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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
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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… Read more »

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
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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… Read more »

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

bevin
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bevin

That’s Old Farmer Lynch of course.

harry stotle
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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
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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… Read more »

Badger Down
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Badger Down

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

vexarb
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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… Read more »

binra
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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… Read more »

Antonym
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Antonym

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

GorgeousGreece
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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… Read more »

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
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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… Read more »