Tag Archives: gaza

Daughter of Jailed Charity Leader, Activists & Attorneys Rally on Eve of Supreme Court Conference on Fate of Holy Land Foundation

Daughter of Jailed Charity Leader, Activists & Attorneys Rally on Eve of Supreme Court Conference on Fate of Holy Land Foundation

[New York, NY] At 5pm tomorrow (Thursday, October 25, 2012) activists, lawyers, and family members of defendants in the controversial Holy Land Five trial will hold a press conference and rally outside the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building (26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10013).

Noor Elashi, daughter to imprisoned Holy Land Foundation co-founder, Ghassan Elashi, and Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, will address the large assembly of activist supporters at 5:30pm in what may be the last public showing of solidarity for the Holy Land Five defendants before the Supreme Court is scheduled to conference on whether they will rule on the group’s 2008 conviction for alleged crimes under the Material Support to Terrorists statute.  The Supreme Court calendar indicates that should they conference on the Holy Land Five case it will likely happen on Friday, October 26, 2012.  This will be the last legal remedy for the defendants outside of a Presidential pardon.

The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was the largest Muslim charity in the United States until three months after 9/11 when the Bush administration shut it down following a claim that the group had donated a portion of their foundation funds to schools and hospitals in Gaza through a Zakat Committee that allegedly had connections to Hamas (designated by the US in 1995 as a terrorist group).  After subsequent raids on their homes and offices, arrests, and two trials (the first ending in a hung jury), the Holy Land Five was convicted of conspiracy under the Material Support to Terrorists statute and received sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years in Federal Prison.

Edward Abington, a diplomat who served as U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem during the 1990s, when called to testify on behalf of the HLF defense in 2007, said Israel had provided “selective information to try to influence U.S. thinking.”  Also introduced into the court record by Abington was the little known fact that in the same year the HLF defendants were indicted the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had given $47,00 to the same Zakat Committee alleged in the indictment to have ties to Hamas (see DX1074 or pg.12 in writ). Moreover, USAID has periodically contributed to the same Zakat committees named in the indictments, from before the time of the HLF indictment until today.   This double standard is circuitous because it implies that either USAID is using taxpayer money to “finance Hamas” or that the allegations made against the HLF were baseless from the beginning.

After the 2007 deadlock, juror Nanette Scroggins, a retired claims adjuster, said in her only interview about the case, “I kept expecting the government to come up with something, and it never did… From what I saw, this was about Muslims raising money to support Muslims, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Noor Elashi, whose father Ghassan Elashi is now imprisoned, is speaking out, “I am heartened by the solidarity of those who are standing by my father during this critical time. I hope to see this momentum keep building until the Holy Land Five are exonerated.”

Ghassan Elashi is currently serving 65 years at the Federal Communications Management Unit (CMU) in Marion Illinois.  The CMU is a designer penal program that focuses specifically on isolating and silencing inmates.  The demographic of the CMU’s designees is made up of an overwhelming 79% Muslim majority with a smaller minority group of non-Muslim designees that have highly politicized cases.  This glaring racial disparity as well as the political nature of these prisons was the focus of a two-part investigation by National Public Radio titled “Guantanamo North.”  The Center for Constitutional Rights is currently suing the Department of Justice over the legality of CMU’s.

The American Civil Liberties Union in a 2009 report sharply criticized the government’s prosecution of the HLF, saying it “…violated the fundamental rights of American Muslim Charities and has chilled American Muslims’ charitable giving in accordance with their faith, seriously undermining American values of due process and commitment to First Amendment freedoms.”

Tomorrow’s rally and press conference is part of a national day of action in solidarity with the Holy Land Five.  The groups participating in tomorrow’s actions include:

• The Committee to Stop FBI Repression
• The Center for Constitutional Rights
• The Muslim Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild
• Free the Holy Land Five / Freedom to Give
• United National Anti-war Coalition
• Defending Dissent Foundation
• International Action Center
• National Lawyers Guild of Washington DC
• Students for a Democratic Society
• Project SALAM (Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims)
• Labor for Palestine
• New York City Labor Against the War
• Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
• US Palestinian Community Network

A copy of the indictment against the HLF is available HERE
A copy of the HLF Petition of Cert is available HERE

For more information on the HLF visit http://freedomtogive.com
You can RSVP to tomorrow’s rally on facebook HERE

To request an interview with Noor Elashi, or for raw video footage of tomorrow’s events please contact Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010

Join Pamela Olson for a Discussion of ‘Fast Times in Palestine’ at Bluestockings Books 8/15/2011

Join Pamela Olson for a Discussion of ‘Fast Times in Palestine’ at Bluestockings Books 8/15/2011

Fast Times in Palestine, tells the story of Pamela Olson, a young woman from small-town Oklahoma whose political innocence was shattered when she wandered into the West Bank in late 2003. Her fellow travelers and young Palestinians introduce her to a world of soul-destroying injustice that outsiders seldom hear about. With new knowledge and dizzying speed, Pamela finds herself working as a journalist, serving as the foreign press coordinator for a Palestinian presidential candidate, and witnessing the Disengagement from inside the Gaza Strip. Funny, gorgeous, surprising, and galvanizing, Olson’s memoir changes the way we think about the Middle East.

Monday, August 15th at 7PM
At Bluestockings Books | http://bluestockings.com
172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002, (212) 777-6028
For directions click HERE

It’s love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson… takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah and in doing so lays bare the human drama of a people… determined to live free. — Tony Karon, Senior Editor, TIME

A moving, inspiring account of life in Palestine that’s enormously informative yet reads like a novel — Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace

In a field overcrowded with arcane academic texts and strident polemics, Pamela Olson has broken through with a refreshing read that packs gritty journalism into a fast-paced, intimate personal narrative. — Max Blumenthal, Author of Republican Gomorrah

 

Join us This Thursday at 7pm for the Launch of ‘Fast Times in Palestine’

Project Palestine is an organization aimed at illustrating the Palestinian condition through films, music, literature, poetry and art.

Join us this Thursday July 7th, at 7pm for a book launch celebrating the release of Fast Times in Palestine and a very special conversation with author Pamela Olson and Noor Elashi.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 7pm
The New School, 65 West 11th Street, Wollman Hall, 5th Floor
Hosted by Project Palestine & the Graduate Program in International Affairs
Please RSVP & share this event on facebook

Fast Times in Palestine is a ground-breaking novel about the modern Palestinian reality, told through the eyes of a young woman from small-town Oklahoma whose political innocence was shattered when she wandered into the West Bank in late 2003. With dizzying speed she found herself working as a journalist, serving as the foreign press coordinator for a Palestinian presidential candidate, and witnessing the 2005 Disengagement from inside the Gaza Strip. The narrative focuses not only on violence, terror, and social and political upheavals but also on the daily rounds of house 
parties, concerts, barbecues, weddings, jokes, harvests, and romantic drama that happen in between. Funny, gorgeous, shocking, and galvanizing, this book challenges the way Americans think not only about the Middle East but about human nature and our place in the world. Fast Times in Palestine is available on Amazon HERE.

PRAISE FOR FAST TIMES IN PALESTINE

“Olson’s masterful storytelling, imagery and wit take the reader on a transformative journey through Palestine.” —Anna Baltzer, author of Witness in Palestine

“Pamela Olson leads the reader on an exciting, funny, at times heart-wrenchingjourney, carefully deciphering complex political and historical issues. Olson is a talented writer, intelligent and exceptional in her ability to convey both tragedy and hope.”
—Ramzy Baroud, author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter

“It’s love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson… takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah — and in doing so lays bare the human drama of a people… determined to live free.” —Tony Karon, Senior Editor, TIME Magazine

“A moving, inspiring account of life in Palestine that’s enormously informative yet reads like a novel.”
—Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

“Pamela Olson operates in a great tradition of American explorers, from Martha Gellhorn to Susan Meiselas to Rachel Corrie — open-minded women who have thrown off a lot of tired received wisdom about a fearful part of the world in order to see it for themselves, then brought that understanding back to their own culture. This book is a triumph of sympathy and observation.” —Philip Weiss, Editor of Mondoweiss

 

A Message to the Media Regarding the US Boat to Gaza

An update from  Andy Stepanian, co-founder of the Sparrow Project.

For the past 24 hours I have been glued to twitter as a few of my close friends set out with the US Boat to Gaza with hopes of documenting the breaking of the maritime blockade that has economically crippled Gaza since 2006 and isolated 1.6 million Palestinians in what some humanitarians are calling “the world’s largest open-air prison.”

Shortly after my release from the Communications Management Unit I started a project, reaching out to families of political prisoners still held in the CMU.  It was through these efforts that I met two amazing people — Paul Park and Noor Elashi.  I met Paul while documenting the efforts of Project Palestine. Paul directed and shot this video and Noor helped story board the piece.

With high profile interviews from academics, humanitarians and artists their video provides a brilliant response to the accusations levied against the flotilla by media outlets that support the blockade.  As activists we already understand that the flotilla’s purpose is not one of confrontation nor is it aligned with any Palestinian authority, but savvy PR initiatives by many special interests are quick to label the flotilla as such and in-tern they cultivate fear and distrust within the Israeli populace, inflame IDF forces that may at one point engage the flotilla, and control the flotilla narrative amidst the international community.  It is important that we as activists turn the tide in the smothering public relations efforts levied from these special interests.   Please take a moment this afternoon to share their video on social networks, twitter, etc.

We will be posting updates on and from the flotilla in real time via our twitter account http://twitter.com/sparrowmedia we invite you to join this conversation and help us to wage our own grassroots PR effort in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

All the best,
Andy