* National student organizer and leader of the Palestine Solidarity Movement
* Leader in the Wisconsin chapter of Al Awda
* Has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
* Supports divestment from Israel, which he characterizes as an apartheid state
Born in Jenin, Palestine in 1980, and currently based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fayyad Sbaihat is the national student organizer and leader of the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), which is the campus arm of the International Solidarity Movement in the United States. True to the spirit of these two organizations, Sbaihat has organized – at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada – conferences advocating divestment from Israel and promoting the dismantling of the Jewish state.
Sbaihat co-founded the Alternative Palestinian Agenda at his Wisconsin campus along with fellow Palestinian activists Mohammed Abed and Nasser Abufara. He is also a leader in the Wisconsin chapter of Al Awda (“The Return”), whose national organization advocates the destruction of Israel in its motto: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Al Awda calls for the right of 5 million Arabs to return to the Israeli homes that 600,000 of them vacated in 1948, during the war which began when five Arab armies attacked Israel on the very day of its creation. (For a detailed history and analysis of the refugee problem see Big Lies: Demolishing the Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel, by David Meir-Levi, October 2005). The seemingly benign request for a “right of return” is in fact a veiled attempt to destroy the state of Israel. Palestinian authorities place the number of Arabs who ought to be granted a “right of return” to Israel at 5 million. This is more than ten times the number of Arabs who actually left the Jewish portions of the British Mandate in 1948, most of whom are now deceased. The incorporation of five million Arabs into Israel would render the Jews a permanent minority in their own country, and would thus spell the end of Israel. The Arabs fully understand this, and that is why they have made it a fundamental demand.
As of this writing (October 2005), Sbaihat has described himself as a University of Wisconsin senior in chemical engineering for the past three years. During that time, he has been able to jet all over the United States and Canada as the primary organizer of anti-Israel divestment conferences such as those staged at Duke University, Ohio State University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Michigan.
Israeli security sources have stated that Sbiahat’s entire family are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist organization classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department. The former head of Israel’s Shin Bet security services, Avi Dichter, has confirmed privately that both of Fayyad Sbaihat’s brothers, Laith and Mohammed, are active members of the PFLP. The PFLP is the Marxist wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and is largely controlled by the fascist Ba’ath Party in Syria.
Fayyad Sbaihat leads a PFLP-oriented movement that gives lip service to a “peace” settlement but insists that the Palestinians’ “right of return” is non-negotiable. Though Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that does not practice apartheid, Sbaihat nonetheless characterizes it as an apartheid state like the former South Africa. He uses this false portrayal to justify his calls for students in the U.S. to boycott Israel until the latter is destabilized and overrun by an Arab majority exercising its “right to return.”
The PFLP is primarily led by Palestinian Christians whose chief objectives are not religious but communist and Marxist. Its leaders in the U.S., like Yale professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, also of Al Awda, claim to be anti-nationalists but are in fact pan-Arab nationalists and communists who want to see Israel destroyed. Qumsiyeh is a featured speaker at Sbaihat’s PSM conferences. Other featured speakers have included Sami al-Arian, who is currently in federal lockup as the North American leader of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad.
Sbaihat claims to hail from a small village on the outskirts of Jenin in the West Bank, where, during his youth, he often threw rocks at Israeli soldiers. In an interview that appeared in the radical publication The Isthmus, one of Sbiahat’s neighbors described him as a young man who could barely speak English when he arrived to attend the University of Wisconsin about four years ago. Yet Sbaihat is identified as the author of a number of well written articles attacking Israel in the campus newspaper, the Badger Herald. They excuse Palestinian terrorism and call for the destruction of Israel by any means necessary. In one article, Sbaihat blamed Israel and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for a Palestinian suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus that killed eleven people. “The bombing of the bus,” Sbairat wrote, “was an expected and desired [by Sharon] outcome of the Gaza incursion, and the emerging fact is Sharon will soon have as much Israeli blood on his hands as he does Palestinian.”
Apparently well coached by media advisors in the PLO, Sbaihat contends that the Palestine Solidarity Movement which he heads does not necessarily advocate against a two-state solution; that only fringe factions within the organization oppose such a solution; and that some attendees at his PSM conferences actually want Palestinians and Israelis to live as equals in one nation. These assertions, however, are contradicted by the fact that all PSM conference attendees must sign an agreement that the right of return is non-negotiable. Moreover, Sbaihat never condemns terrorism, referring to it in classic ISM parlance as “legitimate resistance.”
Sbaihat has written a booklet titled Your Guide to Campus Divestment, which is designed to aid activists at U.S. colleges in setting up their own divestment and boycott programs against Israel. At the University of Wisconsin, Sbaihat has managed to persuade the Faculty Senate of one branch (the Platteville campus) to vote in favor of divestment from Israel; an employee union of the system has endorsed the divestment plan as well. Sbaihat also heads the Wisconsin Divestment Project, which works tirelessly to get communities, local city councils, and government agencies to boycott and divest from Israel.