It hit us like a proverbial 2×4 this morning when we opened today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with a report on 100 Hamas leaders arrested yesterday by the IDF, “Israel Arrests Hamas Officials”. These arrests were in retaliation from the alleged Hamas kidnapping of three Jewish youths caught hitchhiking home five days ago from a yeshiva in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron. See our Iconoclast post, “IDF Raids Seek an American and Two Israelis Allegedly Abducted by Hamas”.
Among those the IDF detained was Abdul Aziz Duwaik, speaker of the non-functioning Palestinian parliament and a University of Pennsylvania Architecture graduate. Students from the University of California at Irvine Olive Tree Initiative program purportedly met him by accident in the disputed territories back in 2009. We chronicled that in our NER article, “Does the Olive Tree Initiative Lack Credibility?” This is not the first arrest for Duwaik as the IDF previously detained him in January 2012 in the wake of the October 2011 release by Hamas of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since his capture by terrorists in 2006. Duwaik had previously been detained by the IDF in 2006, when Shalit was originally abducted.
Investigations by local Orange County Zionist activists, among them Deidre or “Dee” Sterling and Debra Glazer, had revealed funding of the OTI program in part by an affiliate of the Orange County Jewish Federation, the Rose Project, and the Chancellor of the UCAL University system. Those revelations of the chance encounter with Duwaik raised contretemps over why a Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) was funding the OTI program that put UCIrvine students, both Jewish and not, in harm’s way during trips to the disputed territories. A subsequent OTI trip included a visit to Ramallah to pay respects at the tomb of the late Fatah-PLO leader, Yassir Arafat. In our NER article on the episode we noted:
The JFOC’s credibility problem surfaced from a response to a California Public Records Act (PRA) request by local activists from Ha’Emet. That information surfaced a “smoking gun” letter sent by JFOC President Elcott to UCI Chancellor Drake in October, 2009 revealing a meeting between OTI students and Hamas representative Duwaik. The JFOC leaders seized upon this letter as evidence that they had brought this to the attention of UCI administrators seeking an investigation. The JFOC leaders never informed the community.
In the JFOC letter the authors wring their hands about the fact that Jewish students on the 2009 OTI trip inadvertently met with a Hamas leader of the West Bank, Aziz Duwaik, on September 16th. The students were told by an unidentified person, presumably, the field co-coordinator for the OTI program, to say nothing while passing through Israel or upon arrival back in California, as it might look as if under our laws they were giving material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
As noted in a FrontPage Magazine article, “The Patrons of Anti-Israelism”, U.Cal Chancellor Yudoff also provided funds to OTI:
. . . only a matter of weeks after the Hamas meeting was made known to Drake, University of California Chancellor Mark Yudoff donated $5000 to the OTI via the Lumina Foundation for Education. This was followed in May 2010 with a $2000 award to the STUDENT LEADERS OF OTI by Yudoff for the university’s Presidential Leadership Award.
Sources tell us that the same OTI program leaders who perpetrated the 2009 encounter with Duwaik are still in charge at UCIrvine. Further that UCIrvine graduate are conducting OTI program elsewhere in the UCAL university system.
Then there was Sheik Hassan Yousef, co-founder of Hamas in West Bank and father of the fabled Shin Bet double agent, Mosab Hassan Yousef, subject of the 2010 book, Son of Hamas , and the acclaimed 2014 Sundance Festival movie, The Green Prince. We had contacted the younger Yousef in 2010 to facilitate legal clinic aid to assist him in fighting a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration hearing that might have resulted in his being deported back to Israel. The immigration Judge dismissed the charges in a June 2010 decision granting Mosab asylum. We noted in an Iconoclast post on the DHS immigration hearing decision:
The efforts of many, including his former Shin Bet handler, have been rewarded with this decision of the DHS. We had been an early advocate for Congressional investigation of this misinformed deportation matter.
Ha’aretz in a March 2010 report noted that Sheik Hassan has disowned his son Mosab when it was revealed that the latter had become an agent for Shin Bet. Mosab had assisted in conducting intelligence operations disrupting terrorist plans purportedly saving lives, both Israeli and Palestinians. Part of the Sheik’s animus for doing this was Mosab’s public conversion to Christianity. The Ha’aretz article cited the Sheik’s message conveyed by letter while serving a six year term in an Israeli prison:
Hamas Web sites published a letter by Sheikh Hassan that the militant group said was smuggled out of the Israeli prison where he is serving a six-year sentence.
In the letter, he said his family announced its “complete renunciation of the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab.” The father said though he was sorry to take such [a step], he had no choice after his son “disbelieved in God…and collaborated with our enemies.”
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.