Biden urged to ban anti-Semitic Palestinian ‘terror’ group banned in Germany, Israel

JERUSALEM – New pressure is being put on the Biden administration to penalize Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network for its connections to Iran’s regime and the United States-designated terrorist group Hamas.

Germany and Israel labeled the Palestinian organization as a terrorist entity in 2021.

“If the U.S. is really going to do something about the pro-Hamas mobs who’ve caused problems on U.S. campuses, they will have to take action to ban Samidoun and investigate their allies and supporters,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the LA-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JPost.

Samidoun has chapters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Iran, as well as in several European countries: Sweden, France and Spain.

Nancy Faeser, the German federal minister of the interior, said in “Today, I have banned all activity in Germany by Hamas, a terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy the State of Israel. Samidoun is an international network that spreads anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda while saying it supports prisoners in different countries. Samidoun also supported and praised various foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas… Banning the activity of Hamas and Samidoun, and dissolving Samidoun Deutschland, will stop such displays of hate in Germany.”

She added, “With its spontaneous ‘celebrations’ here in Germany after the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, Samidoun showed its antisemitism and total lack of respect for human life in a very awful way.”

When asked about the German and Israeli bans of Samidoun, a U.S. State Department representative told JPost, “We are aware that Germany has banned Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. We don’t comment on deliberations, or likely deliberations, that have to do with the U.S. terrorist designation process.”

The State Department representative added, “Unlike many of our foreign partners, the United States, under the First Amendment, cannot designate organizations simply because of hateful speech. As a matter of law, in order to designate any group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, the Secretary of State must decide that it is a foreign organization that engages in terrorist activity that threatens the security of United States citizens or our national security.”

Terrorism experts have, however, pointed out that Samidoun’s connections to U.S.-designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) meet the requirements for a ban.

Experts have been looking more closely at what Samidoun did during the pro-Hamas demonstrations on campus.

On May 16, Steven Stalinsky, the counterterrorism expert and executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), wrote on the JPost op-ed page, “Also supporting U.S. students was a group of jihadi Gaza student groups that represented Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and others. Its statement of ‘solidarity’ with the ‘Student Intifada in the United States,’ which was translated into English and published on April 25, congratulated the American students who are ‘standing up to put an end to the Zionist-U.S. genocide’ and praised their ‘work to change their universities into ‘Popular Universities for Gaza.'”

MEMRI also posted a video of a speech given by Charlotte Kates, the Canadian-based international coordinator of Samidoun, to around 1,200 people in southern Israel in October. On October 7, Hamas killed more than 30 Americans and kidnapped more than 250 people.

On April 26 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Kates said: “We demand a free Palestine from the River to the Sea. And we stand with the Palestinian resistance and their heroic and brave actions on October 7. As they said, long live October 7th! And we say today: long live October 7th!”

Kates was arrested by Canadian authorities for making a speech in support of Hamas terrorism. On the other side of the Atlantic, Herbert Reul, the interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, broke up and outlawed the NGO Palestine Solidarity Duisburg on May 16 because it supports Hamas and Samidoun.

Reul said, “This ban comes at the right time and sends the right message. In many cases, solidarity with Palestine hides nothing other than hatred of Jews – as is the case with the organization that was banned today. We will use all legal options to fight antisemitism and ideological support for terrorism. Today, the state has taken a clear stand against extremism.”

However, the ban on Samidoun and its activities in Germany has not been entirely successful. Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, the publisher of the German-Jewish newspaper Jewish Review (Jüdische Rundschau in German), told JPost, “The half-hearted bans on Samidoun and Hamas, which still leave too much room for anti-Jewish activities, come far too late and are simply alibi actions by the responsible political actors to draw attention away from the main issue.”

According to the recently released domestic intelligence report from North Rhine-Westphalia, the number of  has gone up from 150 in 2022 to 175 in 2023. In 2003, Germany and the EU both formally designated Hamas as a terrorist group. However, Germany did not enforce the ban very strictly, and Hamas was able to grow its membership, recruit people, and raise money there.

The German state of Baden-Württemberg has not been strict with Hamas. The state’s Green Party governor, Winfried Kretschmann, has refused to ban Palestine Committee Stuttgart, an NGO that has raised money for Samidoun. The Palestine Committee Stuttgart’s contact information is listed on the municipal website of Stuttgart, the capital city of Baden-Württemberg.

Professor Michael Wolffsohn, a well-known historian and commentator on modern antisemitism and Islamism in Germany, told JPost that the “structural problem” in Germany can be traced back to former German Chancellor “Angela Merkel’s migration policy. Not just in the years 2015-16. Hundreds of thousands of times, Islamic antisemites were allowed into the country without being checked. Only right-wing extremism, which was also very dangerous, was given any attention, while left-wing extremism was played down as partners of the Islamists.”

Wolffsohn warned, “It’s not just about this or that federal government. You also have to look at the state governments and municipalities,” while noting that also includes the “the police and judicial authorities.”

The future for Jews in Germany looks bad because of the big outbreaks of Jew-hatred since Oct. 7. Just last week, nearly 4,000 German Muslims, leftists and ordinary Germans protested against Israel in front of the main synagogue in Munich, Bavaria.

“Jewish life in Germany is becoming more and more impossible,” Korenzecher said. “Illegal migration from mostly Islamic countries, where hatred of Jews and Israel is sometimes spread by the state and is practically part of the reason for being there, is a real threat to Jewish life.” 

JPost contacted Samidoun for a comment.