Friday, August 10, 2007

The Holy Land Foundation Trial and Israeli “spin”

In his coverage of yesterday’s Street-Theater-Come-Inside testimony of a secret agent for the Israeli Defense [sic] Forces, Jason Trahan of the Dallas Morning News quoted Thomas Melsheimer, a former Dallas federal prosecutor, saying, “It makes it extraordinarily difficult for the defense to cross-examine him in any meaningful way.”

That difficulty exists only for those like Mr. Trahan who do not question the Israeli propaganda machine. The fact is the phantom agent’s testimony was almost magically transparent. It revealed, for anyone who is willing to understand Israel’s “spin” machine, the ways in which Israel influences opinion in the United States. The phantom’s testimony consisted of his personal authentication of (apparently) pro-Hamas documents found between 2002 and 2004 in the offices of Muslim charitable (zakat) committees in the Occupied West Bank. Soldiers of the Israeli Defense [sic] Forces under his command raided the offices. The first problem for the prosecution when it presents its next phantom witness will be to explain how materials found after the HLF was closed down are relevant to this case.

The most transparent meaning of the testimony, for those who care or dare to look for it, was in the phantom’s answers to defense attorney Linda Moreno’s questions about finding the documents. She asked if the phantom had been with his men when they searched any of the zakat committee offices from which the documents came. After much evasion, the phantom answered, No he had not. The follow-up question was whether he could say for certain where the documents were found—perhaps even in trash cans. His answer again was, “No.” The phantom’s authentication is hearsay.

These documents were found by unsupervised soldiers, given orders to loot and ransack offices to look for specific items. That is the second problem for the prosecution. The phantom admitted that the soldiers did not take all of the materials in the offices—only such material as they were looking for, that is, material to prove the committees supported (or were controlled by) Hamas. Most of the material consists of posters and pamphlets, not records of the committees. If there was material that contradicted their orders, it was left behind. These searches were for the specific purpose of finding damning material no matter what else was available.

When Ms. Moreno asked if photographs were taken or videos made of the process of looting (or of the offices before the looting was done), the phantom answered, “No.” So the fact is that no one knows—or can ever know for sure—where the material was found. Might some of it have come from stores, private homes that were bulldozed or searched at the same time, or even litter in the streets?

The last evidence of Israeli “spin” concerns the storage of the documents. Those of us in the audio-only room of the court had difficulty hearing and following the phantom’s explanation of the cataloguing and transportation and storage of the documents, but the gist of it was that his intelligence unit of the Israeli Defense [sic] Forces had control over them, and that no one else ever had access to them. But he contradicted himself, so we were left wondering just what the “truth” is. Several important questions are unanswered. How can anyone know if material that would exonerate the zakat committees (and the HLF) was discarded? How can anyone know if material was gathered from other places and put in these files? And, most importantly, if it is not possible for researchers or anyone without top security clearance to see, much less take away, any of these materials from where they are stored, exactly how did the prosecution in this case come by them?

Of course, the most obvious “spin” of the truth in the phantom’s testimony was the Street Theater itself. Why should the phantom not be identified? If he is identified, what danger might he be in? Danger from those sitting in the courtroom? Of course not. The implication is that we might be “terrorists” (even those who are not of Arab descent or Muslims) and, because we are sworn to violence, he would not be safe. Never mind the fact that we went through airport-style security twice simply to get into the courtroom. And never mind the fact that no terrorist act (except for the Oklahoma City bombing by the christianist David McVeigh) has ever been perpetrated anywhere near Dallas.

When the phantom returns to Israel, will he be in danger? How long has it been since any “terrorist” murdered an Israeli official? How long has it been since the Israeli Defense [sic] Force killed a Palestinian leader in a “targeted assassination?” Who in Occupied Palestine or in Israel needs to be afraid for his life, a Palestinian leader or an Israeli Defense [sic] Force officer?

The Israeli spin machine has long since mastered the art of presenting half-truths as the whole truth, of manipulating evidence to make it point to conclusions favorable to the Israeli government which do not necessarily have anything to do with the truth, and of hiding facts in order to prevent discussion of reality in America.

The entire charade of the phantom was designed to perpetuate the myth of Hamas “terrorism” and the concomitant myth of American Muslim and Arab-American “terrorism.” The perpetuation, of course, is designed to garner continued unquestioning American support for the Israeli subjugation and ultimate elimination of the Palestinian people. And, along the way, to allow the United States administration to continue its erosion of our Constitutional rights in the guise of the “war on terror.”

[Please note: in a posting to come soon, I will tell the story of the delegation I was with in the West Bank in 2003 being shown an office of an NGO that had been ransacked and searched by the Israeli Defence [sic] Force. I must find my notes (and perhaps pictures) to make sure my writing is accurate.]