Is anti-BDS group Sawtona impersonating Palestinians?

by Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada

Claiming to be a group of Palestinians opposed to the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in the US, an organization calling itself Sawtona – “our voice” in Arabic – has emerged over the last two months.

But the organization does not appear to be what it says it is.

The group first emerged at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) last month when faculty and students were meeting to discuss BDS and support for Palestinians.

It then popped up at City University of New York (CUNY), just ahead of today’s scheduled graduate student council vote on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The group claims to be a voice “from the ground” in Palestine that is dedicated to ending Israel’s occupation. But so far the only objective Sawtona has in fact pursued is to stop BDS, claiming it does more harm than good for Palestinians.

And some evidence – including fraudulent postings on Facebook – cast significant doubt on the group’s central claim that it is run by Palestinians.

Rather, the group would appear to be based in present-day Israel – not Palestinian cities in the occupied West Bank where people representing Sawtona claim to live.

Sawtona has emerged at a moment when Israel has greatly stepped up its efforts to sabotage and attack the BDS movement, including efforts to undermine it by Israeli intelligence agencies.

[read more here]

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