Since his senior year at American University, Ibraheem Samirah has founded chapters, organized campaigns and been a spokesman for leading Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organizations in America. He founded a chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace at American University; he organized a Boston campaign against Hewlett Packard as part of an international BDS boycott; he organized protests and served as spokesman for Students for Justice in Palestine; and as recently as November 2018, he was a speaker at the American Muslims for Palestine annual conference.
In 2018, the Israeli government blacklisted the leaders of three of these groups – Jewish Voice for Peace, National Students for Justice in Palestine, and the American Muslims for Palestine – to prevent them from entering Israel.
Internationally, Samirah has stated that he also participated in the Muslim Brotherhood-connected protest in Cairo, Egypt in Rabaa Square in 2013. The protesters’ criticisms included a rejection of their government’s improving relationships with Israel.
Jewish Voice for Peace
Ibraheem Samirah was the Co-founder of American University Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.
From approximately 2003-2009, Ibraheem Samirah lived with his family in Jordan. He returned to the USA to attend American University, where in 2012, as a senior, he co-founded a local chapter of “Jewish Voice for Peace.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, “Jewish Voice for Peace” is
“…a radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural and academic boycott of the state of Israel….
…JVP considers supporters of Israel, or even critics of Israel who do not hew to JVP’s own extreme views, to be complicit in Israel’s purported acts of racist oppression of Palestinians. JVP leaders believe that expressing support for Israel, or not challenging mainstream Jewish organizations that support Israel, must also be viewed as an implicit attack on people of color and all marginalized groups in the United States. JVP’s energetic proselytizing of this view – especially among other social justice groups — has created a hostile environment for many progressive Jews. In a sense, JVP is extending its boycott agenda to include not just Israel but its American supporters as well…
…JVP’s rhetorical drumbeat promoting the view that Zionism and supporting Israel is of a piece with white supremacy, racism, ethnic cleansing and genocide, has the effect of demonizing this constituency of U.S. Jews. One area where this is explicit is in JVP’s smearing of liberal American Jews and American Jewish organizations as Islamophobic…”
Samirah continued his activism with Jewish Voice for Peace in 2014. On July 12, 2014, posting at Facebook via Jewish Voice for Peace, he stated “We are at a critical phase of the divestment movement and NOW is the best time to push it forward: when Israel is most exposed!”
In a post from July 18, 2014 he wrote
“A prime example is an organization I founded a chapter for at American University: Jewish Voice for Peace. I did this to support my Jewish colleagues in letting people know, especially Arabs and Muslims, that not all Jews support Israel, and also to encourage Jews to fight the Israeli government and Israel for what it stands for today. Many other predominantly Jewish organizations are doing the same thing, major examples including +972 Magazine and Mondoweiss.”
On July 18, 2014, again posting via Jewish Voice for Peace, he wrote “We can do this! Its not that hard!!” and shared an article from BDSmovement.net on “9 ways to effectively support Gaza through Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.”
One week later on July 25, 2014 Samirah shared a photo of three masked Palestinians holding an Israeli police shield. He stated
“These are Palestinians from the neighborhood I originate from within the old city Jerusalem, Bab Hutta, making it clear that they have our ‘hood under control. I have quite a few cousins from the area and surrounding it that likely had a hand in today’s resistance to the occupation in Jerusalem. Show them your support. They will see this post but may or not comment on this for their safety!!”
Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine
By the fall of 2014 Samirah was enrolled at Boston University’s Dental school, where he continued his activism in “Jewish Voice for Peace” and became a leading figure in Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The Anti Defamation League’s Center on Extremism describes Students for Justice in Palestine (see the complete report here):
“Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a network of pro-Palestinian student groups across the US which disseminate anti-Israel propaganda often laced with inflammatory and at times combative rhetoric. They are a leading campus organizer of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel, and specialize in using confrontational tactics such as disrupting student-run pro-Israel events, and constructing mock ‘apartheid walls’…
…Individual SJP chapters have adopted far more radical principles, including calling for the dissolution of the State of
Israel, countenancing potentially violent “resistance” to Israel, and calling for “anti-normalization” – an insistence that
no dialogue can be held with individuals or groups who/which identify with Zionism.”
In an October 20, 2015 letter to The Daily Free Press, a Boston University newspaper, the BU chapter of SJP condemned BU Students for Israel and Hillel for holding a “Vigil for Victims of Terrorism.” The letter stated that the vigil was co-hosted by the Israel Campus Roundtable, Zionists of America, StandWithUs, Hasbara Fellowships, The David Project, the National Hillel organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel, asserting:
“The presence of these organizations is both alienating to Palestinians on campus and divisive to the greater BU community…
A November 23, 2015 post by the BU SJP stated “These are just some of the wonderful people who make up Boston Students for Justice in Palestine.” Samirah is in the front row.
An April 19, 2016 article in the BU newspaper The Daily Free Press described Samirah’s leading role protesting a celebration of Israel’s independence, held by BU Hillel and BU Students for Israel as part of Israel Peace Week (Israel Independence Day commemorates the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948):
“…Protesters chanted slogans and carried banners that criticized Israel and actions related to Israel Independence Day.
‘Viva, viva Palestina!’ protesters chanted. ‘Free, free Palestine! No more war crimes!’…
…’Resistance is justified when people are occupied,’ the protesters chanted by Marsh Plaza while hoisting banners that read ‘1948: One Nation’s Independence, Another’s Catastrophe’ and ‘Free Palestine. Free Gaza. End the Occupation Now.’
Ibraheem Samirah, a member of the BU SJP and one of the protesters, said the celebration used ‘fun things to cover up very horrible, terrible crimes against humanity,’ and he claimed that the festival is offensive to Palestinians.
‘They are blindly supporting Israel, so we came to expose that reality,’ Samirah, a third-year doctoral student at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, said following the protest. ‘On top of that, we came to expose the reality internationally for the Palestinian people living under occupation, as related to us here at BU.’
Samirah said he was one of the students who were removed from the BU Hillel gathering ‘All Students, All Israel Think Tank’ on Jan. 28, and the incident partially led to the protest….
…Members of the protest provided The Daily Free Press with a pamphlet entitled ‘Is Boston University Hillel Islamophobic?’ which claims that BU Hillel backs Islamophobic beliefs.
‘One of several prime examples of BU Hillel’s Islamophobic connection is vis a vis … [Committee for Accuracy on Middle East Reporting], a known Islamophobic organization … that plans events through [BU’s] campus,’ the pamphlet stated, citing a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Taking cognizance of BU Hillel’s connection to CAMERA, Samirah said the Israel Indie Festival is embedded with Islamophobia and covers up the Palestinian people’s struggles.
‘We came to this event because it exposes that reality, particularly with its co-sponsors,’ Samirah said. ‘We will protest every single time they do an event of this nature.’ “
An April 2, 2017 profile of Samirah, published shortly before his graduation from dental school, emphasized his activism in BDS groups:
” Ibraheem Samirah (SDM, ’17) is an active member in BU SJP (Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine). He’s finishing up his dental degree and now is wondering where to take his life, and what to do with his activism. Currently, he participates in a local campaign to boycott HP products and works with SJP at a local, regional and national level.”
Mass Against HP
When he was at Boston University, Samirah was a founder of the BDS campaign “Mass Against HP,” launched May 19, 2016 with the release of their report “Apartheid Technology.” Samirah was the primary contact listed for the launch event. His press release called for
” local and state governments to end contracts with Hewlett-Packard (HP). Speakers introduced a newly-released report entitled ‘Apartheid Technology,’ and detailed the company’s role in maintaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine, U.S. deportation of immigrants, mass incarceration, and global militarization.”
A February 5, 2017 event for the Mass Against HP campaign featured a photo of Samirah with a sign stating “I boycott HP because from Boston to the Middle East Palestinians and Syrians should be FREE and MA should too!”
In 2016, many states had passed or were debating anti-BDS bills that would prevent contracting with businesses that boycotted Israel. An anti-BDS amendment in the Massachusetts legislature was withdrawn on July 14, 2016. The amendment reportedly had been supported by Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council and other anti-BDS groups. Samirah, representing Mass Against HP, was quoted commenting on the defeat of the anti-BDS amendment in Electronic Intifada:
“Meanwhile, local activists are using the momentum of this victory to expand their boycott campaigns.
Ibraheem Samirah of the coalition member group Mass Against HP, which is urging the state to end its contracts with Hewlett-Packard over the company’s profiteering from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, said that the victory over the anti-BDS bill means that ‘there is more room’ for his group to engage with local and state legislators than previously thought.
‘We now know more clearly where our routes [for political pressure] are,’ he said.”
Samirah’s work for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
After graduation from Boston University, Samirah expanded his anti-BDS work to the political arena in the 2018 election year. In particular, he worked for the campaign of BDS supporter Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
Within a month after Rep. Tlaib was elected, she announced “I personally support the BDS movement.” On August 14, 2018 after she was nominated, then-candidate Tlaib stated her advocacy of the “one-state solution” for the Middle East.
Samirah was already working for her, as he posted on Facebook on August 7, 2018 showing him passing out her campaign literature.
On October 12, he stated “I was so proud to help with her GOTV efforts!”
On January 4, 2019, Samirah linked his work on Tlaib’s campaign with his own campaign for the 86th district, stating:
“Yesterday I was blessed to witness a powerful woman, with a background very similar to mine, someone brought up by Palestinian immigrants, hard workers, and the eldest of her siblings, become one of 2-first ever Muslim congresswomen.
Here I am thinking how inspiring it is to have worked on Congresswoman Rashida’s campaign and then to think of myself for a second. On this coming Saturday, January 12, I will hopefully be the youngest Muslim to ever win a Democratic party nomination in Virginia’s history. Some have been saying the youngest Muslim ever in all of the US’s history! These are milestones that not just US Muslims will be proud of, but everyday Virginians, Americans as well. When a marginalized group is lifted by any society, all of it’s [sic] greater society is advanced as well. I want to improve the quality of life of everyone, and I pray that I will be able to utilize my expertise with transportation, healthcare and education to do just that.”
Samirah didn’t just work on Tlaib’s campaign – he claimed that he took charge of her GOTV (Get Out The Vote) effort.
In late November 2018, three weeks after Samirah had begun his candidacy for the 86th district, he was a featured speaker at the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) Annual Conference. In 2016, the AMP was described in congressional testimony as “a leading driver of the BDS campaign.”
In his speaker’s biography for this November 22-24 2018 Palestine Conference, Samirah claims that he “took charge of GOTV [Get Out The Vote] efforts for the soon-to-be first Muslim American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.”