Israel’s official anti-BDS ministry behind attacks on Rasmea Odeh

Even after the silencing of Rasmea Odeh from giving a speech on Palestinian women in the struggle for liberation in Berlin on 15 March, the Israeli state is officially continuing its campaign of defamation and harassment. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs is headed by Gilad Erdan, who also heads the Ministry of Internal Security (which includes the Israel Prison Administration) . A prominent figure in the Likud party, Erdan has stepped up global defamation campaigns against BDS organizers and Palestine solidarity activists around the world in the months leading up to the Israeli elections.

Most recently, Erdan publicly claimed credit for pressuring Germany to issue a decision cancelling Rasmea Odeh’s Schengen visa and forcing her to leave the country. Erdan’s ongoing political attacks have especially targeted Palestinian human rights defenders as well as solidarity groups (including Samidoun) working to support Palestinian political prisoners. In this context, the attack on Rasmea Odeh comes as perhaps no surprise – but the German government’s decision to cancel her visa under the demands of Erdan and (far-right-linked) U.S. ambassador Richard Grenell remains shocking and appalling.

Rasmea is continuing her struggle in German courts and refusing to accept this unjust action. At the same time, Erdan’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which enjoys a multi-million dollar budget for attacking Palestine solidarity around the world, is defaming Odeh in paid ads on Twitter.

The ministry’s official Twitter account, @4ILorg, purchased paid “promoted” tweets in German and English attacking Rasmea as well as the BDS movement and Samidoun. It approvingly quoted German officials who conceded to the Israeli demand to silence Odeh, violating basic expressive rights in order to appease Israeli officials responsible for ongoing human rights violations, unjust detention, colonial occupation, settlement building, land confiscation and ongoing extrajudicial killings, both in the West Bank and in the targeting of popular protesters on the colonially-imposed “border” with Gaza every week in the Great March of Return.

“This vicious campaign reflects a deliberate exaggeration, attempting to portray the alliance of Zionist and imperialist forces in silencing a Palestinian speaker as a historic achievement. This is part of a clear policy of terrorizing the Palestinian and Arab communities in Europe. It is destined to fail inevitably, confronting the growing role of refugee movements, student organizing, youth movements and the growing popularity of the BDS movement. This is a reflection of the ongoing struggle for justice and liberation in Palestine that will end with the victory of the Palestinian people,” said Mohammed Khatib, Europe coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

He pointed out that the targeting of the Samidoun Network by the “anti-BDS ministry” is “a failing attempt to distort our image by the racist minister Gilad Erdan, who is also the Minister of Internal Security daily targeting Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.” Khatib said that these attacks are part of an “ongoing campaign to criminalize Palestinian resistance in any form, targeting all voices and supporters of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and their daily struggle, as the prisoners stand at the forefront of the campaign to defend their rights and all of our rights as well.”