First of all, here are the facts:
Who Is Avaaz? (abridged)
Mohammad Radwan, Momadic, ongoing
See UPDATES regarding removal of petition.
The latest and most reprehensible petition by Avaaz to date, No to Boycotts of Israel, was released on May 16 2012. This is the final straw for me and a confirmation of whose interests Avaaz really represent. I strongly stand against this petition and urge others to join the BDS movement. One year ago, I helped Avaaz for a few weeks by setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts. During that time, many incidents occurred within the team and I became highly suspicious. After a few weeks, I researched “Who Is Avaaz”, distressed by the thought that I might have actually joined a shady ass organization. These were my findings up until Jul 2011. If people are not complaining about the incessant emails from Avaaz, they are usually concerned with the lack of transparency provided by the organization. The main objective of this post is to provide a little bit more transparency on the question, Who is Avaaz? The question is of pertinence to this author because of the recent Avaaz campaigns during the revolutions taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, namely Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain, and Avaaz taking a very active role. The type of activism taking place is not clearly mentioned in any of Avaaz’s statements and as you will see below, the links to Jewish personalities and organizations raise suspicion in a time where foreign influence is a common accusation by the dictators who are attempting to crush these populist movements. Even if those Jewish entities are well intentioned, it is quite a dangerous position during these turbulent times. Here are some capsule biographies with links of Avaaz luminaries:
Raluca Ganea, Israeli Avaaz Senior Campaigner: read link.
Middle East & Palestine Campaigns
Avaaz began a project in 2011 focusing their attention on the events in the Middle East sparked by the revolution in Tunisia and Egypt. It was after these two countries’ successes in toppling their respective dictators that Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria began their own movements. Here, Avaaz began a project to “magnify” the voices of those struggling to gain their freedom. Their efforts included: teaming up with regional activists in the field of Human Rights; connecting activists/bloggers with major news networks (i.e. Guardian) for which Avaaz has connections; supplying activists with satellite phones & modems in media blackout areas; posting videos online and sharing them with media outlets; facilitating filming of footage of defected soldiers; creating radio and video advertisements such as this video advocating soldiers to cease killing civilians; lobbying foreign ministries and UN to apply pressure on the governments
Before the so-called Arab Spring, Avaaz had ran a campaign during the Israeli invasion of Gaza, it was called “Full Ceasefire, End the Blockade” There was a few controversial matters that arose during the first few days of the invasion when the campaign was released. The early text stated:
Petition to the UNSC, the EU, the Arab League and the USA: We urge you to act immediately to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to protect civilians on all sides, and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Only through robust international action and oversight can the bloodshed be stopped, the Gaza crossings safely re-opened and real progress made toward a wider peace in 2009.
This Wikipedia Talk:Avaaz.org mentions some editing that was done during this campaign and the final version is on their site. Problems mentioned by author:
It is unfortunate that the petition is deliberately edited so that it doesn’t show the savage Israeli attacks on Gaza, instead they only mention rocket attacks into Israel (which resulted in 4 killed Israelis). The petition completely hides the savage Israeli attacks on Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinian (400 so far) including a hundred of kids and their moms.
They have also conducted campaigns for Investigation of the Freedom Flotilla raid that resulted in 9 activists being murdered by Israeli commandos. Most recently the September UN vote for Palestinian statehood. The vote for Palestinian statehood is a controversial matter that not even all Palestinians agree with. This is an initiative from the Palestinian Authority who is frustrated with the failed Peace Process. Critics believe there is no room for this solution with the West Bank divided into cantons with hundreds of thousands illegal settlements crammed into it. What the Palestinian population almost unanimously agrees on is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), but this was not chosen as a suitable course by the Avaaz team, who as seen above, ostensibly leaves matters of priority to the members. There is also a video that was put out that @tarekshalaby analyzed in detail in his post “Normalizing the Illegal State of Israel”
You don’t need to put this video in the context of pro-Zionist Avaaz to understand the real aim behind it. With a campaign as such, any question of Israel’s legitimacy is discarded, any chances of return to pre-1967 borders is abolished, and anyone thinking that this is an illegal Israeli occupation resulting in an inhumane apartheid is absolutely insane. Even some of those who oppose the Israeli government are bound to fall for this and think it’s for everyone’s good. Clearly it’s not.
It could be argued that many of Syria’s enemies prefer the current regime since they have proved that they are not a threat. When Israeli bombs annihilated a suspected nuclear facility in 2007, there was no response. The Golan Heights is still illegally occupied, but Syrian tanks are used against its own people instead. If Assad and his cohorts are removed, there is no guarantee that the new regime will be just as docile. Don’t get me wrong, Assad is a criminal and should leave! On the other hand, the alliance between Iran and Hezbollah has created a front that has been a thorn in the back of Israel, and as a result the US. So one would expect that they are active in trying to remove the Assad clan. As can be seen through media reports, articles and a simple Google search, the vast amount of Avaaz’s efforts in the press relates to Syria, much more than Bahrain, despite the No to F1 in brutal Bahrain campaign. This author poses the question, why the focus on Syria? Syrian activist Rami Jarrah says
What they’ve done is immoral. They’ve taken advantage of the death of thirteen people to suit their media campaign.
Less than 24 hours after publishing this blog post with links to the latest petition by Avaaz, No to Boycotts of Israel it seems the administrators have removed it from their website. Here is the original text:
No to Boycotts of Israel. This petition is awaiting approval by the Avaaz Community. On May 15 2012, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore suggested he may seek a EU-wide boycott of Israeli settlement goods. Israeli settlements are in Area C, Area C of the West Bank under the Oslo Accord was assigned to Israel. Areas A and B were given to the Palestinian Authority to control. If Gilmore wishes to seek a boycott of Israeli settlement goods, we seek an EU-wide boycott of Moroccan goods made in occupied Western Sahara and Indonesian goods made in West Papua New Guinea. We urge Gilmore, Creighton, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs not to seek a boycott of Israeli goods, instead they should look to build bridges between various communities in the Middle East. Singling out Israel will not secure a lasting peace.
Read Gary Spedding’s analysis of this original petition (with background on the Irish connection) where his final statement is:
The dilemma we are left with is that Israel still refuses to label its settlement goods as being from settlements and as such this encourages the more radical approach of a blanket untargeted boycott so as to disallow settlement goods slipping through the net. The Israeli government knows that this causes a lot of polarized debate as not everyone agrees with blanket boycotts and the argument for them is much easier to break down and silence.
I would like to ask Avaaz to unequivocally answer a few related questions: Do you believe in a State for Palestine based on 1967 borders? Do you believe in the Right of Return for all Palestinians? Do you agree that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state? Do you believe every settlement/outpost should be removed? Do you agree with the BDS movement?
Within the time it took to write UPDATE 1, a new petition has emerged in favor of the boycott, also on Avaaz petition site:
Support targetted boycott of Israeli Settlement Goods. May 14 saw Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore pledge support for the much overdue EU strong statement on the Israel–Palestine conflict. Gilmore commenting on the EU’s position said “It’s a very strong statement, particularly in relation to the illegal settlements on the West Bank, which are making the achievement of a two-state solution in the Middle East impossible.” Israel’s settlements have been deemed to be one of the largest obstacles to Peace by the Palestinian people and the International Court of Justice ruled in its 2004 advisory opinion that the Settlements and the wall are a breach of International law. Goods and products from these Israeli Settlements help to continue the enterprise of the settlements in their current framework. These settlements have been condemned by human rights organisations such as AI, HRW and a whole host of Israeli NGOs including B’tselem & Rabbis for Human Rights. The continuing abuse of human rights as a direct result of these settlements must be opposed and the continued occupation of the oppressed Palestinian people the majority of whom are innocent of any crimes against Israel must end. Israel is breaking international law and humanitarian laws whilst also failing to uphold its obligations set out in the Oslo accords and as the occupying power it fails to protect the rights of those it occupies which is yet another obligation Israel ignores.
We, the Irish, Israeli and Palestinian people, request the government in Ireland to use the platform of the EU to encourage a progressive approach to ending the misery of the Palestinian people. We the Irish people urge all of our Ministers to dedicate themselves to the achievement of human rights and genuine equality for all in Israel/Palestine by openly condemning the Israeli government for its policies and actions that not only damage prospects for genuine peace but also needlessly harm the human rights of Palestinians on a daily basis and with impunity. We the undersigned wish to pledge support to Eamon Gilmore, Enda Kenny and Lucinda Creighton in their attempts to push for a Boycott of Israeli Settlement Goods whilst also urging Gilmore to reaffirm his dedication to justice, human rights and freedom by not giving in to pressure from Internal and external advocacy groups that seek to influence his decisions in a way that will benefit the State of Israel in its attempts to continually divert attention from the mostly dire human rights situation of the Palestinian people.
And in fairness, I have also found that in al-Arabiya english, Avaaz Campaigns Director Alice Jay said this:
These are campaigns that are created by members of Avaaz and do not represent the views of the Avaaz community as a whole. In fact Avaaz has campaigned for a Palestinian state and strongly against illegal settlements in the West Bank and see them as one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East.
Now here is Posel, who hasn’t read her own links and consequently claims wrongly that Avaaz is still mounting an anti-BDS campaign:
Avaaz: The Lobbyist SuperPAC that Masquerades as Online Activism
Susanne Posel, Occupy Corporatism, Dec 7 2012
In the digital era, activism has turned into clicktivism and Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz.org has capitalized on the globalization of the world through the internet. Avaaz claims to be a “world in action” that brings the campaigning community together by empowering people through “decision-making worldwide.” Avaaz has given a “voice” to those who do not want to join in actually protesting injustice in the world, but would rather organize within the comfort of their own home with online petitions that alledge to pressure elected officials are governments; similar to other websites like ResPublica, GetUp! and MoveOn.org.
Avaaz has become so influential that they were involved in disseminating propaganda with the proxy war in Syria. In fact, Avaaz has been integral in the manufactured uprising in Syria that has made the Free Syrian Army so successful. Alice Jay, campaign director for Avaaz, claims that the Houla massacre was the work of the Syrian government, stating:
Dozens of children lie covered with blood, their faces show the fear they felt before death, and their innocent lifeless bodies reveal an unspeakable massacre. These children were slaughtered by men under strict orders to sow terror. Yet all the diplomats have come up with so far is a few UN monitors ‘observing’ the violence. Now, governments across the world are expelling Syrian ambassadors, but unless we demand strong action on the ground, they will settle for these diplomatic half-measures.
The response expected by Avaaz is explained in that occupation of Syria would stop such violence. Jay says:
The UN is discussing what to do right now. If there were a large international presence across Syria with a mandate to protect civilians, we could prevent the massacres while leaders engage in political efforts to resolve the conflict. I cannot see more images like these without shouting from the rooftops. But to stop the violence, it is going to take all of us, with one voice, demanding protection for these kids and their families. Sign the urgent petition on the right to call for UN action now and share this campaign with everyone.
The FSA is made up of recruits found by the CIA-created al-Qaeda all over the Arab world, then trained in a facility in Turkey that is controlled by the CIA. These newly trained “freedom fighters” are shipped across the Turkish/Syrian border to become proxy terrorists. And Avaaz is there to offer support and facilitate the propaganda surrounding the mission in Syria to topple Assad. The Salafi terrorist cells are given different names depending on their location geographically, such as al-Qaeda, FSA, etc, so that the idea that they are separate is purveyed to the general public. However, they are subscribing to an extreme form of Islam that is encompassing in Saudi Arabia. The Salafis being used in Syria are exceptionally violent and adhere to sectarianism with complete abhorrence for the US. This ideal is fostered because it helps to facilitate the psychological mindset necessary for manipulation. In October it was discovered that the FSA are being armed by Saudi Arabia. The attack in Aleppo was actually funded with ammunition and weaponry from the US-aligned Middle Eastern nation. The FSA denies knowledge of how they came to obtain this shipment from Saudi Arabia; however it is fairly obvious that the Salafi extremists in their country are supporting the US-backed terrorist faction. Saudi officials have also declined comment thinking that refusal to speak will correspond with their ignorance. Yet, Saudi ammunition has been used since the inception of the CIA-trained “rebels” paid for my “foreign aid” from the US and UK governments.
Thanks to the efforts of Avaaz, there were more casualties with an estimated 400 people killed in February of this year due to the FSA’s ability to utilize satellite-tracking cellular phones. Avaaz also showed their support of EU sanctions imposed onto Syria for the purpose of devastating their economy, impoverishing their citizens and facilitating an uprising that would justify more violent reactions from the CIA-terrorist faction FSA. Patel believes in using the exponentially growing number of internet users to his advantage with online petitions and propaganda slogans, as well as the ability to syphon donations from ignorant members to the tune of $13.5m#yr and $3m during fund-raising events. While Avaaz claims to facilitate the individuality of protesters, it uses mob-mentality tactics to create a large online community of people who will defend the organization. Patel also consults with the UN; the Rockefeller Foundation; the Gates Foundation; globalist-colleges like Harvard University, Oxford University; and CARE International. The International Crisis Group is also funded by Patel. The ICG claim to be independent, yet have an annual budget of $20.5m. They focus on political coercion under the guise of advocacy with current staff members who are former Prime Ministers, Presidents, foreign ministers and European Commissioner; as well as George Soros who is an executive of the organization and Shimon Peres. Some of the other globalists involved with ICG are Zbignew Brzezinski; Stanley Fischer, governor Central Bank of Israel; Matthew McHugh, Congressman and counselor to World Bank; Shlomo ben-Ami, former foreign minister to Israel. The ICG work with the international community, the UNDP, the UNGA and world policymakers to ensure their agendas are heard by those who eyes and ears to be of influence with internal publications such as CrisisWatch; as well as various reports that are disseminated throughout an estimated 70 nations.
In February, Avaaz began a petition against the BDS Movement, a “global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005.” BDS supports the efforts of the Palestinian people to be free of the genocidal tyranny imposed over them by the Zionist-controlled Israeli government. And Avaaz is against this fight for freedom. Avaaz’s online petition promised to pressure elected officials in favor of Israeli settlers who were being “discriminated” against by the Palestinian people. The backing of the occupation of Israel in Palestine is foremost to Avaaz. Avaaz is classified as a 501(c)(4) in the state of Delaware which allows them political lobbying status as well as facilitates their legal right to not disclose their donors. This designation is likening to SuperPACs. Avaaz can hide their funding, while keeping up the appearance of a charitable organization based in New York City. In 2010, internal salaries were reported at $500,000 with undisclosed expenses at $3m. While most expenses are not out of the realm of possibility, spending an $180k on travel expenses for four employees could be suspect. Avaaz supports other online petition sites such as ResPublica with a $100k grant in 2010. This is questionable considering that ResPublica and Avaaz are residing at the same address in New York, along with the ICG. Another like-minded fake activist organization efforts are Darfurian Voices who is slated as bringing attention to Darfur injustices, yet only serves to demonize the Arabian government in Sudan.