US ‘Palestinian Youth Movement’ Hosts American Rallies to Glorify Jenin Terrorists
by Abha Shankar
The Palestinian terrorists were killed after opening fire on Israeli security forces who entered the Jenin refugee camp last week to thwart an imminent, major Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) attack against Israelis. At least two rallies scheduled for Friday call for “Glory to Our Martyrs in Jenin.”
The rallies in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are led by the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), a virulently anti-Israel group that has a history of whitewashing terrorism and painting Palestinians as victims.
The Israeli forces came under immediate fire during the raid and IDF surveillance video shows Palestinians tossing explosives and firebombs from rooftops.
Four PIJ terrorists and two Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members were among the nine people killed in the resulting firefight, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
The rallies glorifying Palestinian terrorists are consistent with PYM ideology.
In fact, PYM has announced two upcoming back-to-back events in New York City and Michigan that further glorify Palestinian terrorists and propagate the myth of Palestinian victimhood.
On Feb. 11, PYM’s New York chapter will host the screening of a film extolling 1970s Palestinian terrorism. A day later, PYM’s Michigan branch and the radical Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) team up to host a speech by notorious Palestinian activist and Israel basher Mohammed El-Kurd at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
El-Kurd has praised Palestinian terrorists and supports the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
“Israeli occupation forces brutalizing Palestinians during a nonviolent protest against ethnic cleansing today,” El-Kurd wrote during the May 2021 Gaza War. “Non-violence doesn’t work. The only solution is sanctioning and boycotting this terrorist nation.”
PYM is a radical transnational Palestinian movement with 14 active chapters in the United States and Canada. It works alongside other extremist anti-Israel groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Within Our Lifetime (WOL), Samidoun, and others to attack Israel and Zionism.
The film “Resistance, Why?”, according to a PYM Facebook post, “features interviews with Palestinian militants of the 70s and rare footage of life in Palestinian refugee camps of the time.”
An official event announcement describes the film as “a fascinating time capsule of an era of Palestinian resistance and global armed struggle against imperialism that echoes through history … calling for justice, the right to self-determination, and for the Palestinian people to fight against occupation, Zionism, and imperialism.”
The film features “never before seen footage of Ghassan Kanafani,” adds the announcement.
Kanafani was co-founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a US- and EU-designated terrorist group.
Kanafani was PFLP’s spokesman when the terrorist group carried out the 1972 Lod Airport massacre. Three gunmen that the PFLP recruited from the Japanese Red Army opened fire on civilians at the Israeli airport, killing 26 people and injuring many more.
Kanafani was killed in a car bombing outside Beirut about a month later.
But PYM chooses to portray Kanafani as a “revolutionary writer” and “political and cultural icon of the Palestinian resistance.” It even sponsors the “Annual Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Scholarship” in honor of the PFLP leader.
PYM has similarly described PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled as a “Palestinian resistance icon.”
Khaled led two PFLP hijackings targeting Israelis in 1969 and 1970.
PYM’s eulogizing of terrorists is not just confined to the PFLP. It extends to other US-designated terrorist groups, including the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, PIJ, and Hamas. Its habitual “All Glory to Our Martyrs” posters contain eulogies to senior leaders of Lion’s Den terror cell and other terrorists.
In August, for example, PYM glorified a top Palestinian terrorist reported to be an al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander.
“The Lion of Nablus, Ibrahim Nabulsi was beloved by all in the city, emerging from an early age as one of its foremost defenders and resistance fighters,” PYM wrote on its Facebook page. “Nabulsi gave his life to protect and guard Nablus from zionist [sic] incursion,” the post added, describing him as “a prime example of the sacrifice routinely given by the youth of the city to ensure its continued freedom from the occupation.”
Furthermore, the PYM’s radicalism doesn’t end at eulogizing terrorists. The group is ideologically opposed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And like the revised Hamas charter, the group envisions a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea that would mean erasing Israel off the map.
After the Trump administration unveiled its blueprint for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, one that creates a Palestinian state and protects Israeli security requirements in the Jordan Valley, PYM called it “nothing more than an extention [sic] and consolidation of the Zionist colonial project.”
“We will continue resisting until the land is rightfully ours once more, and until our people secure their right of return,” the post added. “From the river to the sea.”
PYM also advocates on behalf of people convicted of terrorism charges within the United States. In a Nov. 22 Facebook post, it called “on the Palestinian and Arab community” and their allies to work to free the “Holy Land Foundation 5.”
“Time and time again, the US and the Zionist entity have attempted to quell, intimidate, and disband Palestinian organizations from fighting for the freedom of our political prisoners,” said the post. “By continuing to imprison the HLF5 despite their being held on bogus charges, the US is attempting to make an example out of the five men and, in doing so, deter our community in the diaspora from supporting our people in Palestine.”
Five senior officials of the Holy Land Foundation were sentenced to long prison terms in May 2009 for illegally funneling more than $12 million to Hamas. Dozens of exhibits linked the foundation to Hamas, including events featuring Hamas leaders. A 2011 appellate ruling upheld the convictions.
In February 2015, a PYM statement condemning “the systematic policing and censoring of our voice and any voice that challenges the state of Israel and the role of the US in upholding their complete impunity” cited the examples of convicted PIJ operative Sami Al-Arian and PFLP terrorist Rasmea Odeh.
A member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s governing board, Al-Arian agreed to be deported as part of his guilty plea for conspiring to aid the PIJ. He was deported to Turkey in 2015.
A naturalized US citizen, Odeh was convicted in Israel for her role in the 1969 bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem, which were carried out on behalf of the PFLP. She failed to disclose her criminal record on immigration forms as required when she came to the United States.
A US Federal jury convicted Odeh for naturalization fraud in 2015 and the judge sentenced her to 18 months in prison. Odeh won a new trial on appeal but then accepted deportation as part of an earlier plea deal. She was deported to Jordan in 2017.
PYM-USA defended Odeh throughout her legal battles and even served on the Rasmea Defense Committee led by United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN).
“The perceived threat that [Rasmea] Odeh poses has been manufactured in such a way that bears resemblance to the McCarthyist trials of the 1950s,” the group said in a 2013 statement. It described Odeh as “a principled activist, role model and educator to generations of Palestinian and Arab American youth in the U.S.”
PYM is a staunch advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
And while PYM promotes a film lauding terrorists, it does not believe Israeli culture should be presented in North America.
In March, PYM’s Toronto chapter urged the Harbourfront Centre to cancel three days of performances by Israel’s L-E-V dance troupe alleging it is “a ‘soft warfare’ strategy being employed by the Zionist state in an attempt to conceal the state’s daily crimes of colonization, occupation, blockade, and apartheid by presenting a palatable face for the state through the arts.” If the performances were not canceled, the Harbourfront Centre would be “complicit in art-washing the Zionist colonization and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people by hosting this performance.”
The shows went on.
PYM has sponsored delegations to and hosted webinars and rallies in partnership with PFLP front groups including Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (“Addameer”), Defense for Children International — Palestine (DCI-Palestine), and Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network (“Samidoun”).
Addameer, DCI-Palestine and Samidoun were designated by Israel in 2021 for serving as PFLP fronts.
PYM additionally organizes anti-Israel rallies and other events with radical Islamist anti-Israel groups such as CAIR, AMP, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USPCR), and National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP).
During the May 2021 Gaza war, PYM, CAIR and other Islamist groups co-sponsored and endorsed pro-Palestine rallies featuring strident antisemitic rhetoric and chants that included calls for Israel’s destruction. This overt display of antisemitism on social media and at pro-Palestine rallies during and after the war corresponded with a surge in violent attacks against Jews and other antisemitic incidents across the United States.
PYM’s rallies to honor terrorists who died before they could attack civilians as “martyrs” and its screening of a film eulogizing 1970s Palestinian terrorism as “a fascinating time capsule of an era of Palestinian resistance and global armed struggle,” only reaffirm that the group’s singular agenda and purpose is Israel’s destruction.
Research Analyst Teri Blumenfeld contributed to this report.
Abha Shankar is the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) research director. A version of this article first appeared at IPT.