Progressive Rep. McCollum: Condemn Israel for ‘Terrorist Group’ Designations

Progressive Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., is introducing a resolution in the House calling on Congress and President Joe Biden to publicly condemn Israel’s recent designation of six Palestinian civil society groups as ”terrorists.”

”When a government uses the label of terrorist as a weapon to silence the work of human rights organizations and advocates who courageously represent vulnerable people living  under military occupation, it is a sign of incredible weakness more aligned with an authoritarian regime than a healthy democracy,” McCollum said in a statement Thursday.

”Israel’s decision to brand these prominent Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations exposes the truth that Israel’s occupation is violent, immoral, and unjust, and that peaceful efforts to defend the rights of Palestinian children, women, farmers, or prisoners must be declared illegal.”

Reuters reported Oct. 22 that the Israeli government declared six Palestinian civil society organizations as ”terrorists,” claiming they were ”funneling donor aid to militants.”

The Israeli Defense Ministry said the groups had financial ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which carried out deadly attacks against Israelis in the past, according to the report.

“The declared organizations received large sums of money from European countries and international organizations, using a variety of forgery and deceit,” the defense ministry said in the story.

The six organizations are: Defense for Children International-Palestine, Al-Haq, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, The Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

Several organizations — including the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner’s Office — condemned Israel’s decision to designate these groups.

”This designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere. Silencing their voices is not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do. We call upon the international community to defend the defenders.”

McCollum’s resolution, which has the support of ”squad” members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., as well as fellow Democrats Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill.

The resolution calls on Biden and Congress to join with the other organizations in publicly condemning Israel’s action, and ”recognize the value and importance of the courageous work” being done by those civil society groups to defend Palestinian human rights, calling the Jewish state ”authoritarian” and ”anti-democratic.”

”I condemn this action to shut down legitimate civil society organizations advocating for Palestinian human rights. This is nothing more than an attempt to silence supporters of Palestinian rights,” McCollum said. ”It is anti-democratic, and contrary to the values expected of a U.S. ally.

“I urge the Biden administration to immediately call upon the Israeli government to reverse their decision and restore these organizations’ ability to continue their important work.”

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