Viva P. Raised Funds at
UC Irvine and Elsewhere
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praises Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC), the founder of the bipartisan congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, for urging the U.S. Treasury Department to designate Viva Palestina under Executive Order 13224 for its support of the terrorist group Hamas. A designation under the Order provides a way to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terror groups, by authorizing the U.S. government to block the designated groups assets. Viva Palestina, founded by radical and Israel-bashing British politician George Galloway, is supposedly a charitable organization that sends convoys of vehicles, money and goods to Gaza. But as Congresswoman Myrick detailed in a letter dated January 11, 2010, to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Viva Palestina actively provides financial and political support to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Congresswoman called on the Treasury Department to swiftly take action to designate Viva Palestina as a supporter of a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and thus prevent this group from continuing to provide material and/or financial aid to Hamas. (To read Congresswoman Myricks letter, click here.)
Prior to the Congresswomans letter, the ZOA had written to her to bring to her attention the troubling possibility that the University of California, Irvine, and perhaps other college campuses, were used as a base for fundraising for the terrorist group Hamas in violation of U.S. law. In a letter dated October 23, 2009, the ZOA informed Congresswoman Myrick that in May 2009, a student group at UC Irvine called the Muslim Student Union had hosted Galloway on campus to speak about Viva Palestina. Both Galloway and members of the Muslim Student Union solicited funds from the over 850 people in the audience for Galloways Viva Palestina convoy. The ZOA pointed out evidence including a report issued by noted terrorist expert Steve Emersons Investigative Project on Terrorism that the Viva Palestina convoys to Gaza have provided material support and resources to the terrorist group Hamas. (To read the ZOAs letter to Congresswoman Myrick, click here.)
In seeking Viva Palestinas designation under Executive Order 13224, Congresswoman Sue Myrick described to Treasury Secretary Geithner the three Viva Palestina convoys to Gaza so far. The first originated in the United Kingdom; as the Congresswoman wrote, it gave thousands of British pounds of aid and tens of vehicles to the Hamas government. The convoy also included 12 ambulances, a fire engine and 1 million pounds (approximately $1.4 million U.S.), which was directly given to Ziad al-Zaza, the Economy Minister of the Hamas government.
Congresswoman Myrick pointed out in her letter that Galloway himself acknowledged his direct contribution to Hamas, when he 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, to the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
The second convoy originated from the U.S. and left for Gaza in July 2009. In describing the preparations for this convoy, Congresswoman Myrick wrote that Viva Palestina held more than 20 fundraisers in cities throughout the United States between April and June 2009. Galloway traveled around the country and spoke at most of the fundraisers, some held at college campuses. A fundraiser on July 2nd 2009 in Kansas City raised $103,000 in a single evening. That night Galloway also claimed to have raised $2 million for the convoy in the U.S.
As stated in Congresswoman Myricks letter, [t]he convoy gave the donations its raised through fundraising events in the United States [which presumably included the Muslim Student Unions event at UC Irvine] to an organization in Gaza called Expertise in Consulting and Development (CODE), a group which has received funding from the Union of the Good, designated by the U.S. under Executive Order 13224 in 2008.
Congresswoman Myrick reported that because of a blockade imposed by Egypt, this second convoy spent only 24 hours in Gaza. But she said that the Viva Palestina group met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and visited Hamas-run facilities, including the Ministry of Prisoners whose mission is to help families of so-called Palestinian martyrs in Israeli jails. Martyrs are suicide bombers who died while deliberately murdering Israeli Jews.
In addition to describing Viva Palestinas direct contributions to Hamas and contributions via a Hamas-linked NGO, Congresswoman Myrick wrote that Viva Palestina also provided political cover for the terrorist organization. The Congresswoman reported that during the convoy in March 2009, Galloway stated, This is not charity. This is politics.
Congresswoman Myrick said that the third Viva Palestina convoy, an international effort including groups from the U.S., planned to arrive in Gaza on December 27th. The Congresswoman described that the convoy partner[ed] with the radical British group Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and also with Turkish-based IHH, an organization which was banned by the Israeli government in 2008 for its ties to Hamas.
A report from Steve Emersons Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), issued on January 8, 2010, revealed that Egyptian officials delayed this third convoys crossing into Gaza and did not permit all the vehicles in the convoy to go through. Convoy organizers protested and violence broke out, leaving dozens injured and an Egyptian soldier shot dead, as reported by the IPT. The report also noted that Egypt ended up deporting Galloway, and may not allow him back into the country. (Galloway has already been banned from Canada and Congressman Brad Sherman [D-CA] has already raised the question of whether Galloway should be barred from entering the U.S.) (To read the IPT report, click here.)
The ZOAs National President, Morton A. Klein, said, We strongly commend Congresswoman Myricks actions. The Congresswoman understands that one essential means of fighting terrorism is to cut off the support and funding of terrorists and terror organizations. Our government must do everything it can to stop groups like Viva Palestina from supporting and aiding the terrorist group Hamas. This is especially important because Viva Palestina has been falsely portrayed as a humanitarian group, and Galloway and others are soliciting funds for this group on our own college campuses. There is evidence that this occurred at UC Irvine, and UC Irvine has pledged to investigate. Congresswoman Myrick has taken an important step in disrupting the support network for terrorists and terrorist groups that exists here in the U.S. All of our colleges and universities must do their part and be vigilant in ensuring that their campuses are not used as a base for fundraising for terrorists and terrorism.