Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday during jury selection one prospective juror said “I don't understand why we're trying this case in this country. It should be tried in Israel, shouldn't it?”

“Attempts to disrupt the Middle East peace process through terrorism by groups opposed to peace (sic) have threatened and continue to threaten vital interests of the United States (sic), thus constituting an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security… of the United States . . . I have authorized the Secretary of State to designate additional foreign persons who have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of disrupting the Middle East peace process, or who assist in, sponsor, or provide financial . . . services in support of, such acts of violence. . .” (President Clinton’s Message to the Congress on Terrorists Who Threaten to Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process, Exec. Order No. 12,947, 3 C.F.R. 319, 31&-320, 1996.)

Committing “acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of disrupting the Middle East peace process?”

Some information gleaned from the website If Americans Knew:

At the moment Hamas is holding 1 (that's ONE) Israeli prisoner, and Israel is holding 10,756 Palestinians—that we know of—as prisoners; since 1967, 0 (that's ZERO) Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians, while the Israelis have demolished 18,147 Palestinian homes; Israel has 223 "settlements" on confiscated Palestinian land (which both the UN and the World Court have decreed are illegal) while the Palestinians have 0 (that's ZERO) settlements on Israeli land. According to The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 4,719 Palestinians and 1,044 Israelis have been killed since 2000.

One killing is too many, and to argue a point by counting the dead is macabre, but imbalance is imbalance.

The question is not, after all, why the case is not being tried in Israel. The question is, “Why is the State of Israel not on trial?" Is a religious/charitable organization “disrupting a peace process” by providing aid to a people whose homes are being demolished, whose land is confiscated, whose neighbors are being murdered and imprisoned, and whose lives are daily less tenable? Is it not the perpetrators of this massive violence who are interrupting the peace process?

Our government has succumbed to the narrative that feeding children constitutes an act of war against the United States rather than the narrative that perpetrators of violence on a nation unable to defend itself. Prosecution of benefactors has taken the place of prosecution of state-sponsored terrorism. As Richard Jackson says,

“Discursively reconstructing terrorist attacks as ‘acts of war’ functioned to justify a military-based rather than a criminal justice response, and conferred on the state all the extensive powers reserved for wartime; in effect, the public language worked to thoroughly normalize a military response for society – a ‘war on terrorism’ – and to transform the administration into a ‘war presidency.’” (1)

“War presidencies” are empowered to make irrational decisions for the sake of “security” that have nothing to do with the “facts on the ground.” One irrational decision is declaring resisters to tyranny to be “terrorists.” An even more reprehensible irrationality is declaring that American citizens who give generously to better the lives of the innocent people caught in the middle of this struggle between tyranny and resistance to be an extraordinary threat to the United States..

Israel is the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States. Israel should be on trial, not the American citizens of the Holy Land Foundation.

(1) Jackson, Richard. “Genealogy, Ideology, and Counter-Terrorism: Writing wars on terrorism from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, Jr,” Studies in Language and Capitalism 2 (May 1 2007).