Barnard College in New York is due on Thursday to host a group accused of ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist organization in the United States and more than 30 other countries.
Two members of Addameer, a Ramallah-based outfit that bills itself as a prisoner support and human rights association, will participate in the event Breaking Bars: Fighting Incarceration from the US to Palestine, which is set to take place at the school’s Diana Center.
Critics such as the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor have recently warned that “more than half of Addameer’s current and former employees, as well as lawyers that work for Addameer, have links to the PFLP.”
The terrorist group has carried out multiple attacks against civilians, including at least nine suicide bombings that claimed nearly 110 casualties during the Second Intifada. More recently, it orchestrated a 2014 massacre of five worshipers and one police officer in a Jerusalem synagogue.
Numerous Addameer leaders have been suspected — and, in many cases, convicted — of involvement with the PFLP, according to research carried out by NGO Monitor.
The group does not publicly affiliate with the PFLP, describing itself as a center founded by “a group of activists interested in human rights.” It claims it offers free legal aid to “political prisoners,” advocates on their behalf, “and works to end torture and other violations of prisoners’ rights through monitoring, legal procedures and solidarity campaigns.”
Nonetheless, its apparent links to the PFLP have caused some concern among members of the Jewish and pro-Israel community at Barnard and Columbia University.
Students Supporting Israel at Columbia cautioned on Tuesday that by hosting the event, the university “not only allows but also propagates antisemitism on its own campus.”
“It is scary to us as Jews, Israelis and pro-Israel students to know that an undergraduate college within our university allows a recognized terror organization whose goal is to destroy our people’s country to speak on our campus,” they wrote. “We are calling for an end to this propagation and encourage the administration to take a stand in protecting ALL of its students.”
The event is co-organized by Release Aging People in Prison – RAPP, whose member Laura Whitehorn will join Addameer’s representatives for an “intimate discussion” on “shared systems of domination” affecting American and Palestinian prisoners.
In 1990 Whitehorn was sentenced to prison for her involvement in the 1983 bombing of the US Senate and seven other sites in Washington, D.C. and New York City, including the Israeli Aircraft Industries Building. She was released on parole in 1999 after serving 14 years.
Other hosts include the Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Social Justice Institute — Anti-Criminalization Working Group, and Jewish Voice for Peace — the latter of which has previously advocated on behalf of Rasmea Odeh, a PFLP member convicted of a 1969 bombing that killed two Hebrew University students. Odeh, who was deported from the US after lying on her immigration forms, maintains that she is innocent.
Representatives for Barnard, Columbia, and Addameer did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner‘s requests for comment.