Born in Ohio in 1966, Stephen J. Sosebee graduated from Kent State University in 1988 and subsequently took a job as a journalist in the West Bank for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. A convert to Islam, Sosebee founded the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund in 1991 and has been its president and CEO ever since. He consistently depicts Israel as a nation guilty of egregious human-rights violations against the Palestinian people, who, by his reckoning, fervently desire peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state but have been forced to engage in “armed struggle” as a last-resort measure of self-defense. Sosebee further contends that America’s government, media, and citizenry are routinely manipulated by a duplicitous and influential “Zionist lobby.” He has articulated his anti-Israel message as a lecturer at the Zayed International Centre for Coordination and Follow-up, and as a speaker at numerous universities and political “solidarity meetings.”
In a March 1991 piece in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA), Sosebee described Gaza as a territory that had been decimated by a torrent of Israeli abuses. “This generation’s [Palestinian] grandparents lost their homes and land in Palestine,” he said. “Their fathers who openly resisted became humiliated laborers under occupation, most of them at one time or another injured, imprisoned, deported or martyred.” Moreover, Sosebee accused Israel of perpetrating “gas” attacks, “night raids,” “beatings,” unwarranted “deportations,” and “massacres” against the Palestinian people. Rationalizing Palestinian suicide bombings and terror attacks as understandable reactions to Israeli transgressions, he stated: “The [Palestinian] youths know there is no justice, so they plan their own revenge.”
In the fall of 1994 Sosebee published an article in WRMEA celebrating PLO leader Yasser Arafat‘s “historic return” to Gaza, after nearly three decades in exile. He lauded Arafat as a man who had nobly “devoted his life to regaining for the Palestinian people” the “homeland” that, by Sosebee’s telling, had been stolen from them.
On March 17, 2001 at the University of Michigan, Sosebee spoke on behalf of PCRF at a “Conference on Palestine.” This gathering was co-sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Global Relief Foundation, the International Action Center, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and others. Also speaking at the event was Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director. The conference began with the screening of a video entitled “The New Uprising,” a reference to the recently launched Second Palestinian Intifada against Israel.
In May 2002, nearly two years after Yasser Arafat had famously rejected the Israeli and American offer for a settlement of hostilities in the Camp David peace negotiations, Sosebee blamed Israel entirely for the ongoing tensions in the Middle East: “The Palestinians were never offered anything that would provide a viable independent state and a final solution to the core issues of occupation, refugees, resources and Jerusalem. Arafat rejected an offer that any other leader with an ounce of dignity and respect for his people would have turned down…. It was merely a repackaging of military occupation, not an end to it.”
In May 2002 as well, Sosebee represented PCRF at an anti-war rally held at Kent State University. Other organizations with a presence at this event included the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, the youth wing of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
In addition to his work with PCRF, Sosebee has also been affiliated with Al-Awda. (a.k.a. The Palestine Right to Return Coalition), which seeks to promote the dissolution of Israel and accuses the Jewish state of perpetrating human-rights violations, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.
Sosebee avidly supports the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative that aims to use various forms of public protest, economic pressure, and court rulings to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state.
In the summer of 2014, Sosebee and PCRF organized a project that gave cameras to children living in the Tulkarm refugee camp in the West Bank and instructed them to record a wide variety of moments in their daily lives. The objective of this campaign was to collect a large number of images that would evoke sympathy for the Palestinian people, and would spark outrage at the abuses allegedly perpetrated by Israel. The pictures were eventually displayed at Gulf Photo Plus, a Dubai-based photography gallery, in a show titled Children of Palestine: Beyond Numbers. The gallery’s co-director, Hala Salhi, said of the Sosebee/PCRF project: “Palestinian children live under extreme conditions of an occupation. They have witnessed the horrors of many wars … This summer, they had a chance to escape, to have fun and tell their stories with a camera.”
Further Reading: “Recruiting for Jihad” (by Joe Kaufman, FrontPageMag.com, 6-16-2003); “The Burial of Su’ad Hamdan Saqer” (by Stephen Sosebee, WRMEA, March 1991); “Yasser Arafat’s Return: New Beginning for Palestine” (by Stephen Sosebee, WRMEA, Sep/Oct 1994); “Camp David Only Enlarged Palestinian Prison” (by Stephen Sosebee, 5-9-2002); “Life in a War Zone Seen Through the Eyes of a Child” (The National, 10-22-2014).