Job Is Alive and Well and Being Held At A US Prison.

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The book of Job is considered one of the most important of the 24 books of the Old Testament. Job was a righteous man who, like the Patriarch Abraham, had his faith in the Lord severely tested and like Abraham he came out of the test having proven that his faith and his love for the Lord are complete and unconditional. Chapter one of the Book of Job describes a man blessed with children, livestock and property and whose belief and love of the Lord is beyond reproach. By the end of the chapter he has lost everything, including his beloved children, yet all he says is: “the Lord giveth and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” and the author makes the point that Job refrained from sin and did not blaspheme or curse the Lord.

Job’s greatness is not only that he was able withstand all that had befallen him, but that his faith and his love of God remained unshaken. He was remarkable because his faith was unconditional.  One may wonder if there might be people like this today? Are there people who can withstand such horrors as Job and still maintain a pure heart and a solid, unconditional belief in the Almighty? Probably not. At least this is what I thought until I began to communicate with Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi and Mufid Abdulkader, three of the five men involved in the Holy Land Foundation case, (HLF 5).  In a previous piece I brought a segment written by Mufid Abdukader where he describes their transfer from prison at Seagoville, Texas to CMUs, or Communication Management Units, one of the more diabolical inventions of the US Bureau of Prisons, or maybe it was the Justice Department.

Here is yet another segment from Mufid’s account.

“Before we got on the bus, they checked our files and names and numbers and gave us a lunch bag of meat sandwich with water & crackers.  After all inmates were seated, the trip started and we had no idea where we were going but at least we were finally out of Seagoville Detention Center.  While on the highway, you see the outside free world for the first time in a long time, you see the billboards and you see the green grass on the sides of the highway & people driving going about their business just like we used to do.  After a while, the bus stopped somewhere in Texas and the driver and guards got off the bus to eat lunch.  With our black box over our cuffs, we tried to eat our lunch but it was extremely hard.  Shukri and I were sitting next to each other and we were helping each other eat our food and drink water.  If you happen to need to use the bathroom, then you go to the back of the bus to relief yourself while still handcuffed.  That’s why I avoided eating or drinking anything beyond necessities to avoid using the restroom.  The trip continued for approx. 4 hours and we finally arrived at another prison in Texarkana Texas.  They took us inside the prison where they removed all the chains and handcuffs and gave us some food and then took us to another Special Housing Unit (SHU) (we are special).  This one even much worse than the Seagoville SMU.  The cells in this SHU are really very very small with three beds on top of each other with only 18 inches of separation between the beds.  There is no room to move around.  Ghassan and I could not even stand next to each other to pray.  We almost can hear each others breathing.  We were so tired that we finally went to sleep.  It was a night to remember.

Around 3:00 AM they woke us up and said it’s time to go.  We were handcuffed again and receivd the special black box treatment along with handcuffs for the legs and chains, hand & waist chains and a lock.  Before we got on the bus Elmezain asked one of the guards for his medication & the guard just could not understand why Elmezain needs his medicine and went off screaming at him.  After a while we were taken to the bus and another trip of pain was about to start.  Now we anticipated were going to Oklahoma City.”

“My Trip from Seagoville To USP Marion Part 2 of 5

This segment will describe the trip to Oklahoma City:”

“Today is Friday April 25, 2010.  We were still in Texarkana Prison preparing to head toward Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Oklahoma City is a transfer/holding Prison Center for all inmates from around the United States. It holds over 5,000 inmates and it is a a hub where all inmates are flown in/out or bussed in/out to be transferred to their designated prison where they were assigned to serve their sentences.  Some are transferred from oner prison to another (for example from a High to medium security, medium to a low security prison ..etc).”

“We were getting shackled, handcuffed.  Again we were the privileged ones who received the black box special treatment.  Other inmates were also shackled and handcuffed but not with the black box.  You must be very special to receive that special gift from the Bureau Of Prisons (BOP).  Once the shakeling, chaining and handcuffing of all inmates was done, we were taken outside the Texarkana Prison and escorted to the bus like a herd of goats.  It was still very dark outside (around 4:00 AM or so).  We were first inline and also first seated in the bus (the 4 of us together).  After everyone else was seated, the trip started.”

“After the bus left the prison, it took a route of small roads & State Highways to Oklahoma City.  I have tried to stay awake so I would not void my Wudu (wudu is the mandatory act of washing hands, face, arms & legs prior to performing prayer).  I made wudu before we left the SHU in Texarkana.  I pushed myself hard to stay awake because I was worried that If I dosed off that I would end up voiding my wudu and having to do it again specially when there was no water on the bus.  Only a jug with some cups for drinking water.  And even if water was available, how will I make wudu with my hands and legs shakeled & handcuffed with the black box?  I can’t even move.  It is an impossible mission.  So I might as well make tayamom (this an alternate option when water is not available, Tayomom is a dry ablution).  Eventually, I ended up making tayamom.  I knew these are the times when Allah gave us permission for an exception under these difficult circumstance.  So now I had wudu and ready for Fajr prayer.  I knew that Fajr prayer Athan was at 5:45 AM in Seagoville Texas & even though we were not there, I figured it would not be that different from where we were.  But the question; what time was it now? I guessed that it was not time for Fajr just by looking on the outside I seeing it was very dark.  No one had a watch.  The only solution was to keep looking outside the bus hoping to see one of these big bank panel clocks that tells time and temperature.  So I kept my eye on the outside hoping to see one.  I finally noticed one from a distance & it was a big electronic panel that turns around in all directions.  By the time the bus made it there, the panel was displaying time and temp to the opposite side of the highway and I could not see it.  I have to try again, so I kept watching for another clock and kept my eyes fixed on any panel with lights.  Finally, I saw another bank clock and it showed the time to be 5:30 AM which is still short 15 minutes of prayer time.  After a while I estimated that 15 minutes has passed and made the Fajr Athan (Call for the prayer) inside the bus.  Elmezain and Ghassan were seated in front of us and Shukri and I were sitting in the seat right behind them.  We prayed the 2 rakka sunna and then I made iqama for the prayer and Elmezain lead the prayer as we were seated.  We started the prayer and brother Elmezain recited beuatiful Quran of Surat Alisra.  Our ruku was to bend our bodies just a little bit toward the seat and our sujood was to bend until our forehead touch the seat in front of us.”

“We prayed what I call the most heartfelt tearful prayer ever in my entire life.  Considering myself a political prisoner and praying under these conditions, you really feel the connection with Allah.  It was an overwhelming feeling that put you in a different world. It intensified my duaa.  It was Friday and I did all the things I normally do on Friday by reading Surat Alkahf as the Prophet Peace be Upon him has told us to do.  Also I made my daily morning remembrance of Allah duaas(Thikhr) and praising Prphet Mohammad Peace Be Upon him.”

“After that I tried to sleep in my seat but no matter which position I try to take or lay in, it was impossible to do with the black box.  I could not move my hands & the movement of the legs was also very painful specially when the legs’ handcuffs touches the ankle as it scrapes the funny bone above the ankle.  The handcuffs around the legs were extremely tight which caused extreme pain.  I tried to move to another empty seat but was afraid if I lay down it will be impossible for me to get up without help.  Finally I managed to take my shoes off and slung them backward with my feet toward me.  I managed to place and stack the shoes against the edge of the seat and use them as a pillow (I lost 61 pounds (28 kg) since I have been in prison and it was a major factor in helping me do that athletic maneuver).  I laid down my head on the shoes and I tried to go to sleep.  Half of my body was in the seat and the other half was hanging outside the seat.  I tried to stretch my legs but the seat was too short.  I could extend my legs to the next seat as a bridge to ensure my whole body is laid down, but this would block the pathway between the seats.  This pathway used by other inmates to move within the bus including going to/from the bathroom at the back of the bus.  Finally I settled down in my sleeping position by placing my feet on top of the seat in front of me at an angle, laying on my side with my head on my pillow (my shoes).  I do not recall how long I slept.  I was too tired and exhausted.  Shukri, Ghassan and Elmezain slumped in their seats and went to sleep as well.  After a while, I awoke and found someone has already moved in the seat in front of me.”

“The sun was rising announcing the birth of a new day.  I looked at this day as a new beginning, a new start with a fresh brand new 24 hours life.  I was determined that I would make the most out of it. I have been dealt with unjustly with a sentence of 20 years for volunteering to help Palestininan destitute children and families.  Yes, I was a volunteer and never an empolyee of the HLF.  By volunteering, I realized that my mission is to serve others & contribute to making this world a better place.  I LOVE and LIVE TO GIVE.  IT IS THE MOST FULFILLING LIFE EVER. ABSOLUTLEY NO REGRETS.  I know that Allah has wisdom behind the test I am going thru & I trusted him always in every aspect of my life and it is no different now.  I really thought that true faith shines at times of difficulties because at time of ease everyone is faithful and life is good and there are no worries or concerns.  Yes, even though I am being taken far away from my beloved family.”

“Every event in our life has a purpose and every setback its lesson.  I have realized that adversity, whether personal, professional, is essential in personal expansion.  It brings inner growth and a whole host of rewards.  Never regret your past.  Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is.  I know that Allah SWT is rewarding my family for what they are going through as well.  I am not the only one being rewarded for this suffering, my family is sharing in the rewards.  I am not alone in this trip, my family is riding with me every step of the way.  They are always in my heart and soul.  Their image never leaves my mind.  My family is also being deprived as my daughter Sarah told me that there is a big empty space in our house and an eerie feeling because I am not there.  She told me that they miss my laughter, hearing my voice, my physical presence when they were used to seeing me walk thru the door.  They miss having dinner with me.  They miss me helping them with homework.  They missed my presence at the milestones events of their lives when they graduated from University and High School.  They miss the father they love and the husband who is not there to help and support them.

Life is not easy when all the responsibilities are assigned to one person (my beloved wife) to take care of all household affairs when we both shared this responsibility and it was still difficult to do.  At the end of the day, that assuring, dependable father who used to give Nadia (my 10 year old daughter) her good night kiss and tuck her in her bed and sing to her before she goes to sleep was not there.  All these and more are missing not becuase her father was a drug dealer or robbed a bank or killed someone.  No, no, it is because he helped feed Palestinian children, woman, the elderly, and provided Ramadan food packages (rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, ..etc) and meat Udhiya at Eid Aladha to people who feel they are lucky if they have meat once a month. Provided shelters to Plaestininans whose homes were destroyed by F-16 bombers.  Also dared to give kids school packbacks, shoes, books, and clothes so they can go to school.”

“Yes, this charity work was a life line for so many desperate Palestinian families.  Every night I wake up hearing the voices of duaa of these Palestininan Children and I feel it in my heart, in my soul and in my spirit, and it gives me great inner peace.  This charity work was saving the lives of the same Palestininans whom the whole world has ignored.  Our work was the manifestation of that Islam is: Charity.”

“It has been close to 3 hours of painful tight shackeling handcuffing….”

As I was writing this, I shared the story of Job with my kids, and then told them a little about the contents of this piece. Even to them, the association was clear. I am not a believer, but if there is a God out there, I am certain he is proud of these men, these dedicated believers.

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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

Shukri Abu Baker, on The General’s Son.

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About a year ago I was invited to speak in Texas by a local branch of Students for Justice in Palestine. After my lecture I had the opportunity to speak to some of the student activists and it so happened that several of them were the daughters of the HLF 5. Five men who were accused and convicted with providing material aid to Hamas.  In a previous article I talk at length about the case

https://mikopeled.com/2012/12/23/israels-invasion-of-us-justice-by-miko-peled/

and I will continue to bring accounts from three of the men, with whom I have been in touch for almost a year. Shukri was the first one which whom I was able to communicate, first by email and then by phone.

Shukri had received my book and read it, and then he sent me the following email with his thoughts about The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Mind you, this was written by a Palestinian serving a 65 year sentence for a crime which most people who are familiar with the case, including myself are convinced he did not commit. He (and the other four) is in prison based on testimony given by two anonymous Israeli Intelligence officers.  Had he not been a Muslim and a Palestinian, and therefor a victim of  Israeli persecution, it is very likely that he would not have been in prison. Yet, here he is reading and commenting on a book written by an Israeli, son of an Israeli general.

Here is Shukri Abu Baker’s review of my book:

Miko,

I have finished the book and I’m really impressed. Congratulations, Miko. Your work is a must read for everyone that wants to learn how to explore the truth and become an active agent of change. I have learned so much in the way of human potential and historical facts.

I have just finished e-mailing my daughter who asked me about the book and I strongly recommended that she reads it. She herself has been trying to write her own memoir because she has got such an inspiring story to tell. We’ll talk more about her later on, perhaps during your visit, Insha’Allah. You said you have not read Dr. Victor Frankl book. I think you should.  What struck me is the resemblance between your ethical stance and his. You mentioned in your book how appalled you were to see the soldiers trample though the cultivated lands of a Palestinian village.  Dr. Frankl mentions in his book a very similar incidence. A group of freshly freed prisoners had just charged out of the concentration camp and swarmed through the cultivated lands of a village destroying the crops. When he vehemently objected to this behavior they argued that what they’ve done was hardly a fair revenge for what has been done to them. In his book the Dr. expressed concern about the consequences of victim mentality that has the tendency to turn the oppressed into an oppressor. He warned about immorality that comes with vengeance, especially when victims believe that they are entitled to. For a minute I thought he was addressing the Israeli occupation. Your book brought people closer together. As you were taking the readers from one spot to another, from one adventure to another, I was wishing I were there with you. Unfortunately most of your activities, especially the charitable ones were taking place at a time I was in trial or in prison.

You have accurately pictured the Palestinians in the most realistic terms. Not Angels without sins and not heroes without fears. I wish you were able to get to Gaza. Perhaps in the near future because without Gaza your trekking in the troubled life of the Palestinians will be incomplete. Gaza is a perpetual crime against humanity.  A non-stop grinding of innocent souls. A torment that enlivens nothing but the prospect of death among, as you said, the most literate and industrious people in the region. I loved the fact that you put so much soul in charitable work and that puts the two of us in the same territory.  You had been briefly punished by your countrymen for your acts of charity and I have received a sentence tantamount to life simply because I refused to punish children for the alleged crimes of their parents and refused to assassinate hope in the hearts of young Palestinians. All that they had, outside what occupation had to offer them, was hope for a better life, a normal life, a life your son Eitan and my daughter Nisa want to lead.

Yet it has become punishable by law to inspire the underprivileged to dare to dream of a bigger and a better world beyond the suffocation sphere of occupation.

I breathed easier when I learned about your wheelchair operation because one of the last project we, at the HLF, had completed just before we were shut down for good was a similar project in the West Bank and Gaza. As I recall they were over 1,200 wheelchairs all together. We had also supplied local hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza with 10 modern ambulances in coordination with Dr. Salim Zanoun, the health minister of the PNA at the time.

Thank you for bringing comfort to the hearts of Palestinian and Israeli children and thank you for offering hope that, otherwise, was meant to be buried along with the 13 years old Smadar and the 10 years old Abir. In some spots, your stories made my eyes brim, others gave me the chills and others made me laugh.  But I’m very happy and honored to have come to know you and what you have to offer to humanity.

Great job, Miko. Ahlan wa sahlan to my heart, habibi.

Your Falastini sudique,

Shukri

LEAVE IRAN ALONE!

Why is it that every time a President, Vice President, Prime Minister or anyone else speaks to Jewish audiences in America they talk about the US attacking Iran. The latest such folly was Joe Biden at the at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly (international body of about 1,600 Conservative rabbis) in Atlanta, Georgia. Biden said that the United States understands that the Israeli leadership sees Iran as an existential threat.

What is it about this that he understand exactly? Why does everyone think that Jewish people can’t sleep at night unless the promise of annihilating Iran is whispered in their ears?  One of the worst things that happened to American Jewish community is that they became Zionist and thus lost their Jewishness.  What issue do Jewish people in this country, or any country for that matter have with Iran that they need to constantly be told the US may bomb Iran?  Zionism has turned Jews into lackeys of the state of Israel and in the past Israel had implicated entire Jewish communities with being Zionist and in Arab Jewish communities this had disastrous effects.

One might ask the American Zionist Jewish leadership what they think will happen when Americans finally become fed up with Israel, as they became fed up with South Vietnam.  People who are old enough to remember President Gerald Ford, may remember that he promised that the US will never forsake its great ally in Southeast Asia.  And yet, in December 1974, when North Vietnamese forces invaded the province of Phuoc Long President Gerald Ford requested aid for South Vietnam in a $522 million aid package.  These funds had already been promised by the Nixon administration but Congress voted against the proposal by a wide margin. Senator Jacob Javits said “…large sums for evacuation, but not one nickel for military aid.” Today South Vietnam no longer exists.

The Iran issue is placing the Jewish community in America on the wrong side of an issue in which they should have no part.  Israel and the US are colluding to hide Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and Iran is the smoke screen. Never mind that 74 million Iranians who hurt no one and attacked no one need to live in fear of an impending attack and suffer deprivations from sanctions imposed on them for no good reason.

The notion of an Iranian threat is as absurd as the threat of Iraq’s WMD.  Going along with Israel’s madness and placing Iran and Iranians in this predicament is shortsighted. For the American Jewish community this shortsightedness may come at a heavy price.