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PORTSIDE  December 2010, Week 3

PORTSIDE December 2010, Week 3

Subject:

Been to Israel/Palestine lately? The FBI may come knocking on your door

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 16 Dec 2010 22:20:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (162 lines)

Been to Israel/Palestine lately? The FBI may come knocking
on your door.

by Cecilie Surasky

MuzzleWatch - Jewish Voice for Peace

December 15, 2010

http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2010/12/15/yes-virginia-the-fbi-really-can-subpoena-you-just-for-going-to-palestine/

By the time she was in high school, Sarah Smith had already
been named one of the 100 most influential women in Chicago
by Chicago's business magazine, Crain's. Now Smith, who
happens to be Jewish, has been subpoenaed by the FBI to
appear before a grand jury on January 25 to explain her trip
to Israel-Palestine with two Palestinian women friends. (As
terrifying as this whole episode is for everyone involved,
it says something about Palestinian safety that only Smith
has come forward publicly.) All three young Chicago
residents have been subpoenaed, joining ranks with 14 other
peace activists from the Midwest who have been similarly
targeted in recent months.

Here is Sarah Smith's full statement from a December 6 press
conference:

    Friday morning, December 3, I received a phone call from
    an FBI agent. He asked if I had about 30 minutes to sit
    down and speak with him so he could ask me some
    questions. I asked about what and he said he "was not at
    liberty to discuss it." I then asked if I needed a
    lawyer present and he said it was up to me but that I
    was not in any trouble and that they just had a few
    questions.

    I felt something suspicious about him telling me he
    wanted to ask me some questions, but he would not tell
    me what these questions were. So I said that I had to
    consult a lawyer and check my schedule and that I would
    get back to him. I reiterated that it would be easier
    for me to meet him if I knew why an FBI agent wanted to
    sit down with me. He then said that it had to deal with
    the trip I took this summer. He then emphasized, "I
    think you know which one I'm talking about."

    The trip I took last summer was to Israel and Palestine.
    I am Jewish and wanted to see first hand what life is
    like for Israelis and Palestinians. If I went on the
    standard tour to Israel, I would not be shown how
    Palestinians live. So I went on a tour that showed me
    both worlds, Israel, and the Israeli occupied
    Palestinian West Bank. I went with 2 Palestinian-
    American friends. You would think Jews and Palestinians
    going together to visit Israel and Palestine is
    something the U.S. government would encourage.

    Instead, we are now being ordered by the FBI to go
    before a Grand Jury for going on that trip. The US
    government says it supports peace between Israel and
    Palestine. It says it supports separate Israeli and
    Palestinian states.

    So why does the FBI investigate us because we went to
    see the Palestinian land? Top US government leaders meet
    with Palestinian leaders, so why does the FBI
    investigate us because we talked to average Palestinians
    on the street?

    I went there so I could make up my own mind and talk
    about what I saw. It seems to me our government wants to
    hide what Israel is doing to Palestinians. I would like
    to thank the Committee Against Political Repression for
    standing up for me and my friends. You can learn about
    case at stopFBI.net, and please make a donation there.
    Or you can make a donation for our legal expenses: to
    NLG Foundation, memo line: FBI raids and mail it to
    Sarah Smith, 2961 S. Bonaparte, Chicago, IL 60608

Smith's father, Stan Smith,  added "I think Patrick
Fitzgerald, the US District Attorney, Robert Parker of the
FBI need to see my daughter and her friends and apologize to
them. And I think President Obama, who was elected in 2008
because he said he would stop this sort of thing, should
make a point on his next trip to Chicago to personally
apologize to my daughter and her friends for how his
government is intimidating them."

Meanwhile, there are actions across the country to protest
this crackdown on peace activists (sign the petition here).
Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola has this report:

    The hunting down of activists began on September 24th
    when the FBI raided homes and offices of activists from
    Minneapolis and Chicago. Computers, phones, documents
    and other personal items were seized and the FBI
    officially subpoenaed 14 activists to appear before a
    Grand Jury. The FBI began to contact members of the
    "peace community" and ask them what they knew about the
    subpoenaed activists' "material support for terrorism."

    The attorneys representing the activists have noted "the
    current definition of "material support' can cover just
    about anything, like providing humanitarian aid that
    ends up in the hands of a group tagged as `terrorist' by
    the US government, or posting a link to an informational
    website. The implications of this law, as it is being
    used, are troubling to anyone who does community
    organizing, or anyone who does journalistic reporting or
    academic research on wars, conflicts or controversial
    movements."

    Months later, the activists in Minneapolis and Chicago
    have not been charged with a crime, but they continue to
    face possible jail time if they refuse to go before a
    Grand Jury and participate in this "witch hunt." They
    have yet to have their belongings, which were seized by
    the FBI, returned.

Democracy anyone?

[Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace,
joined JVP in 2003 as part of a Ford Foundation human rights
fellowship, and brings extensive experience in social
justice communications and advocacy. She is the granddaughter
of Zionist Socialist activists, and her analyses of Israel-
Palestine politics have appeared in numerous media outlets
around the world. Cecilie graduated from Brown University
with a BA in Religious Studies with special honors for her
work in Modern Culture and Media. She is the founder of
Muzzlewatch, JVP's acclaimed blog documenting efforts to
silence open debate about Israel-Palestine policy.]

==========

FBI Continues to Target Activists

At the time of this posting, 19 activists have been targeted
by the FBI.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWnsNqfpYUk

==========

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