Interview: On Contact with Chris Hedges: The BDS Movement

 

Miko discusses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement with Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chris Hedges. They discuss the global campaign to economically and politically pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, grant equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens and allow Palestinian refuges the right of return to their homes.

To learn more about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) visit: https://bdsmovement.net/

Israel’s Invasion of US Justice, By Miko Peled

holy_land_five_site_merged

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.

shukri

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.

The Pretty Faces of Israeli Apartheid by Miko Peled

If you have not seen the IDF spokesman latest Happy Independence Day video on YouTube than you should, only don’t eat beforehand as you are guaranteed to throw up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fiqoz2p7ql4

About half a dozen fully armed girl-combat soldiers speaking perfect English with American and British accents who volunteered to serve in the IDF because “it is the right thing to do” send their families back home a Happy Independence Day message hoping that they too will one day make “Aliya.” Cute, dust and sweat covered faces of young people who willingly serve in the IDF terror squads present Israel to the world as a harmless friendly little country just busy defending itself.

But even the sweet smiles of young Israeli girl-soldiers cannot hide the brutality of the regime they serve: Thousands of Palestinians sit in Israeli prisons. An estimated three hundred prisoners are held without charge, under administrative arrest.  The heroism of  Khader Adnan and Hana Elshalabi, which makes the Israeli girl soldiers look pathetic, sparked a wave of hunger strikes throughout the prison population and brought the issue of the administrative incarceration of Palestinians by Israel to the forefront. When asked by CNN to explain the administrative detention of Adnan, the face of Israeli apologetics Mark Regev, had a tough time.  He claimed that since much of the information about the defendants was classified, the state had to withhold it from the public and from the defendant who is of course a known terrorist, except that if he were indeed a known terrorist then one would think that the state would charge him. In other words once again the entire security argument is shown to be a lie.

For Israel all of this is a game of public relations as it keeps indulging itself with huge amounts of self-righteousness. Squeezed between the IDF one the one hand and a bureaucracy that oppresses and incarcerates them on the other, Palestinians are caught as though between the claws of a giant crab. Yet the face of apartheid Israel, whether in El Al ads or the IDF spokesman promotion videos is always that of brave looking young Israeli soldiers with smiles on their faces.  As long as Israel’s case is being presented favorably with an American accent and a smile then everything is fine.

It has been two years since the Israeli Naval commandos attacked the Mavi Marmara on its way to Gaza, and two commando “fighters” who were apparently injured by armed terrorists on the Mavi Marmara, are now finally healed and able to return to active duty.  This warranted a story in the weekend edition of Yediot Aharonot. The cover photo had the two wounded warriors wearing ski masks that cover their mouth and nose so that they will not be recognized and they are both in uniform aiming their semi automatic guns at imaginary enemies. One of the two was apparently shot in the stomach and the other had fractured his arm in the “battle.”  In the report there are several photos of these wounded warriors as well as a photo of the arms found on the “terrorist’s” boat: one can clearly see kitchen utensils, mechanical equipment like wrenches and hammers, chains, a Kuffiya and CDs. But strangely enough, there is no gun in the photo.  The gun that was used to shoot the soldier is missing from the photo and there is no explanation as to where it might be.

The soldiers, heroes that they are, admit that as they were preparing for the this “operation” they were expecting some mild violence, but they were shocked by the level of violence and the aggressive reactions of the “terrorists” on board the Mavi Marmara.  In one part of the story, the one soldier said that after he was shot he saw one of the terrorists aim a gun at another soldier and so even as he was bleeding from a stomach wound and in great pain, he “finished him off.” “How were you able to tell the terrorists from the plain civilian activists?” The reporter asks the soldiers whose names are not revealed and are identified only by their first initial, “the terrorists had orange color vests on.”

Zionism is at war with the Palestinian people.  As Israel tries to erase all signs of Palestinian existence and Palestinian connection to the land, its forces brutally kill or arrest those who resist or even just get in the way. Israel has delegitimized itself and made the ethnic cleansing of Palestine the hallmark of Zionism. The tragic and pathetic attempts to cover up the horror  with silly public relations gimmicks will not hide the fact that it Israel is a rogue terrorist state.