After raising concerns about radical British politician George Galloways speech at the University of California, Irvine last May regarding his Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza, and whether that campus may have been illegally used as a base for fundraising for the terrorist group Hamas, the Zionist Organization of American (ZOA) has provided more troubling information to the University and to the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Galloway and Viva Palestina. In a letter sent last Friday to Eric H. Holder, Jr., the U.S. Attorney General, and George S. Cardona, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, the ZOA furnished these law enforcement officials with a just-issued report about Viva Palestina, prepared by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). IPTs Executive Director is Steven Emerson, one of the foremost experts on domestic terrorism in the United States. The 31-page report shows that Viva Palestina’s goal is not charity, but to support the terrorist group Hamas. The ZOA also furnished law enforcement officials with information from a participant in the Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza in July 2009, who confirmed that the convoy provided support and resources to Hamas.
Last Friday, the ZOA provided the same information to UC Irvine, in a letter to Diane Geocaris, UC Irvines Chief Campus Counsel and Associate General Counsel. In light of this additional troubling information, the ZOA pressed the U.S. Department of Justice for an immediate investigation. In addition, the ZOA asked UC Irvine for additional details about the Universitys own report to law enforcement and its own internal probe into the conduct of the Muslim Student Union and certain University officials, which the University had already committed to undertaking. The ZOA had alleged that the Muslim Student solicited funds for Viva Palestina on campus last May, after having specifically represented to the University that the event would not be a fundraiser. Moreover, several University officials were apparently present at the Galloway event, but did not intervene when the MSU and Galloway solicited funds from the audience, even though these officials knew or should have known that fundraising had not been authorized by the University.
In last Fridays letter to Justice Department officials, the ZOA detailed George Galloways history of demonizing Israel and supporting terrorist groups. At UC Irvine last May, he reportedly compared Israels defensive war against Hamas in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust, including describing Gaza as a concentration camp. He falsely described the founders of the State of Israel as European settlers in disregard of the historical truth that Jews have lived continuously in the Land of Israel for thousands of years. The ZOA also reported to the Justice Department findings by the Anti-Defamation League that in July 2006, during Israels war with Lebanon, Galloway wrote an op-ed in the Socialist Worker, praising Hezbollah, which has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.
The ZOA informed the Justice Department that in light of Galloways horrific background, the findings of the Investigative Project on Terrorism are no surprise: that the Viva Palestina campaign is more about supporting and legitimizing Hamas than it is about providing aid to the needy. In their speeches and in the delivery of their supplies, Viva Palestinas most visible leaders call for the elimination of the State of Israel to pave the way for a one-state solution to the [Palestinian Arab-Israeli] conflict. They treat Hamas leaders as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and provide both material and moral support to the terrorist organization. (IPT Report p. 3.) (To read the IPT report, click here.)
As reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, when Galloway arrived with his Viva Palestina convoy in Gaza in March 2009, he handed a bag of cash to a Hamas minister and said, We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of the contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say: We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine [Hamas]. (IPT Report p. 9.)
The IPT also reported that on July 3, 2009, the night before Galloways U.S. Viva Palestina convoy left for Gaza, delegates gathered at a church in Brooklyn, New York. A member of Viva Palestina endorsed the terrorist group Hamas as a legitimate political entity:
. . . The first and foremost among them with this convoy, without question supports is the rights of Palestinians to self-determination, the right the government to choose, not only the government under which they want to live, but in choosing Hamas, what they chose was one united Palestinian state on all of the 1948 territories from the north to the very south. That is what Palestinians chose. And in supporting Palestinian choice we are saying we support their right to liberation from violent colonialism. (IPT Report p. 10) (emphasis in Report).
At this July 3rd send-off of the convoy, Father Luis Barrios also spoke, according to the IPT Report. He reportedly urged those traveling with the convoy to Break the law. Just break it. OK? (IPT Report p. 11.)
In addition to the 31-page IPT report, the ZOA furnished the Justice Department with troubling information that shows that in addition to the March 2009 convoy to Gaza, the July 2009 convoy provided support and resources to the terrorist group Hamas. A rapper known as M1 from Dead Prez gave a talk in Santa Cruz at Barrios Unidos on September 28, 2009. (See http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/09/29/18623875.php.) He talked about being part of the July 2009 convoy, and confirmed that the convoy provided support and resources to Hamas:
. . . what emerged more than anything was not that this mission for Viva Palestina was this humanitarian aid mission that was gonna bring all these resources into Palestine [i.e., Gaza] , but it became more a public relations mission to change the outward look of the Hamas government. So instead of giving resources and energy toward the people of Gaza, which was our intention, what I saw happening was we were giving our resources toward the government of Gaza. . . . And the international implications were huge, because imagine if you came on this kind of mission, and you promised to go give resources or your time to this non-governmental organization, and you end up giving your resources to Hamas, and you come back home to Wisconsin or Denver or wherever youre from, and you get a letter or a knock on the door saying What are you doing over there dancing with these terrorist organizations? And that can literally happen . . . [emphasis added].
In light of this additional troubling information, the ZOA stressed the need for immediate action. The ZOA urged the Justice Department to investigate (1) the activities of George Galloway and Viva Palestina to determine if in fact Viva Palestina has been providing material support and resources to Hamas, a U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, in violation of federal law; (2) the conduct that occurred at UC Irvine and other venues such as American University, DePaul University, Rutgers University, and Pennsylvania State University, where funds may have been solicited for Viva Palestina; and (3) whether Galloway should be denied entry into the U.S. should he seek to return, particularly in light of the third convoy to Gaza he is planning, according to the IPT report. Canadian officials have already denied Galloways entry into Canada based on national security grounds, and a federal court judge in Canada upheld that decision. The ZOA noted that U.S. law renders aliens ineligible to enter the United States if they, among other things, solicit funds or things of value for a terrorist organization.
In its letter to Diane Fields Geocaris, UC Irvines Chief Campus Counsel and Associate General Counsel, the ZOA thanked UC Irvine for its important and positive response to the concerns that the ZOA had previously raised about the Muslim Student Union (because of its fundraising for Viva Palestina), and about University officials (because they knew or should have known that fundraising had not been approved and yet they did nothing to stop it). When the ZOA had originally contacted UC Irvine with its concerns, Ms. Geocaris responded that UC Irvine takes very seriously all allegations of wrongdoing. We appreciate your [the ZOA] bringing this to our attention. Ms. Geocaris represented that with regard to the ZOAs concern that that the MSU may have illegally used the campus as a base for fundraising for a terrorist group in violation of federal law, the University had referred that matter to law enforcement officials. As to the ZOAs concern that the conduct of the MSU and University employees may have violated University polices, Ms. Geocaris responded that UC Irvine has initiated an internal review of these matters.
Last Friday, in light of the Investigative Project on Terrorism report and the information disclosed by a participant on the Viva Palestina convoy in July 2009, the ZOA asked UC Irvine to which officials the Universitys report was made, when and how the report was made, and how these officials have responded. In addition, the ZOA asked about the status of the Universitys internal review and when the University expects to complete it. The ZOA assured Ms. Geocaris that it would be of assistance to you in any way we can.
The ZOA sent copies of its letters to the Justice Department and UC Irvine to several officials and others, including UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, UC President Mark Yudof, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, U.S. Representatives John Campbell and Brad Sherman, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, and the Chairpersons, Ranking Members, and Members of the following congressional committees: the House Committee on Education and Labor; the House Committee on Appropriations; the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; the House Committee on Homeland Security; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.
The ZOAs National President, Morton A. Klein, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the director of the ZOAs Center for Law and Justice, underscored the need for an immediate and thorough investigation by both the Justice Department and UC Irvine: Evidence is emerging that George Galloways Viva Palestina convoy has not been about providing humanitarian aid; its about supporting Hamas, a terrorist group that has murdered and maimed many, many innocent people. Members of the public who rightly worry about international terrorism should be very concerned about the possibility that terrorism is being supported and promoted right here on our college campuses. Our government and those who run our universities have an obligation to the public to make sure that that isnt happening — or if it is, that the conduct is stopped immediately and those who are promoting and allowing it are held accountable.