Thursday, August 28, 2008

"A decent respect to the opinions of mankind..."

As the federal government gears up to retry the Holy Land Foundation and its officers, we can take heart in one reality: the political climate has changed in the entire nation. Most Americans, if they ever knew, or if they remember, what the first trial a year ago was all about, have almost certainly forgotten about it—and to most people, I should think, it will seem like a piece of last year’s business, old news that is hardly worth being resurrected. What does it have to do with $4.00 per gallon gasoline?

That the Federal Government insists on retrying this case is an egregious example of how out-of-touch with current realities and with the concerns of most Americans the Bush administration and all of its operatives are. We know that US District Attorney’s offices are not politically motivated (Oh we do?), but we also know that the Attorney General, serving our incredibly unpopular President, was confirmed at least partly because of his record of “fighting terrorism.” This impossibly outdated and discredited administration needs one—oh, please, they must be praying, at least one—victory of some sort before they leave office, and Mr. Jacks may be in a position to deliver on that need.

I do not mean to say that the case—if the defendants were guilty of something—should be dropped simply because it is no longer politically viable. However, that such a victory for Mr. Jacks and Attorney General Mukasey, and—ultimately, George W. Bush—is possible should stagger the imagination of any intelligent, compassionate, or freedom-loving American. The case was possible in the first place because of a fluke of American law based on one of the most unconscionable executive actions in our nation’s history. President Clinton signed an order saying that any group acting to undermine the Oslo Accords could be named a Specially Designated Terrorist organization, and, at the behest of Israel, he so named Hamas in 1995. Then in 2001, Israel persuaded George Bush to make Hamas a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization (meaning that, even though Hamas has never attacked anyone outside Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Mr. Bush declared it to be threat to the whole world).

Israel, meanwhile, was building the squatter-like “settlements” that by now cover most of the territory the Palestinians were to have as their own under Oslo. But that doesn’t, for reasons known only to Presidential minds, amount to undermining Oslo. So persons supporting Israeli organizations are free to continue to do so, while anyone supporting Hamas breaks US law. And in the most bizarre twisting of truth and subverting of reality since Joseph McCarthy’s reign of terror, the Justice Department and the FBI set out systematically to invent and then prosecute a case against the Holy Land Foundation for materially supporting Hamas by raising money from American Muslims to send to Islamic zakat (charitable) organizations in Palestine that stood between the children of Palestine and starvation.

But the twisted legal ramifications of this case—while they could still land five decent, hard-working, faithful, God-fearing Americans in prison, men I know and respect—are not the most repugnant possibilities. They are but the outcomes of the real sin—the evil (if George Bush can use theological terms, so can I) and purposeful demeaning of and disrespect for millions of Americans, our brother and sister Americans who happen to be Muslim and/or of Arab descent.

And here is why I make that claim . . . [to be continued]