Last month, the Europal Forum (EPF) announced an event launching the publication of its new report titled “The Israel Lobby and the European Union”, co-sponsored by Spinwatch, a “public interest” organization with a history of anti-Israeli activism. According to the announcement:
The influence of the Israel lobby in the US is well known; most presidential hopefuls have competed with each other in recent weeks to see who can curry the most favour with this powerful lobby. By contrast, there has been little scrutiny of the pro-Israel network in the European Union capital, Brussels, despite its considerable growth over the past decade. A new report, The Israel Lobby and the European Union, challenges the secrecy surrounding this network. It identifies where pro-Israel groups receive their funding and how some of their donors have facilitated Israel’s illegal colonisation of the West Bank. It examines how the lobby has persuaded law-makers to refrain from sanctioning Israel over its human rights abuses. And it analyses how Israel’s supporters have been trying to undermine grassroots campaigning for justice in Palestine. Importantly, The Israel Lobby and the European Union uncovers the transatlantic character of the Israel lobby, with most of the newly launched pro-Israel groups in Brussels having financial and/or organisational links with some of the most right wing and Islamophobic elements of the more established lobby in the US.
WHEN: Monday, 9 May 2016 from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
WHERE: Conference Room at Mundo-b – Rue d’Edimbourg 26, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Public Interest Investigations gratefully acknowledges financial and in-kind support from EuroPal Forum. This report was also made possible by funding from Friends of Al Aqsa and Islam Expo as well as drawing on more general fundraising.
Friends of Al-Aqsa is a pro-Hamas organization based in Leicester which advocates Israel’s elimination and which frequently acts in coalitions with the UK Muslim Brotherhood. IslamExpo was an event strongly associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood and was supported by organizations such as the British Muslim Initiative, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Although the corporate registration for Islam Expo Ltd lapsed in December 2015, the last know officers were:
- Anas Altikriti (leader of the UK Muslim Brotherhood)
- Mohammad Kathem Sawalha (Hamas activist and leader in the UK Muslim Brotherhood)
- Azzam Tamimi (Hamas spokesman and leader in the UK Muslim Brotherhood)
In November 2010, we reported that Islam Expo funding was behind another report issued by the European Muslim Research Center at the University of Exeter in the UK, an organization. launched with funds provided by the UK Muslim Brotherhood.
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 non-profit organisation concerned with European-Palestinian affairs”. However, EPF leaders are closely tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and the 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 also 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. According to video of the report launch, an individual identifying herself only as Ragad announced that she was also “part of the team at Europal Forum.” The conference agenda handed out at the meeting further identifies Ragad as Ragad Osama and photographs taken at the event confirm that she is Ragad Osama Altikriti, known to be the sister of Anas Altikriti, one of the most important leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.
It is possible that the EuroPal Forum is meant to replace the Council for European Palestinian Relations which 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 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 January 2016, the GMBDW reported that the EPF had announced a “training course in Lobbying and Advocacy” to have been held in Rotterdam that month.
The EPF report identifies Spinwatch co-author Sarah Marusek only as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg but in reality, Ms. Marusek is an activist with a long history of involvement with radical Palestinian causes who denies Israel’s very right to exist. As she said in a 2013 interview for Islam Times:
I think the Jewish state of Israel is inherently not legitimate, because it is founded on land that was shared among Muslims, Christians and Jews. The state of Israel violently imposed itself on this land and these peoples – Palestine, an already existing reality that has not gone away and which will never go away. Indeed Palestinians will always resist against the Jewish State of Israel because it is a racist apartheid state, and it is against international law. One day this land will return to a place where Muslims, Christians and Jews can all live together in equality and harmony.
In June 2013, the electronicintifada.net website identified Sarah Marusek as:
…a Global March to Jerusalem international committee member and spokesperson from Brooklyn, New York, who also arrived in Gaza with Miles of Smiles 2.
while a site that monitored the Global March further identified her as the US delegate to the GMJ (her last updates to her personal blog consist of a statement from the GMJ-International Executive Committee). As we reported in 2012, the GMJ, which turned out to be an abject failure, was organized in Europe by a committee comprised of members of UK Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Free Gaza movement. Other information about Ms. Marusek is reported by the GMJ monitoring site:
Currently living in Lebanon, (and having previously lived in Iran) Marusek is a board member of the ‘Palestine Civil Rights Campaign – Lebanon’ and active with the ‘Right to Return Committee in Lebanon‘. According to the GMJ website, she also works with ‘Viva Palestina Arabia’, which of course is the organizer of the ‘Summer University of Palestine’ held annually in Lebanon. Marusek also appears to have connections with the [International Solidarity Movement] having issued a press release on its behalf together with Amith Gupta who runs the Bard College (NY) branch of the ISM and is also involved with the North American chapter of GMJ.
According to the website of Spinwatch itself, an organization that says it carries out “public interest investigations”, the organization has received funding from the following organizations tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas:
- Islam Expo (see above)
- Interpal (designated by the US as a terrorist organization for the funding of Hamas)
- Middle East Monitor (Islamist publication close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas)
In July 2015, we reported on an an Op-ed piece called “The case against the Palestinian Return Centre in London” based on a Spinwatch report authored co-authored by Sarah Marusek. As reported in that post:
What is clear is that the Spinwatch report that was the basis of the article conspicuously chose to ignore the many very real links between the PRC and Hamas as well as the Global Muslim Brotherhood that are identified in our GMBDW Wiki entry on the organization.