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65 years in jail for providing charity (to Palestinians that is)

Marcy Newman, body on the line


May 30, 2009

this week five men from the holy land foundation were sentenced to prison terms. here are the details from democracy now!’s coverage, and if you click the link below you can watch goodman and gonzalez’s report:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Five founders of a Muslim charity have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a controversial case that began nearly ten years ago. The Holy Land Foundation, based in a Dallas suburb, was the biggest Muslim charity in the United States before the Bush administration shut it down in 2001. Its five founders were convicted last November on charges of funneling money to the Palestinian group Hamas. The US government declared Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995.

It was the second trial against the Holy Land Foundation’s five leaders after the first ended in a mistrial. The government’s case relied on Israeli intelligence as well as disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by the FBI over a span of fifteen years.

AMY GOODMAN: Defendants Ghassan Elashi and Shukri Abu Baker each received sixty-five-year prison sentences. At his sentencing hearing, Elashi said, "Nothing was more rewarding than…turning the charitable contributions of American Muslims into life assistance for the Palestinians. We gave the essentials of life: oil, rice, flour. The occupation was providing them with death and destruction." Another defendant, Mohammad El-Mezain, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was found guilty of supporting Hamas but acquitted on thirty-one other charges. Volunteer fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader was sentenced to twenty years in prison. And the fifth defendant, Abdulrahman Odeh, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. All five defendants plan to file appeals.

angry arab put it best, i think, responding to this criminalization of palestinians in the united states:

If you funnel money to the Israeli terrorist army, it is tax-deductible in the US. And if you funnel money to any Palestinian group, you serve time in jail.

here is a statement from the holy land 5’s website and you can follow its updates if you want to see how you can help, and below, more importantly, why you should help:

As we’ve shown in our Counterpoints to the Case, the Holy Land Foundation is not being accused of providing funds to HAMAS, nor is HLF being accused of committing or supporting any acts of violence. So, what crime is the government charging HLF with?

Feeding orphans.

So, why is this important to us as Americans? Well, think for a minute about the power that the President exercised when he single-handedly shut down HLF and declared the charity a terrorist organization. Should one man, regardless of his rank within our government, have the king-like power to shut down businesses or organizations without providing a shred of evidence to the public to support such actions? Think about how you would feel if it was you or your organization being attacked by an executive order? Don’t think it could happen to you?

Think again.

What happens when the government has no evidence and therefore has no case? Normally, it has to drop the case. However, despite not having any evidence of wrongdoing, the government decided to manufacture a case against HLF. How did they do this? Easy, just "re-define" what is legal. Because every penny of the money donated to HLF was well-documented and these documents prove without any doubt that no funds were used to support terrorism, the government changed course and decided to create a "logical" argument that somehow feeding orphans in Palestine — which is perfectly legal and done by many US-based humanitarian organizations — was somehow the same as supporting HAMAS …

… at least in HLF’s case.

But isn’t that discriminatory, and why should you care? Yes, it is discriminatory and you should care because if the government is allowed to say that someone doing perfectly legal humanitarian aid should be designated illegal for strictly political reasons, then what happens to you if your views, your religion or your country of origin falls out of political favor with the current administration?

Can you see the serious dangers of such powers?

What if it was your charity, your organization, your business, your church or your synagogue that the President decides he doesn’t like? What if it is you that the government decides to throw in jail without providing any evidence of wrong-doing? What if it is you or someone you care about who the government decides to manufacture a case against? What if it is your family the government decides to destroy…

…all because you hold different political beliefs?

So, I hope you are beginning to see how this case affects you. If the government can prosecute one organization or one person without any evidence, cause or legal justification, do you think they will stop there? So, are you still asking yourself "Why should I care?" The reason you should care is simple, because…

You could be next.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Birmingham Jail, 1963.

this is islamophobia and racism against palestinians at its worst. and where is all that hope and change from obama that he is promising the muslim world?

:: Article nr. 54710 sent on 30-may-2009 16:17 ECT


Link: bodyontheline.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/65-years-in-jail-for-providing-charity-to

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