Saturday, August 04, 2007

Holy Land Foundation trial and "Evidence?"

Suppose for a moment the State of Texas decided to end one of the menaces to our society—one that is responsible for many deaths and an enormous amount of property loss every year—talking on a cell phone while driving. Then, by executive order of the governor, the state police were given the authority to start going through the phone records and the driving records of people who were suspected of having talked on their cell phones while driving before the law was passed. Soon the state would be prosecuting Texans, not for talking on their cell phones under the new law, but because they talked on their cell phones before the law was passed. Drivers would be indicted because they SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that some day such conversations would be made illegal. Absurd? Ridiculous?

That is what a preponderance of the evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial is all about; the judge has allowed the prosecution to enter evidence of supposed wrong-doing (note I say “supposed” wrongdoing) in the HLF’s dealings with certain entities that were not illegal at the time of those dealings. A financial transaction that took place in 1989 cannot be deemed illegal under an executive order signed by President Clinton in 1995. Or can it? That seems to be the substance of the government’s case against the Holy Land Foundation so far.

There are, as far as this non-historian knows (and I admit my knowledge is scant) no parallels in history for what is happening in this trial. There might be some almost-similar situations. For example, Japanese-American families were rounded up and sent off to concentration camps during World War II on the supposition that they were enemy collaborators or traitors. Charges of spying or sabotage were not made against these people. But apparently they should have known that Japan would attack Pearl Harbor and somehow changed their lives so they would not be suspect.

Or, in another possible example, our current climate of hysteria over “illegal immigration,” it could possibly happen that a law might be passed forbidding immigrants from Latin America from sending money home to their impoverished families. The lesson of the Holy Land Foundation case is that Latinos who are sending money home now should somehow know that using money earned in this country to support their families at home may at any time become illegal, so they should heed the warning and stop. (Of course, how this is different from Americans sending money to support family, friends, and institutions in the state of Israel would not be clear.)

Sending money is what this trial is all about: sending money to support those in Palestine. The charges against HLF are meant to warn Arab-Americans or Muslim Americans in general that “we are watching you.” You, too, may be caught in this web of deceit that has put an end to the work of the Holy Land Foundation. The HLF is not accused of any violent act, as we all know.

(Never mind that President Clinton’s designation of Hamas was illogical from the beginning: why should the US name an organization that has never harmed the US as a “special” terrorist entity? That is not a rhetorical question; I’d like an answer.)

The laws regarding “terrorism” in this country are designed for two purposes: 1) to keep the people of this country in a constant state of being, as Zbigniew Brzezinksi, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, said, “Terrorized by terror.” 2) To create an atmosphere of fear of the government that will allow the government to control our minds, hearts, and actions, simply by making known the possibility that dissent or any kind of action counter to the government’s policies could, not WILL, but COULD result in charges of aiding an enemy of the nation or conspiring with “terrorists,” whoever they may be.

Do you know which actions of yours today might be illegal tomorrow? Better watch out! Especially if you have relatives in Palestine (or in the diaspora of Palestinians, or in a refugee camp in Lebanon, or.....)