Being a neutral observer in a war zone is a difficult one. But when these observers are actually partisans masquerading as objective “monitors” of the treatment of civilians, then the images of the conflict broadcast to the world can be skewed beyond recognition.

Such is the case with the International Solidarity Movement, and its members in place in the West Bank and Gaza.

The ISM is often referred to in the media as a “peace movement.” Its spokespersons are assumed to provide objective daily updates for foreign consuls and the foreign press based in the Middle East. For this, the group has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

This has been especially true since the accidental death of Rachel Corrie, a member who was killed during an Israeli Defense Force operation in Gaza earlier this year. Corrie’s presumed martyrdom has helped galvanize favorable press attention and support for the group.

Yet there is a flip side to the portrait the ISM presents of itself. In practice, it is nothing less than a revolutionary movement that fights in support of a violent struggle. Indeed, it defines itself as anything but neutral observers of the conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians.

In the opening paragraph on its own Web site (, the ISM says that it supports the Palestinian “armed struggle” against the “occupation” and in favor of the “relevant U.N. resolutions.”

It says it uses nonviolent means in support of that struggle. But as in any paramilitary operation, there are combat units and support units. In the ongoing fighting between Palestinian terrorists and Israel’s army, the ISM chooses to play the role of a support unit for the Palestinians.

While it invokes the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi in its approach, the ISM rejects the nonviolent vision of both men by working in alliance with those who choose to kill people in order to advance their goals.

I asked ISM spokesman Raphael Cohen how his group defines the “occupation.” His definition? “The Zionist presence in Palestine” – that is, all of the country including Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

Cohen went on to say that the ISM view of peace would be a “one-state solution,” or no Israel at all. ISM spokesperson Huwaida Araf confirmed that it supports the Palestinian “right of return,” which is tantamount to calling for the end of the Jewish state.

The group freely admits to:

  • Spotting and reporting IDF troops in military operations and reporting their whereabouts to armed Palestinian units. Since ISM members are not Arabs and unarmed, they can provide reports on troop movements to terrorists that take refuge in population centers.
  • Intervening with IDF troops at checkpoints in order to facilitate movement of Palestinians between cities. Who knows how many terrorists have been able to infiltrate into Israel with the help of this group?
  • Preventing Israel from monitoring and closing off the tunnels that Palestinian terror groups have dug along the border with Egypt. When Corrie was killed, she was trying to block an IDF tractor that was carving a path in the direction of these underground tunnels.

The group is now launching an international campaign to recruit 1,000 volunteers to come to Israel in the guise of unassuming tourists.

On its Web site, it advises its volunteers to “have a really good story about why you are coming and not to mention anything about ISM, or knowing, liking or planning to visit Palestinians. You must play it as though your visit is for other, Israel-based reasons, like tourism, religion, visiting an Israeli friend, etc.”

[ISM spokespeople announced at a public meeting at Hebrew University on June 2nd that it would encourage future ISM participants to apply to the “birthright” program to come to Israel for free, through an organization that has been lacking volunteers of late to join their programs.]

By definition, a movement that endorses the “armed struggle” of a terrorist organization should itself be considered a terrorist organization. Despite its peaceful image, the ISM has crossed the line from protest to an alliance with hate.


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.