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BOOK REVIEW: Injustice – The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five

Vacy Vlazna

Survive prison I must, for when I come out I would hold no grudges, or hate, or resentment. My belief system tells me that whatever comes upon me is a matter already decreed by Allah. He knows better.”
Shukri Abu-Baker, HLF5

Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five is about a grave and cruel injustice wielded by both the the USA and Israel, and paradoxically the book’s foundations are friendship, human dignity, and trust bound together by the integrity of the author, Miko Peled.

Peled’s credentials, as an Israeli dissident, as uncle of Smadar (13), a victim of a Palestinian suicide bomber and as son of an Israeli General gives compelling credibility to the findings of his comprehensive investigation.

INJUSTICE

A decade of innocence caged. It is now 10 years since a Machiavellian travesty of US justice sentenced, between 15 – 65 years, the innocent Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulrahman Odeh, who were senior staff of The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) devoted to “Helping the poor, the orphans, and the widows .. one of the pillars of Islamic teachings.”

The HLF was charged with “providing material support for terrorism.” Peled details how the HLF was run with meticulous transparency and with strict adherence to US aid guidelines thus demonstrating that HLF had “no connection to Hamas or any other political or military organizations,”

At the 2007 trial, the prosecution failed to get any convictions.

Undaunted the US government and the FBI mounted a retrial,

The prosecution’s theory was that, by supporting needy Palestinians, HLF had “freed up” Hamas’ own assets to fund terrorist attacks, and that if Palestinians knew that HLF would provide support for their families if assistance became necessary, they would be more likely to become suicide bombers.”

Peled spells out how the spurious charges were backed by questionable documents supplied by Israel, false translations, by cherrypicking ‘documents and phrases until the picture they painted was completely distorted,’ the withholding of ‘secret evidence’ to the defense, unexplained disappearance of crucial records, overt judicial bias towards the prosecution, exploitation of irrelevant and prejudicial testimonies, implausible Israeli ‘experts’, false charges of illegal tax filings, the FBI attempts to recruit collaborators, ‘The FBI even offered me US citizenship and immunity if I testified that HLF was linked to Hamas., ’ and the successful bribing of a key witness for the prosecution by waiving criminal charges of fraud and providing US residency.

Furthermore, the fraudulent manipulations of US justice are mirrored in the injustice that Israel metes out to Palestinians every day. Peled pierces the looking glass to the truth and reality,

I believe that the Palestinian struggle to free all of historic Palestine from the settler-colonialism that is the State of Israel is a just struggle, and I support it wholeheartedly. I accept that the State of Israel in its present form has no legitimacy, and in this I find Hamas’ goal to liberate Palestine completely justified.” Peled

The miscarriage of justice is outrageous. However, when one considers the false evidence the US government made to the UN in the case Iraq’s possession weapons of mass destruction that led to the deaths of half a million-plus innocent Iraqis, one understands that for the government, the collateral damage of 5 innocent Palestinian men sacrificed to further the fake war on terrorism is small potatoes.

FRIENDSHIP & HUMAN DIGNITY

The friendships Peled cultivates with Shukri, Ghassan, Mohammed, Mufid and Abdulrahman are the tour de force that instils intimacy, immediacy and urgency to the injustice they suffer,

I saw how important it is that others come to see them and to understand the background and the context of this story. Only then could anyone understand the travesty and indeed the tragedy that took place here.” ibid.

We accompany Peled on his many visits to the families and to the prisons and thus we empathise with the heartbreaking burden of absence and mutual deprivations suffered by the prisoners and their families; the denial of touch, a kiss, of a father to attend weddings, the burial of a beloved child Sanabel and death of parents, family meals, births of grandchildren.

Peled’s personal accompanying along the journey of injustice generates his moving demonstration of the authenticity of the HLF5’s moral dignity and the raison d’être of their humanitarian work that is grounded in Islam.

Crucially, by sharing respect for Islam embodied in these remarkable men, Peled challenges the the post 9/11 manufactured Islamophobia;

For me, Islam will always be associated with beauty, goodness, and charity. Sadly, the contempt and fear toward Islam, which are a major part of the Jewish-Israeli narrative, has seeped into America and become part of the accepted narrative in the United States as well. Living in the United States, I always felt deprived of the warmth that Islam and the Arab world offer. But when I began working on this book, I met Islam all over again, and in the most unlikely places.”ibid.

Peled repeatedly makes clear the HLF 5 are honourable men. They are not political activists who say ‘No’ to authority, they are activists for Allah-God who say ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ to love, to compassion, to loyalty and to selfless care of the poorest of the poor.

“As Ghassan said to me, “What my friends and I did at the Holy Land Foundation was to help Palestinians who are suffering. They are victims because they find themselves living under a brutal, racist regime that practices apartheid. To be persecuted for such noble work is exactly what the prophets had faced at their time. And being reminded of this is how I get through it.” Indeed, their faith has made them un-enslaveable.”

Their plight is not unlike arresting Mother Teresa for bringing attention to and acting on Third World poverty mainly exacerbated by Western colonial and capitalist exploitation.

The answers to why the US government attacked a soft target humanitarian NGO that did not fund Hamas, become apparent. Firstly destroying NGO’s is a tool of ethnic-cleansing making Palestinian life even more unbearable so that they will leave Palestine.

Similarly Mohammed el-Halabi, the World Vision manager accused of diverting cash to Hamas and though an official Australian investigation found no such diversion, he remains incarcerated by Israel since his 2016 unwarranted arrest. Then there is the escalation of the humanitarian crisis inflicted on Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank by the recent US withdrawal of funding to UNRWA.

Secondly, their mere existence acts as a perpetual accusation against and evidence of Israeli state terrorism.

Hamas, Peled explains emerged from necessity met by the humane ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood that built,

…an infrastructure of social services, medical clinics, and schools, mostly in the impoverished Gaza Strip. These facilities were sorely needed, due to Israel’s grave failure to live up to its responsibilities as the Occupying Power.

But widespread support for Hamas was not only a result of Israeli ineptitude. Hamas leaders came to embody the honesty, altruism, and dedication that are the hallmarks of Islam.”

Peled’s statement of respect simultaneously discredits the US terrorist designation system, that at Israel’s request, named Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

TRUST

This book is about the sanctity of and also the destruction of trust.

Peled’s thoroughness is trustworthy because it is reinforced by his walking the talk with visits, interviews and research.

For years, the HLF5 deservedly won the trust of the thousands upon thousands of their HLF donors and recipients.

Their trust in their faith that informs their every heartbeat with resilience deserves admiration,

La yukalifu Allah nafsan, ila was’aha – God would not burden a soul with a burden that is beyond its capacity. And so believers accept the burden and carry it with devotion.”

Significantly, Peled reveals that we can’t trust the American Justice System because if it can come for five fine men then we must heed Niemöller’s warning that no-one is safe. Unless we stand together.

By the end of the book, I knew action is imperative. In the spirit of J’Accuse I wrote and will continue to write to the US Attorney General demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the innocent Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulrahman Odeh.

Miko Peled, Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five is published by Just World Books. Al Jazeera’s two part documentary follows the lawless political trail of the US-Zionist conspiracy to deliberately turn 5 decent innocent family men into political prisoners.
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters and editor of a volume of Palestinian poetry, I remember my name. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

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vexarb
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From editor Ziad Fadel in this evening’s SyrianPerspective:

THE LIBERATION OF IDLIB HAS BEGUN; 150,000 SYRIAN SOLDIERS AT THE READY

I can confirm to my readers that the Russian Defense Ministry sees no point in delaying the inevitable reconquest of Idlib Province and its restoration to the writ of the central government in Damascus. …

Narrative
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Narrative

syrianperspective.com is a very interesting website. Thank you very much for mentioning it, vexarb!

At least 2 worth reading items are on right now.:
– The Saudi Black Comedy, an article finding new culprits in the recent Saudi murder in Istanbul: Turkey’s and US’s intelligent agents.
– A link to an article in the Haaretz demonstrating how Israel was created from ‘Thin Air’.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/the-twisted-logic-of-the-jewish-historic-right-to-israel-1.6654428

Narrative
Reader
Narrative

In today’s news, at the demand from Roger Waters, a Pink Floyd tribute band pulls out of Israel shows. Here is what he says:

To sing my songs in front of segregated audiences in Israel, and contribute to the cultural whitewashing of the racist and apartheid government of that country, would be an act of unconscionable malice and disrespect.

The people you intend to entertain are executing their neighbour’s children, shooting them down in cold blood every day.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/pink-floyd-tribute-band-pulls-israel-shows-181209102115810.html

auntiebuna
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Good review of an important book. Only one critical suggestion for the reviewer: please do a little more research on Mother Teresa before you conflate her with these real heroes about whom the author wrote.
Mother Teresa never met a fascist dictator she did not like and support. She cleared Calcutta’s streets of sick poor people but the millions of dollars honest people donated to her were never used for medicines. People came to her “sanctuaries” to DIE. Also find out how she gave “comfort” to victims of Papa Doc Duvallai (spel?) in Haiti, the victims of the mass poisoning in Bophal and her support of fascist dictators through her entire career. Her message to the poor was always “forgive, forgive” while telling her prisoners dying on slabs in her Calcutta “sanctuaries” was they were suffering because of their sins.

mohandeer
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@auntiebuna. Totally agree with your observations. Mother Teresa truly believed that suffering was the path to God which is why she “rescued” them from a peaceful but lonely death and “saved” them to die a long lingering death withholding meds for which she received funds for but did not buy. There are many Christians who are like her, usually found in weird cults. These genuine heroes referred to in this piece, should not, as you rightly noted, be compared to the very unsaintly mad woman known as Mother Teresa.

Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

Germaine Greer has noted that the only place she ever ran into Mother Teresa on a regular basis was in the First Class courtesy lounges of international airports.

Disclaimer: I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t know.

Fair dinkum
Reader
Fair dinkum

And therein lies the problem ‘My belief system’
The major downfall of humankind: Belief systems.
Whether they be religious, ideological or political.
Seek first Truth (which is not ‘believable’ only knowable) and everything else will follow. Naturally.

Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

“Seek first Truth (which is not ‘believable’ only knowable) and everything else will follow. Naturally.”

You seem to have found the end of the rainbow. It looks remarkably like the start of the slippery slope.

binra
Reader

Be true to yourself and it follows as surely as night follows day, that you can be false to no man.

So the ‘Seek thee first the Kingdom, and all things shall be added ye’ is ‘get your priorities right.
If you seek to add to yourself first – be sure you are short-changing truth – and therefore yourself.

As Pasteur is reported to have confessed upon his death bed; ..”the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything”.

Of course all forms of truths or saying honoured for holding or aligning us true can be abused. That is how a currency and a culture is devalued.
If we recognize that truth is not IN the form or IN the words or IN the ‘model’ or world – then it is not outside or apart from your recognition and acceptance – and your true witnessing and word.

The slippery slope follows a self-inflation. The key is to open to wonder BUT not let it go to our head. When the heart misaligns – as in a false or illusory devotion or agenda, it engenders conflict and chaos into which the mind interjects or overrules because logic is its nature. It cannot but seek its survival or ‘crash’. But the mind in its own dissociated spin can and often does extend logical fallacies ad absurdum to which the heart is then sacrificed – as with Big Pharma’s management of sickness as chaos to be eradicated or blocked.

The heart’s true devotion is wholeness or wellbeing – in which and of which all else is ‘added’ or aligns naturally. So that is not an attempt to force separate things to work together but a ‘re-calling’ or re-membering within a wholeness that works. (Because its ‘the way it works’ – or the functional expression of a whole in all its parts).

Knowing you are living the life that you have in a sense come to live is not a series of factoids, but a relational endeavour. If what Life Is …could be put into our verbal mental boxes, it would no longer be alive.

Life is communication, that we at the pinnacle of our overlordship, have forgotten – to of course find a slippery slope…

Science is part of checking in to see that what is running in human code (our minds) actually corresponds to something real – rather than running as an overlay imposed upon it – and in effect demanding sacrifice to protect the model (mind).
Otherwise you end up with dark matters and black holeyness along with unimaginable budgets (sacrificial offerings).

harry stotle
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harry stotle

“Significantly, Peled reveals that we can’t trust the American Justice System” – only a fool would trust a system that jails innocent men, refuses to abide by legal norms, pretends the military is not involved in rendition and torture while turning a blind eye to illegal wars conducted by their own leaders.

In other words the US has set its own geopolitical aspirations above those of the law, producing endless casualties along the way (which in addition to the Holyland5 includes the likes of Julian Assange) – the rot probably started with the Neuremberg show trials, described as a costly circus to kill 20 people (since all the verdicts were a formality before the trial even started).

Nearer to home criminals like Tony Blair coin in millions while being feted by Britain’s media – the likes of the Guardian memory hole anyone who point out the symbiotic relationship between the corporate media and the neocon agenda.

bevin
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bevin

“the rot probably started with the Neuremberg show trials”
You are joking Harry, right?
The “justice” system in the US has been a travesty since the days when old farmer lunch was knee high. Think about the Jim Crow system in which local law enforcement and courts handed over innocent black men to be killed and tortured. Think about the impossibility of convicting cops for murders. Then there are the red scares, already well established by the time of Haymarket, and the high profile cases like Sacco and Vanzetti and the Scottsboro boys.
The US criminal justice system has always been rotten to the core and it is not getting any better. the Holt Land victims are the latest in a long line, which currently includes Munir Abdul Hamid and Leonard Peltier. It was only recently that a gormer black Panther was released from Angola Prison after serving 40+ years, including decades of solitary, for a crime everyone, from the Bench to the Ballot boxes knew he did not commit.
There is nowhere on earth where injustice is so deeply hardwired into the state and culture as the United States of America.

bevin
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bevin

That’s Old Farmer Lynch of course.

harry stotle
Reader
harry stotle

I was thinking about it from an international perspective given the US is meddling in a region almost 7,000 miles away, but you are quite right to draw attention to the more distant precedents not least because to this very day US prisons bulge with the casualities of their dog eat dog brand of social Darwinism.

As an aside stunning TED talk from Curtis Carroll – US judges, if they actually gave a damn, could learn from his wisdom rather than persecuting those trying to assist fellow Palestinians.
https://www.ted.com/talks/curtis_wall_street_carroll_how_i_learned_to_read_and_trade_stocks_in_prison?language=en

vexarb
Reader

Dr.Vlaza writes: “… to embody the honesty, altruism, and dedication that are the hallmarks of Islam.”

Amen to that. These are the true ideals of The Holy Land, for people of all religion (and also for people of no religion but still (like my Communist Atheist friends) “men and women of good will”.

I am not sure of the Hamas Leaders: they seem to me brave but stupid insofar as they obeyed an Anglo Zio Capitalist front organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, and joined in NATZO’s terrorist war on Syria, a terrorism funded by two Rothschild oil companies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar has since seen the error of their ways, but Saudi Arabia remains the only ally of Israel in the ME.

I hope that Hamas Leadership will likewise see the error of their ways, and come “to embody the honesty, altruism, and dedication that are the hallmarks of Islam.” These estimable religious virtues are certainly embodied in Dr.Assad of Syria, in Rev.Nasr’Allah of Hezb’Allah and in Pres.Putin of Russia. As do Dr.Vlaza of East Timor Justice Lobby and The Holy Land Foundation. Likewise I hope to see, before I die, our own Leaders in the post-Christian West “embody the honesty, altruism, and dedication that are the hallmarks of Islam.” As they are the hallmarks of Christianity. As of Buddhism. As of Hinduism. As of Humanism. As of Communism. As of Judaism.

There are Three Jerusalems: the Jerusalem of Caesar where the Tax Collector sits with his Legions; the Jerusalem of the Temple where people pray for Peace and Good Will; and the Heavenly Jerusalem which Men of Good Will are struggling to build, by doing Our Kind Father’s will on Earth as it is done in Heaven.

Badger Down
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Badger Down

Don’t they know it’s Christmas?
comment image

vexarb
Reader

It was a Holy Land for Semitic Canaanites first, then Greek Palestinians who arrived about 1500 BC. The first Egyptian record of Israelites is later, 1200 BC. The Jewish Holy Books themselves admit that the Abrahamites originated near Basra in Southern Iraq, traded their way up to Northern Iraq then down the Mediterranean coast to Egypt, then hacked their way into Canaan and Palestine (including the Jebusite Holy City of Jerusalem) as fanatically racist colonists. Which they are to this day.

The Holy Land of Palestine belongs to Christians, Muslims, Jews — and anyone else who loves Peace. Modern Israel is a political construct of 20th century Anglo Zio Capitalists starting with the Declarations of English Lord Balfour to English Lord Rothschild in WW1. The aim of these English Lords was (and still is) to control Mesopotamian oil and Palestinian offshore gas.

https://russia-insider.com/en/israel-signs-pipe-deal-rival-russia-gas-supplier-europe/ri25517

Antonym
Reader
Antonym

land vs Holy land. The latter concept is part of religion.

binra
Reader

Domination of the Earth begins with private property or land as ‘possession’ rather than belonging to the land.
Everything you have lived is part of you and has belonging in you.
But is always reciprocal.
The wholeness of Life is its holiness.
A broken mind is a traumatised dissociation from its true belonging.
And its true foundation.
And such a confusion seeks and makes its OWN foundation upon the ‘death’ of Life and the sacrifice of the ‘other’ as the condition of its private or special ‘survival’.
This ‘secret power’ is hidden in every mind of division – for it IS the mind of division. And so induces and defends darkness as the maintaining of ‘insider dealings’ that transparency and accountability of honest account simply do not invite or host.
The mind of division is the means to deny the awareness of conditions in which illusion cannot operate by setting illusions of true against illusions of false and inducing reaction by which to have taken sides – or invested in illusion in place of the wholeness of true.

To come back or reintegrate to a true inherence is the releasing of the stealing or false claim to a Living Inheritance – that initiated the self-inflation as the basis for the ‘Fall’.
Where do we uncover our own denials” The mind will not and cannot see what it was predicated or made to deny and divert from, But denial is only putting out of willingness to see, and not out of the true of mind, and so this ‘unconscious’ mind is not actually hidden, but assigned to an ‘outside or ‘other-ness’ relative to a self-specialness seeking power or vindication by subjection of ‘others’ by sacrificing parts of itself to grievance made ‘holy’ in reversal of the golden rule.
Such a hatred is blind and blinding as a substitute for the Mind of God – which it would usurp as a ‘self-thinking itself’ over and against feared loss of power and thus of protection against all its denials coming ‘home’.
Everyone has the will of a self-protection, but the protecting of a false claim must attack truth to then be attacked and justify power on Earth in terms of terror, as a protection racket.
This is the nature of limiting the mind to the body, as the forms of hidden and shifting ‘meanings’ where what is given light is used to conceal or keep in darkness.

The revealing of the true is not to a mind-frame of damning hell or a self-serving heaven, but to a recognition of Sanctity of being that the thought of man cannot intrude upon nor edit – but only block in a sense of special forms of love lost as a basis from which to withhold and withdraw from the Gift – in order to give differently than love’s awareness now – and give worth-ship there instead.

What we give unto Caesar is not the outward form, but the inner allegiance.
Awakening the true heart from it broken or wounded substitution is the release of grievance as a source of self-specialness. Denied will induces rage. So don’t be denied the true of your willing by a mind in reaction that stamps an asserted and associated past upon the present into the future. Open to something of a present relationship.

GorgeousGreece
Reader

The reviewer wrote: The prosecution’s theory was that, by supporting needy Palestinians, HLF had “freed up” Hamas’ own assets to fund terrorist attacks, and that if Palestinians knew that HLF would provide support for their families if assistance became necessary, they would be more likely to become suicide bombers.”

This same argument can be made about US aid to Israel that frees up money for Israel to fund their illegal military occupation of Palestine.

The withholding from the defense of HLF-5’s documents confiscated by Israeli soldiers and cherry picking out of context excerpts to present at trial was the same tactic used against the Nuremburg defendants.

Antonym
Reader
Antonym

Is was a Holy land for Jews first; Christians were second and Islam claimed it last. Free it from whom?
Spirituality is tolerant and defensive, religion intolerant and offensive. Guess who won; the latter elements amongst all 3 groups mentioned first. Won as in the silence of the graveyard / harem, the beauty of the burkha and banning of music, with Western leftist – feminist support even!!

BigB
Reader
BigB

‘Jews’; ‘Christians’; ‘Islam’ – do you have any sources for your historiography?

Who came first? Which ‘race’ won the race …so to speak? Who can lay claim to the land by right of birth or story? All of us, or just some? So it is an exclusionary story at the same time it is an inclusionary story. With invented histories that designate and differentiate ‘Jew’ from ‘Christian’ from ‘Islam’. Surely there is just a succession of unique individual people: who have minor difference, face the same dilemmas and difficulties, with shared common ancestry, and who could celebrate the commonality of a universal humanity? Unless they invoke the perpetuated myths of ‘Jew’, ‘Christian’, and ‘Islam’ …then the race for exclusion goes on, and on, and on…