- Anti-Israel lecturer on college campuses
- Contends that the American media are biased have a pro-Israel bias
- Accuses Israel of committing human-rights violations against Palestinians
Born in the West Bank town of Nablus, Rania Awwad is an Arab-American who once worked as a Palestine Red Cross/Red Crescent paramedic. She holds a PhD in genetics from George Washington University. After the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, Awwad became an outspoken critic of Israel. Vilifying the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank as an egregious human-rights violation, she depicted the violent Palestinian uprising as a series of mostly “peaceful demonstrations” conducted by innocent Arabs who were merely resisting Israeli oppression. The term “Intifada,” she explained, “comes from an Arabic word signifying a ‘shaking up’ or ‘shaking off.’ And the Palestinian Intifada has lived up to this meaning by shaking off the Israeli occupation…”
From her position as the Washington, DC regional coordinator for the anti-Israel media-monitoring group, Palestine Media Watch (PMW), Awwad accused the American press of exhibiting widespread bias against Palestinians as a result of the machinations of a powerful Israeli lobby supporting a racist Israeli state. One of Awwad’s duties at PMW was to teach sympathizers how to incorporate effective talking points into their own letters to political figures and newspaper op-ed departments.
In October 2002, Awwad penned an article titled “Ethnic Cleansing by Starvation,” which appeared in The Socialist Viewpoint. In that piece, Awwad blamed Israel for the fact that “one in five Palestinian children under the age of five now suffers from chronic or acute malnutrition” – which she said “actually surpasses rates of child malnutrition in Somalia and Bangladesh.” By presiding over “the slow starvation of a whole population,” said Awwad, Israel was guilty of nothing less than “the muffled ethnic cleansing of a whole people.” She depicted this “man-made disaster” as an Israeli campaign of “collective punishment” that was intended “to depopulate as much as possible the Occupied Palestinian Territories by making life for its citizens unbearable.” She charged that “Israeli military sieges are literally imprisoning families within their homes for days at a time,” rendering them unable to go to work, go shopping, visit a doctor, or send their children to school. When Awwad condemned “military checkpoints and roadblocks” for “restricting commerce and the transport of food supplies,” she failed to mention that Israel had been forced to implement those security measures in response to the ceaseless waves of terrorist attacks which Palestinians had carried out in civilian locations.
In April 2002, Awwad lamented the “humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions” that Israel was creating by way of its “comprehensive war against the Palestinian people.” Among the hallmarks of this “war,” she said, were the following:
- “Movement of health personnel has been restricted.”
- “Pharmacies and clinics have been shut down.”
- “Ambulances have been destroyed.”
- “Access to medical care for critically ill patients has been obstructed.”
- “Medical facilities have been forcibly entered and physicians and nurses have been held hostage away from their patients.”
In 2004, Awwad began speaking out against Israel on college campuses in the United States and started working closely with Huwaida Arraf of the International Solidarity Movement. She was also elected to the steering committee of End the Occupation, a coalition of pro-Palestinian activists. Moreover, she became involved in a negative-publicity/boycott campaign against the Caterpillar Corporation, in retribution for its sales of “home-smashing” bulldozers to the Israeli Defense Forces, which in turn used the equipment to demolish houses and munitions warehouses belonging to Palestinian terrorists. Awwad said:
“Over 50,000 Palestinians have been made homeless by Caterpillar bulldozers. Many Palestinians have been crushed to death while their homes are being demolished. [Caterpillar] profits from the wholesale destruction of Palestinian homes and livelihoods, and U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill.”
From 2002-05, Awwad served on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. A notable fellow-member of this committee was Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies.
According to Awwad, most Arabs favor a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, where Israel and Palestine could live peacefully, side-by-side. The chief obstacles to such a solution, she says, are the intransigence of the Israeli government and the influence that the powerful pro-Israel lobby exerts on Israel’s patron, the U.S. government.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.