Israel’s Invasion of US Justice, By Miko Peled

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In an interview on Sixty Minutes with Bob Simon, Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren made a chilling remark, the significance of which must not be overlooked. The interview was shown at the end of a report by Bob Simon on the situation of Christians in the Holy Land.  Apparently when the ambassador heard about the report being made he called the Chairman of CBS and complained that his sources told him the report was going to be a “hatchet job.” At the end of the report Simon said to the Ambassador that he had never had anyone react to a story before it was even aired and before anyone had a chance to view it. The Israeli ambassador seemed taken aback for a second or two, but then he collected himself, and replied: “Well Bob, there’s a first time for everything.”

Israeli influence on American life and politics is not new and it has been well documented.  From American politics to economic issues, to issues of foreign policy and national security Israel’s influence has shown its marks everywhere. Now, Israel’s influence has infiltrated the “holy of holies” of American democracy, the judicial system. As the ambassador said, “There is a first time for everything.”
The case of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF)is one in which five Palestinian American Muslims were convicted and sentenced in a US court to decades behind bars based on questionable testimony by two anonymous Israeli intelligence officers. This case demonstrates the invasive nature of Israeli influence on American courts.  The HLF, at one time the largest Muslim charity in the US was accused of providing “material support to Hamas,” a bewildering accusation to say the least. HLF provided much needed charity to Palestinians by raising funds to provide orphans and widows with food packages, school supplies, scholarships and small stipends. They also contributed to building libraries and hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli authorities began a campaign against HLF in the 1990’s and their agents in the US, namely the ADL began its campaign against the HLF in 1993. The Israeli authorities closed down the HLF office in Jerusalem and arrested the local director, a Palestinian from Jerusalem.  He was interrogated by the Israeli police, and the internal security service (Shabak). He was asked repeatedly if the organization has ties to Hamas and if moneys were given particularly to orphans whose fathers were members of Hamas. He repeatedly claimed that HLF was not affiliated to Hamas, and that all recipients had to go through the same screening process by social workers who determined if they qualified for aid. He showed that HLF did not in any way favor the orphans of Hamas or any other political or religious group.
With Mufid Abdulqader in federal prison, Terre Haute, Indiana
With Mufid Abdulqader in federal prison, Terre Haute, Indiana
Israel skillfully manipulated the anti Arab and anti Muslim hysteria that took hold over America post 9/11 to pursue its campaign against HLF in the US.  And indeed in 2002 the WSJ quoted Presidnet George Bush, who gladly served Israeli interests in this regard saying:
“The facts are clear,” Mr. Bush declared. “The terrorists benefit from the Holy Land Foundation, and we’re not going to allow it. … Money raised by the Holy Land Foundation is used by Hamas to support schools and indoctrinate children to grow up into suicide bombers [and] to recruit suicide bombers and support their families.”
None of the things Bush said constitute clear facts, nor were they true.
Still, the Holy Land Foundation offices were placed under watch by the FBI, its main officers’ phones were tapped, their meetings recorded and a case was built against them. In 2007 a trial took place ending in an acquittal on most counts but the jury remained hung on a few of the charges. The judge declared a mistrial and a year later, in 2008, convictions with unprecedented long sentenced were meted out to the defendants.  One juror said: “If they had been a Christian or Jewish group, I don’t think [prosecutors] would have brought charges against them.”

The justice department congratulated itself on a job well done in a piece on the FBI website declaring that this was the largest terrorism financing prosecution in US history.

The Israeli Internal Security Service, the Shabak, posted on its website that one of two Israelis that testified in the HLF trial that brought town a terror financing organization, was an employee of the Shabak and that his testimony played a crucial role in the bringing convictions.

http://www.shabak.gov.il/publications/publications/pages/020609.aspx

In 2009 officers and volunteers of HLF, who became known as the HLF 5 were given unprecedented sentences for “funneling $12 million to Hamas.” $12 million is a laughable amount that only serves to demonstrate the absurdity of the accusations and the modesty of the HLF operations. In a discussion I had in Jerusalem where I described the jail sentences the HLF 5 received I got looks of disbelief.  One Muslim leader who was present and was familiar with the HLF and with Hamas finally commented: “HLF was so small, how can anyone think it had any impact on Hamas?” Indeed.

In an affidavit prepared by Israeli attorney Lea Tsemel it was made clear that Israeli security officers regularly lie in court in order to get convictions. In an interview to Israeli press, retired chief interrogator of the Shabak admitted this too. “The security officers know that an Israeli judge will always believe their testimony over that of an Arab.” he said. Now this is true of judges in the US as well. As the ambassador said: “There is a first time for everything.”

After being found guilty in the second trial, Mufid Aabdulkader, Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammad El Mezaine and Abdulrahman Odeh were immediately sent to Federal prison in Seagoville, Texas (this was November 24, 2008).  Judge Jorge A. Solis who  presided would not let them stay out until sentencing.  He told all defendants they had 5 minutes to say goodbye to their families.  “The judge said we would have to choose 3 people from each family to say goodbye, because there were too many people.  I let my three daughters say goodbye, so I did not even get to tell Mufid goodbye.  It would not have taken that long if the judge had let us all say goodbye, perhaps 10 minutes.” Diana Abdukader, Mufid’s wife told me.

Sentencing took place on May 27, 2009.  The prosecution tried to have the five men moved immediately to CMUs, (communication Management Units, also called “Guantanamo North) but the families fought to have them stay at Seagoville where they could be close to their families.  They were successful at keeping them there until April 22, 2010, when all but one were moved to the CMUs in Marion, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana.  Abdulrahman Odeh, went to general population prison at FCI Victorville in Adelanto, CA.  Mufid and Ghassan were sent to Marion CMU, while Mohammad El-Mezzeine and Shukri Abu Baker were sent to the CMU in Terre Haute Indiana.
With Abdulrahman Odeh in Federal Prison, Beaumont, Texas
With Abdulrahman Odeh in Federal Prison, Beaumont, Texas
Israel is on a mission to destroy Palestine and its people, and as part of that mission Israel holds thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in its jails.  This is not new nor should it come as any surprise to anyone. But the Israeli invasion of US politics, media, national security and foreign policy all started at a point when someone said, “There is a first time for everything.”  The entire story of the HLF-5 will be published in book I mean to publish in 2017.
Miko Peled