Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holy Land Foundation Trail: Judge Joe Fish’s Kangaroo Court in session

[Please note: summaries of the actual events of the trial—far more dispassionate than my writing—are available at http://www.h4jusa.com:80/ and http://www.freedomtogive.com/updates ]

Wikipedia (which is not a reliable scholarly source) defines “Kangaroo Court” as,

“…judicial proceedings that deny due process in the name of expediency. The outcome of such a trial is essentially made in advance, usually for the purpose of providing a conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or by allowing no defense at all.”

The term, according to an online etymology dictionary I consult, was first recorded 1853 in Texas [wouldn’t you know?] from the notion of “proceeding by leaps.”

The trial of the Holy Land Foundation proceeds by leaps, and is being held “for the purpose of providing a conviction…by going through the motions of manipulated procedure…” It is very difficult to see how this trial can be anything else than a Kangaroo Court.

Yesterday’s leaping procedure consisted of a phantom Israeli official laying out his anonymous credentials to be admitted as an “expert” witness. Judge Joe Fish is incapable of understanding that a witness whose work has never been peer reviewed or published in any forum other than that of the institution which pays his salary and for whom he is working is not only NOT an expert witness, he is completely unreliable.

The trial began three weeks ago with the government entering into evidence an entire book, Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, by Matthew Levitt, which is based totally on information that he found by working for “think tanks” whose purpose is to denigrate the Palestinian resistance and to prove that there is a “terrorist” behind every rock in the world. As a teacher of academic writing, I would not accept the book (even though it is published by Yale University Press) as a source for any academic paper by one of my students. It is based almost entirely on hearsay, on newspaper reports (which are allowed as evidence in federal courts only under very clearly prescribed circumstances), and on the writings of other “think tank” “scholars,” who rely on the same sources Levitt does. There are also, of course, sources handed to him by agents of the Israeli government bent on proving that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

And now we have this Israeli agent telling the court (anonymously, I repeat) what it wants to hear: that his careful analysis of newspaper articles and pamphlets and government-controlled documents proves that Hamas controls zakat charities in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza; therefore, any contributions the Holy Land Foundation made to these charities are made in support of Hamas, which means they support “terrorism.”

Judge Joe Fish seems unable (or unwilling) to divorce himself from the government’s determination to convict the Holy Land Foundation for committing crimes, the evidence for which is based on hearsay, innuendo, and a stacking of evidence that focuses on one interpretation of facts that are open to many interpretations, or facts whose meaning the government has twisted simply beyond recognition. A preponderance of the evidence Judge Joe Fish has so far allowed the government to present has little bearing on any charge against HLF of supporting “terrorism” because, as has been shown elsewhere (including in the defense attorneys’ questioning), it comes from before the executive order of 1995 naming Hamas as a “specially designated terrorist” organization.

Yesterday's introduction of a phantom was not the first. Last week Judge Joe Fish allowed another phantom Israeli agent to leap into the proceedings in order to place into evidence a stack of documents for which he could not (and never will be able to) vouch personally as being authentic (which sounds very much like hearsay). The second phantom agent's testimony is based not on careful, unbiased, independently-researched analysis of material, but on ferreting out material that proves (without any corroboration except his say-so) the pre-conception that Hamas, as a “terrorist” organization, controls the charities that, in many cases, keep the Palestinian people functioning as a society.

Judge Joe Fish is—either knowingly, or out of a childish trust in the veracity of his government’s (he was appointed by Ronald Reagan) fear-mongering policy of naming any entity that opposes it as “terrorist,” or as a willing participant in the process—presiding over a court that looks more like a Kangaroo Court than a court based on the rule of law.

The reason for this is quite simple. The current administration uses the fear of “terror” to keep control of the political will of the American people, for the purpose of supporting without question the tyranny of the state of Israel over the Palestinians and, in the process, spreading the largess of war. My friend Mark Herbener, retired Lutheran Bishop of North Texas, wrote to me yesterday from Germany where he is on vacation with the following observation:

Bishop Christian Krause [Lutheran Bishop Emeritus of Brunswick, Germany] spoke with me recently regarding Die Geschäft mit der Angst, which is freely translated, “The Business of Fear.” Luther's issue [in the 16th century] with the papacy was that it built its theology of indulgences on fear, the fear of purgatory or hell, which became financial big business for Rome and bilked the people, the believers, out of their money to support the papacy and all of the bishops and priests.

In the same way, we are facing a “Business of Fear.” Let's face it. Huge bucks are being made by crying “Terrorist, Terrorist,” in the same way that Johannes Tetzel (1465-1519) would cry, “Purgatory, Purgatory.” Bishop Krause suggests in response to Bush's “Axis of Evil,” that we develop an “Axis of Hope.”

A court that predetermines the outcome of any case to help perpetuate the “Business of Fear” is more to be feared than the fear it helps to promulgate. A Kangaroo Court is usually seen as ridiculous. Judge Joe Fish's court is much too dangerous to be laughable.