ZOA: Why Is Justice Department Ignoring Evidence That Muslim Students Illegally Raised Money For Hamas On Campus?
July 23, 2010


Also Ignored Black Panthers’

Violation of Voting Rights Law





The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) today questioned whether the U.S. Department of Justice has let political considerations get in the way of its obligation to enforce anti-terrorism laws fairly and impartially.  Beginning in September 2009 and for months thereafter, the ZOA furnished the Justice Department with evidence strongly suggesting that funds were solicited for the terrorist group Hamas at the University of California, Irvine and possibly other campuses.  Federal law prohibits providing material support or resources to a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, such as Hamas.  See 18 U.S.C. § 2339B.  Based on the evidence, the ZOA, U.S. Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), the Anti-Defamation League, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – the umbrella group for over 52 Jewish groups across the religious and political spectrums – have all called on the Department to investigate and determine whether federal laws have been violated.  Yet there is no indication that the Department is investigating the case or prosecuting wrongdoers.


The case arose on May 21, 2009, when a registered student group at UC Irvine called the Muslim Student Union sponsored a speech on campus by extremist British politician and Israel-basher George Galloway.  (The Muslim Student Union is no longer permitted to sponsor campus speakers or programs.  In June, the university suspended the Muslim Student Union for the 2010-2011 academic year, placed the group on probation for an additional academic year, and required 50 hours of community service, because of the group’s anti-Israel activities.)  Galloway spoke about his group called “Viva Palestina,” which has been bringing convoys of vehicles, goods and money to Hamas-controlled Gaza.


Both the Muslim Student Union and George Galloway solicited funds for Viva Palestina from the more than 850 people in the audience at UC Irvine.  Collection boxes were passed around, and volunteers were designated to collect them.  The event – including the solicitation of funds – was videotaped, and witnesses confirm that the fundraising occurred.


Supposedly Viva Palestina is a humanitarian effort, dedicated to helping the people of Gaza.  But there is evidence that Viva Palestina has been providing material support and resources to Hamas in Gaza.  When Galloway arrived in Gaza with his Viva Palestina convoy in March 2009, his public address was broadcast on Arab television.  In the presence of several senior Hamas officials, he publicly proclaimed, “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.”  Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Hamas’ minister of social affairs hailed Galloway as a “hero.”


A rapper known as M1 of Dead Prez participated in the July 2009 Viva Palestina convoy.  He was interviewed about his experience on September 28, 2009 (the interview is available on line), and stated, “What I saw happening was we were giving our resources toward the government of Gaza,” [i.e., Hamas].


In October 2009, the Investigative Project on Terrorism – led by nationally-recognized terrorism expert Steve Emerson – issued a 31-page report documenting that Viva Palestina’s objective is not charitable but to provide support to Hamas.  The report states:  “Viva Palestina’s most visible leaders call for the elimination of the State of Israel . . . They treat Hamas leaders as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and provide both material and moral support to the terrorist organization.”


Galloway has been banned from Canada on national security grounds, because of his having provided material support to Hamas.  In January 2010, Egypt deported Galloway after his convoy tried to cross into Gaza and clashed with Egyptian officials. 


Beginning in September 2009, the ZOA notified the Justice Department about the solicitation of funds for Viva Palestina at UC Irvine on May 21, 2009, and began furnishing the Department with evidence as it developed, regarding Galloway’s conduct and regarding Viva Palestina and its support of Hamas.  The ZOA urged the Justice Department to investigate whether federal anti-terrorism laws had been violated when Galloway and the Muslim Student Union solicited funds for Viva Palestina at UC Irvine. 

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (who is Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade), the Anti-Defamation League, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also urged the Justice Department to investigate. 


In November 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked the ZOA for a copy of the videotaped footage from the Galloway event at UC Irvine, which showed the solicitation of funds by Galloway and the Muslim Student Union.  The ZOA immediately supplied the footage and also offered witnesses to the FBI who would confirm that the fundraising had occurred.  The FBI never asked for the names of the witnesses.  To date, there is no indication that the Justice Department or anyone from federal law enforcement is pursuing the case to determine if federal anti-terrorism laws have been violated.


Whether the Justice Department is abdicating its responsibility to enforce federal law arose recently in another case, this time involving a federal civil rights law regarding voter intimidation.  On Election Day 2008, two New Black Panther Party members were videotaped at a polling place in a predominantly black area of Philadelphia.  The video, available on line, shows both men dressed in paramilitary clothing and combat boots. One of the men carried a club.  Both hurled racial epithets at poll watchers.  


In January 2009, the Justice Department filed suit against the two men, the chairman of the New Black Panther Party, and the party itself under the Voting Rights Act, alleging voter intimidation.  None of the defendants contested the Justice Department’s charges and the Department was about to seek a default judgment against all four defendants and an injunction to prevent any further acts of intimidation.  But on the eve of the date that the court had set to hear the Department’s request for a default judgment, the trial attorneys handling the case were instructed by a superior in the Justice Department to ask that the hearing be postponed.


The four trial attorneys, as well as two attorneys in the Justice Department’s appellate section, were all of the opinion that the case should proceed against all four defendants. 

But the Department dropped the charges against the New Black Panther Party, its chairman, and the man who wasn’t carrying the club at the Philadelphia polling place.  It proceeded only against the man with the club and obtained an injunction, narrow in scope, preventing him from carrying a weapon near an open polling place in Philadelphia through 2012. 


The Department’s decision to drop the case against the New Black Panther Party caused J. Christian Adams, a federal prosecutor who helped prepare the case against the party, to resign from the Justice Department in protest.  When the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opened an investigation into the matter, Adams testified before the Commission and criticized the Department’s handling of the New Black Panther Party case, suggesting that the Department was not enforcing the law to protect white voters from intimidation by African Americans.  Adams testified, “We abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens.” 


The Justice Department has denied that race was a motive in deciding not to proceed with the case, even though there apparently was no new evidence uncovered that would have led the Department to abruptly change course from seeking a default judgment against all four defendants to proceeding against only one of them.  Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, testified before the Civil Rights Commission to explain the Department’s conduct, saying that “reasonable minds can differ” about the case.


Morton A. Klein, ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, expressed concern about the possibility that the Justice Department is not fulfilling its responsibility to enforce the law fairly and impartially, and that instead, it might be motivated by political considerations or other considerations not based on the evidence in each of these cases:  “There is compelling evidence that the Justice Department may have been motivated by race when it decided not to prosecute the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party – that Department officials were reluctant to enforce the law to protect white people’s civil rights against African American violators.


“We can’t help but be concerned about whether political considerations are also at play in the UC Irvine case.  George Galloway and the Muslim Student Union solicited funds on an American college campus that may well have gone to support Hamas, a U.S.-recognized terrorist group that calls for the murder of Jews and Israel’s destruction.


“The Justice Department has been silent about whether it is investigating UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union and George Galloway for breaking the law, so there is no way of knowing for sure what the Department is doing or not doing.  But there is certainly evidence that federal anti-terrorism laws may have been violated.  The Justice Department has a duty to pursue that evidence, investigate the situation thoroughly and prosecute wrongdoers, all political considerations aside.


“The prospect that an American college campus may have been used to raise funds for a terrorist group is frightening.  It’s equally frightening that law enforcement knows about the conduct and yet may have decided not to do anything about it.  Particularly when we’re in the middle of a war against Islamist terrorism, all of us should be concerned about whether the Justice Department is doing everything it can and should be doing to protect and defend us.”


Our Mission
The ZOA speaks out for Israel – in reports, newsletters, and other publications. In speeches in synagogues, churches, and community events, in high schools and colleges from coast to coast. In e-mail action alerts. In op-eds and letters to the editor. In radio and television appearances by ZOA leaders. Always on the front lines of pro-Israel activism, ZOA has made its mark.
Center for Law & Justice
We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.