|Backgrounder: Mazin Qumsiyeh
Group and Affiliations
Posted: March 8, 2007
Qumsiyeh is involved with several anti-Israel groups, including:
- Al-Awda - Right of Return Coalition
Qumsiyeh is a co-founder and former Media Committee chairman of Al-Awda -Right of Return Coalition, a radical anti-Israel grassroots organization. Founded in April 2000, Al-Awda advocates a no-compromise stance on the “Palestinian right of return,” arguing that Palestinian refugees have the right to return “to their original homes and villages” which existed prior to the founding of Israel, and that they should be paid restitution for their losses. Al-Awda supports the establishment of a Palestinian state over all the territory west of the Jordan River, including Israel. Al-Awda’s slogan, “Intifada! Palestine Will Be Free From the River to the Sea,” demonstrates the group’s unwillingness to accept the existence of the Israel and support for violence. It has organized large protests with the International Action Center and its anti-war affiliate, ANSWER. In 2004, Al-Awda held rallies at the Israeli Consulate in New York in response to the assassination of Hamas leaders Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Qumsiyeh’s official relationship with Al-Awda ended in August 2005 as a result of a dispute between the Connecticut Chapter, which he was leading at the time, and Al-Awda national.
- Middle East Crisis Committee
In 2006, the former Connecticut chapter of Al-Awda folded into the Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC), for which Qumsiyeh is now a vice chairperson. MECC considers Israel to be a racist, apartheid state and seeks the end of all United States aid to Israel. It sponsors biased, one-sided speakers and programs, and produces a public access television program called “The Struggle,” which features interviews and programs with anti-Israel speakers.
- Wheels of Justice
Qumsiyeh joined Wheels of Justice, a bus tour which has traveled across the country presenting a biased, distinctly anti-Israel view of the Middle East during hundreds of visits to high schools, churches, libraries and college and university campuses, as a speaker in April 2004. At a November 2004 speaking engagement at Newtown High School in Connecticut, Qumsiyeh compared the Palestinian/Israeli situation with that of the Native Americans upon the colonials’ arrival, saying that “The Native Americans were driven from their natural homes and led to live on small reservations. Huge populations were wiped out.” He went on to allege that the American government unfairly supports Israel as a result of pressure from “approximately four million Jews living in America,” arguing that “five billion dollars in military support goes to Israel every year. The American government is clearly behind Israel – at the expense of the Palestinians.”
- US Campaign to End the Occupation
Qumsiyeh is currently serving his final year of a three-year term on the steering committee of the US Campaign to End the Occupation, a large-scale effort of many anti-Israel groups to promote divestment from Israeli companies and to lobby the U.S. Congress to end U.S. support for Israel as long as it occupies the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Palestinian American Congress
Qumsiyeh is on the executive committee of the Palestinian American Congress (PAC), an organization that advocates the right of return and sovereignty with Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. PAC has 21 chapters across the country, including Connecticut, where Qumsiyeh is member of the executive committee.