in Europe. (Lecture) – Understanding the Dutch political system, including the Dutch Parliament, government and mapping out the Dutch political parties in relation to Palestine. (Training session) – The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in mobilising support for Palestine and mapping out the pro-Palestine NGOs in the Netherlands. (Training session) – The role of media in mobilising support for Palestine. (Training session)

The EPF also announced that the first speaker in the course would be Zaher Birawi, the EPF chairman who would be giving a lecture on “International dimensions of the Palestinian issue and the importance of advocacy in Europe.”

The GMBDW first reported on the EPF (also referred to as the European Palestinian Communications Forum in November 2014 when the group co-organized a conference in Paris centered on the boycott of Israeli products. On its Facebook page, the EPF describes itself as “an independent European-wide organisation based in London working to achieve a positive and accurate public opinion on Palestine”. However both EPF leaders are closely tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support infrastructure. EPF Chairman Zaher Birawi was identified in an Al Jazeera report as the coordinator of the International Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG), a part of the Gaza flotilla movement and known to be headed by Mohammad Sawalha, a former Hamas commander and a leader in the UK Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Birawi is the long time media and public relations spokesperson for the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) , a part of the UK Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support infrastructure and also a director of the Palestine Return Centere (PRC) which has also strong ties to Hamas and to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. In July 2012, we reported on a meeting with Hamas leaders that included Mr. Birawi. 

Another recent Arabic media report (no longer available) identified Mazen Kahel as the director of the EPF and who praised the recent decision by Sweden to recognize a Palestinian state. Mazen Kahel is originally from Gaza and holds a PhD in business management. Kahel is also known to have been the Treasurer of the Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), the French member of the Union of Good (UOG) headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and which was designated by the US in 2003 as a terrorist entity in connection with Hamas fundraising. CBSP is also considered to be a partner entity of the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), the Swiss UOG organization also designated by the US.

It is possible that the EuroPal Forum is meant to replace the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) where Mazen Kahel served as a member of the board. The CEPR also represented itself as an independent organization but in fact served as a pro-Hamas lobbying group at the EU level. A post from June 2014 reported that Dr. Arafat Madi Shoukri, the former head of both the ECESG and CEPR, had moved from Britain to Qatar, where Arabic media reported he now serves as director of international relations and communications of the Al-Jazeera Network. The CEPR website is currently inactive and the organization appears to be  largely defunct.

In November 2015, the EPF announced that it had organized a meeting together with the Islamist Middle East Monitor in which UK Palestinian leaders met with British MP’s described as having had a “prominent role in the historical decision that voted for a motion urging the British Government to recognise the state of Palestine.” According to the announcement, the event included:

  • Grahame Morris MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East,
  • Richard Burden MP, Vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East
  • Martin Linton, former Labour Party MP
  • Baroness Jenny Tonge, member of the House of Lords and longtime ally of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK

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