Activists organizing pro-Palestinian protests across the United States in the wake of the Hamas attacks against Israel share various deep affiliations with designated terrorist factions, all while quietly receiving checks from anonymous sources, records show.
The streets of Washington, D.C., were flooded Saturday with tens of thousands of activists demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and for the U.S. to choke off aid to Israel, where more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers have been killed by Islamic terrorists since Oct. 7, the deadliest attack against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Groups behind the increasing number of anti-Israel protests and the recent one in the nation’s capital that spurred vandalism maintain particularly opaque dark money funding structures and have also faced scrutiny over the years for their ties to terror, a Washington Examiner investigation found.
‘A national security issue’
“It’s a huge problem,” Anne Herzberg, legal adviser to the Israeli watchdog group NGO Monitor, said. “That these groups have such shadowy financing is something the U.S. government really needs to investigate. It’s definitely a national security issue.”
The protest in Washington resulted in at least one arrest over destruction of property, though the Metropolitan Police Department is investigating other “acts of vandalism that damaged the McPherson Square Metro Station and several police vehicles,” it said Saturday. Downtown, protesters defaced statutes and wrapped Palestinian flags around statues of Benjamin Franklin and General Marquis de Lafayette while also smashing the windows of a McDonald’s and spraying “Gaza” in red graffiti. Red paint was also smeared on the White House gates, which protesters chanting “F*** Joe Biden” tried to climb,” according to videos posted on social media.
Activist hubs that planned the Saturday rally are part of a handful of radical coalitions that have been condemned by pro-Israel lawmakers and groups as antisemitic and sympathetic to Hamas, as well as other U.S.-designated terror groups. A handful of the organizers for the protest in Washington are technically not stand-alone organizations but rather share the tax-exempt status of WESPAC Foundation, a left-wing charity in New York and a major player in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, or BDS, movement against Israel. The WESPAC Foundation has campaigned to free Ahmad Saadat, the long-imprisoned leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, terror group, according to documents filed with the IRS.
Through a process called fiscal sponsorship, registered charities often provide services, such as donation processing, human resources, and legal oversight, to grassroots projects housed under them, according to the National Council of Nonprofits. This arrangement allows projects to avoid filing their own financial disclosures with the IRS, making it unclear where they get their assets.
One project under WESPAC that helped organize the Washington protest is the Palestinian Youth Movement, or PYM, “a transnational, independent, grassroots movement of young Palestinians in Palestine and in exile worldwide as a result of the ongoing Zionist colonization and occupation of our homeland,” according to its website. PYM-USA in 2017 announced a writing scholarship named after Ghassan Kanafani, a since-assassinated PFLP terror leader who was active in 1972 when the group attacked an Israeli airport that left 26 dead, according to archived funding records.
Moreover, PYM has over the years posted images on social media of protesters holding posters with the PFLP’s logo and members and has also celebrated its leaders, including Leila Khaled, who, in 1969, hijacked a plane from Rome to Tel Aviv, Israel. Khaled reportedly received plastic surgery six times in an attempt to hide from the public and in 1970 unsuccessfully tried to hijack a flight from Amsterdam to New York City.
WESPAC’s U.S. Palestinian Community Network, which has openly called on its website to free imprisoned PFLP members, including Khalida Jarrar, helped organize the protest as well, a flyer shows. So did National Students for Justice in Palestine, a “decentralized” coalition with U.S. chapters that have glorified terrorism against Jews and expressed support for the PFLP, Hamas, and other terror factions, such as Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to a 2017 report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.
“The anti-Israel propaganda that has been propagated at rallies and protests across our nation is truly disturbing,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), a House Foreign Affairs Committee member, told the Washington Examiner.
“Also disturbing is the fact that many of the organizations sponsoring events like the recent D.C. protests have openly called for the elimination of the Jewish state, including the Palestinian Youth Movement and Students for Justice in Palestine, whose national organization called Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack and murderous rampage ‘a historic win for Palestinian resistance,'” Lawler said.
The Palestinian Feminist Collective also rakes in cash through WESPAC, according to a fundraising link on its website. On Oct. 7, the collective posted a graphic on social media appearing to praise the Hamas terror attacks, noting it “holds firmly the right of Palestinians to resist the Zionist colonizer.”
That rhetoric, however, hasn’t stopped gender studies departments at hundreds of universities across the U.S., including Yale University, the University of Chicago, Wesleyan University, Ohio State University, Syracuse University, and the University of Virginia, from signing an open letter “in solidarity with the Palestinian Feminist Collective,” documents show.
The letter does not use the words “Hamas” or “terrorism,” according to the latest copy reviewed by the Washington Examiner. Instead, it declares, “We do not subscribe to a ‘both sides’ rhetoric that erases the military, economic, media, and global power that Israel has over Palestine.”
Meanwhile, another Washington protest organizer was ANSWER, a left-wing coalition that on Oct. 7 justified the terror attacks, writing on social media that “the Israeli apartheid regime has precipitated a counter-offensive by Palestinian resistance forces.”
ANSWER is also not a stand-alone group. It discloses in an online pro-Palestinian fundraiser that the coalition is sponsored by Progress Unity Fund, a charity that lists a San Francisco address on tax forms. Progress Unity Fund said on documents filed with the IRS in May that its president was Susan Muysenberg, who has written articles for pro-Marxist publications, including Liberation News, a “newspaper for the party of socialism” that has pushed extensive pro-Hamas propaganda since Oct. 7.
Al-Awda also helped organize the Saturday event and solicits donations through PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, records show. It was a founding coalition member of the anti-Israel Global Palestinian Right of Return, which, in turn, has been a member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the Jerusalem Post reported. The BDS panel has included Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a separate coalition long represented by U.S.-designated terror groups, such as the PFLP, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Palestinian Liberation Front, the Washington Examiner reported.
For years, Al-Awda has been headed by Amani al Hindi Barakat, who’s supported “intifada” against Israel and praised anti-Israel terrorists, including Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, as “excellent,” social media posts show.
In 2014, Barakat posted on Facebook, “Inshallah, We are don’t you worry Marwan,” and linked to a statement by convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti calling on Palestinians to “circumvent the option of comprehensive resistance and activate it in all the occupied Palestinian territories,” according to an Arab translation.
“The authorities absolutely should investigate how antisemitic demonstrations are being organized, especially considering the numerous illegal actions taking place during these protests, not to mention the calls for mass genocide against the Jewish people,” spokesman Pete McGinnis for the Functional Government Initiative, an ethics watchdog group, told the Washington Examiner.
Maryland2PalestineOrganizers also helped sponsor the Saturday rally, a flyer shows. The group has expressed support on its website for Palestinian “martyrs” and boosted a petition to free Ahmad Manasra, who was convicted in 2016 on two counts of attempted murder after stabbing two Israelis with his cousin, according to news reports.
McGinnis added, “The American people should know if terror groups are funding protests and inciting violence in our country.”
All in all, the Saturday march was endorsed by hundreds of anti-Israel groups across the world, including Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at American University, Georgetown University, the University of Maryland, George Mason University, Boston University, Temple University, and other schools. Since Oct. 7, universities have come under heightened scrutiny from pro-Israel donors over their failure to condemn antisemitism.
Yet another endorsement for the Saturday event was the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, an Israeli-designated terror group organizing rallies across the world in support of Gaza. Samidoun is sponsored by Alliance for Global Justice, an “anti-capitalist” charity in Arizona revealed through a Washington Examiner investigation to have Palestinian terror ties, particularly because Samidoun has shared employees with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Macklemore, the rapper whose real name is Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, notably spoke at the Saturday protest in Washington. “We’ve been told to just be complicit to protect our careers, to protect our interests, and I’m not going to do it anymore,” he claimed on the stage at downtown’s Freedom Plaza. “I know enough that this is a genocide.”
To one member of Congress who spoke with the Washington Examiner, Macklemore is really just a “Hollywood has-been.”
“He’s trying to make himself relevant again by joining the Hollywood nut element,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who sits on the House Oversight Committee.