TEL AVIV – A campaign launched by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is lobbying members of Congress to end the Israeli “occupation.”
Called “The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation,” the initiative is a national coalition of the BDS movement. The campaign has been condemned by pro-Israel advocates, who view it as “a flagrant escalation in anti-Israel efforts in the United States,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
So far, it is not known whether campaign leaders have managed to meet with congressional politicians.
A briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by the group was canceled last month after several media outlets pointed out the group’s hostility towards Israel.
On Friday, the group will hold a three-day conference in Arlington, Virginia called “Which Side Are You On? Taking a Stand for Palestinian Rights.”
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said the organization “calls for Israel’s destruction as a Jewish state. Rather than opposing particular Israeli policies, it opposes Israel’s very existence and rejects a two-state solution.”
The JCPA further claimed that the campaign’s co-founder, Anna Baltzer, has in the past argued against Israel’s existence:
“I recognized that the problem was not simply occupation, but rather the creation and maintenance of an ethno-nationalist Jewish entity. … I realized occupation was just one step in a much longer process, and I couldn’t simply oppose one and not the other,” she said in an interview with the Virtual Mosque website in 2009.
The JCPA went on to state that the campaign’s leaders “support [and in some cases have ties to] designated terrorist organizations and have a track record of violence and incitement.”
Baltzer has in the past expressed support for the terrorist activities of Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigades – a group responsible for suicide bombings during the Second Intifada and “one of the most violent Palestinian armed groups, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, EU, and Canada,” JCPA noted.
In the past, questions have been raised about the veracity of Baltzer’s identity. Referring to herself as a “Jewish-American Columbia graduate, former-Fulbright scholar, the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, lecturer, author, and activist for Palestinian rights,” the campaign’s Director of Organizing claims to have had an epiphany after going on a Birthright Israel trip during which she was “indoctrinated” with pro-Israel views.
However, Lee Kaplan of the Gatestone Institute performed a background check in 2013 and couldn’t verify any of her claims:
According to my research, Anna Baltzer never went on a Birthright tour of Israel in the year 2000 or any other time. Inquiries to the New York and Israel offices to ascertain if she went with Birthright revealed absolutely no record of any Anna Baltzer attending the program ever, let alone in year 2000. In short, it seems that Anna Baltzer lied about her participation in Birthright to convey the false impression that she was once a loyal Jew who supported the Jewish homeland but had discovered the justification for Palestinians’ goals to overthrow Israel.
Further, after researching Ms. Baltzer’s claims of being a Fulbright Scholar from Columbia in 2003, it has been determined from both Columbia’s and the Fulbright websites, as well as Fulbright officials, that Anna Baltzer was never a Fulbright scholar either.
It later emerged that Baltzer may have used her original name, Piller, on her Birthright trip (Baltzer being a made-up Jewish-sounding last name). But neither Piller nor Baltzer were listed as Fulbright scholars at any time from 1990 onwards. Further, her grandparents were never in Nazi concentration camps in Poland.