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08 December 2005

2 guys who say they're Jews (but maybe they're lying) get into a really ugly nasty fight

You know the Cliquez Ici drill.

Actually this nasty fight began ten years ago, when the US Justice Department (I guess that means the FBI) first began investigating the activities of Sami al-Arian, who was then a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida, and a fiery anti-Israel activist.

Subsequently 9/11/01 and the Patriot Act happened.

Finally they indicted and arrested al-Arian and brought him to trial in a federal court in Florida. On Tuesday, the jury brought in its verdict. Read all about it on Vleeptron!

You can also read all about it on a website out of Quebec, Canada, sometimes en anglais, sometimes en francais, called judeoscope. This site's a little -- comment d'it on? -- differently flavored from Vleeptron. I found it when I was clicking around for stuff about al-Arian.

I found it. And then down at the bottom, it had this innocent little button that said COMMENTS.

Well, you know how much Bob Loves Them Comments!

This is the nasty International fight so far, Pete hasn't replied. Did gefilte fisherman destroy Pete? (See illustration above.) Or is Pete taking a bus to the USA to continue this dialogue in person?

(btw, this is just the way Jews scream at each other all the time.)


Reactions to the Al-Arian’s acquittal

7 December 2005, par gefilte fisherman

Hi, Salut,

I’m an American Jew. Maybe this site’s Canadian/Quebec orientation puts a different focus on this issue from the focus I view it in.

Posting the US federal government’s *indictment* of Al-Arian makes available a lurid and inflammatory littany of his evil deeds.

But that’s just what the U.S. government *says* he did.

When the matter finally came to US federal criminal court, Al-Arian got his chance to present his defense. A jury heard both sides, and then, in the privacy of the jury room, decided which side to believe.

Interestingly enough, after weeks of the government presenting its case to the jury, Al_Arian’s lawyers presented no defense case at all. They presented no witnesses. One of Al-Arian’s lawyers simply said to the judge: "The defense rests."

After that, two things happened before the jury retired to consider its verdict: The defense lawyer made a Closing Argument to the jury (and so did the Prosecutor); and the Judge gave instructions to the jury.

In those instructions, the judge explained to the jurors that the burden of proof lies entirely with the Government; the Government was obliged to present evidence and testimony so compelling that it proved the Government’s case "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Obviously the jurors did not believe the Government had met its burden of proof. Following the Judge’s instructions, they were responsibly bound to acquit. They did the right thing in acquitting.

There was also a government indictment in the 1913 child-murder trial of Mendel Beilis in Czarist Russia. And like the US Government’s indictment of Al-Arian, it makes inflammatory, lurid reading.

When the Czar’s "Justice Department" accused a Jew of a notorious crime, a show trial followed, but the verdict was never in doubt: Guilty.

America, thank God, is not Czarist Russia. Every accused has the Constitutional Right to a fair trial, a vigorous defense, and the verdict of an independent jury.

I have no perfect knowledge of The Objective Truth about Al-Arian’s activities. Like the jury, all I can do is try to listen to both sides, and determine the more likely truth.

What I heard, and what the jury heard (some jurors have spoken to the press) is that Al-Arian was a ferocious, even despicable, hater of Israel, and an equally ferocious advocate for Palestinian independence.

With his mouth, primarily. And with his typing fingers. Occasionally with his checkbook.

It should be noted that the Palestinian organization to which Al-Arian donated was not put on the US Government’s "terrorist organization" list until well AFTER Al-Arian made his donations. This is more than a technicality or a loophole. To be a crime, an act must have been committed AFTER the law said the act was a crime. (Otherwise the government is free to pass any criminal law and to try to convict people for acts they committed long ago -- when they weren’t crimes. The US government had been conducting its criminal investigation of Al-Arian for ten years before he was finally brought to trial.)

I think Al-Arian has one of the worst cases of Political Bad Breath -- we call it Controversial Political Speech -- in the USA. Or offensive speech, or objectionable, disgusting, deporable ...

But it’s still Speech. Our Constitution (Article One of the Bill of Rights) protects Free Speech and Free Political Expression.

When this protection of Al-Arian’s offensive speech is extinguished ... how safe will American Jews be to express their most heart-felt political beliefs. Is it a certainty, for example, that Congress and the White House will always be strong, cordial supporters of Israel? If the federal government shifts to an Israel-hostile foreign policy ... how free will American Jews and Zionists be to continue their zealous political activities on behalf of Israel?

Or will American Jews and Zionists start being indicted and tried for their political Bad Breath, for their Unpopular Speech?

Several jurors, maybe all twelve, thought: If we send this man to prison for his political activities and his unpopular opinions ... what might happen to me if I want to express an unpopular opinion?

I’m an American Jew, and I’m thrilled at this verdict. I am certain it’s made me safer -- certainly from the American government’s overreaching power grab since 9-11 and the anticonstitutional Patriot Act.

Muslim-Americans are rejoicing, that’s no surprise.

Well, this Jewish American is rejoicing, and for the same reasons. If that’s a surprise -- it shouldn’t really be to thoughtful people.


7 December 2005, par Pete

The evidence presented by the prosecution may have failed to convince the jurors, but it convinced scores of fair-minded individuals, be they American, Jewish or whatever. The freedom of speech and thought you claim to cherish allows one to question and criticize the jury’s decision. As well, making the indictment document public (a pleonasm, since it IS public) could only be characterized as "inflammatory" by someone who actually believes the USA is Czarist Russia. Your political bad breath argument is beneath contempt. "Unpopular" speech as well as hate speech are not only tolerated in the USA, they are protected. Review the evidence and dare say Al-Arian was all talk. The scoundrel actively raised funds for a murderous gang, be it pre or post terror legislation. I am happy for you that you feel safer after the acquittal of a man who obviously raised funds for an organization bent on murdering Jews on the technicality of whether or not these funds were allocated to buy the murderous explosives or clothe the orphans of Palestinian terrorists. When facing "liberal" sophistry such as the sample you provided, I wish I could be as care-free as you are. Oh, and if you are Jewish, why do you have to repeat is so often, and what does it matter?


7 December 2005, par gefilte fisherman

Well, somewhat point by point ...

I meant only to introduce myself to this forum regarding this topic as a Jew.

I rather wish you hadn’t responded "If you are Jewish ...". Are you Jewish? Or are you just pretending to be a Jew to fool other members of this forum? From your tone, I suspect you’d be outraged if I had any doubt about your being Jewish.

It would perhaps have been more civil and decent of you to take my introduction at face value. But if you want to fixate on my suspect Jewishness, let me know what identification and bona fides would satisfy you, I’ll see what I can do.

Indeed, besides the jury, anyone the world over is free to have his own opinion of Al-Arian’s activities. After reading some of this site, I certainly didn’t expect to win over thousands to my view. My view is not that I know or believe Al-Arian is some kind of innocent saint. My view is simply that the US government, with all its resources, with a decade of investigating, and with the "relaxed" wiretapping rules of the new Patriot Act, couldn’t convince the jury of Al-Arian’s activities.

Clearly the US government convinced you.

But for what just happened, the only opinions that mattered, under our constitutional system of criminal law, were the 12 opinions on the jury.

Everything beyond their verdict is just ... dinner table arguing. To send this man to prison, which you clearly think he deserved, required that jury to find Al-Arian guilty.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe the jury was wrong. But in the business of crime and punishment, you don’t count and I don’t count. Only that jury counts.

Your opinion will be elevated to that same all-important status the next time you serve on a jury.

America’s history goes through seasons of "hate weather." Sometimes the hate weather is against Japanese-Americans (they were interned in detention camps and their property seized during World War II, though no Japanese-American was ever convicted of a crime against the American war effort).

Sometimes the hate weather is against African-Americans. And if they were lucky enough to get their day in court (without being lynched first), Americans my age or older are unhappily familiar with the phrase "all-white jury."

And sometimes -- far too often -- the hate weather has been against American Jews.

And justice is always the first thing to be corrupted and tainted against the ethnic/religious target of the season.

This season, the hate weather is against Muslims and Muslim-Americans. (Incidentally, another high-profile federal anti-terrorism case against Muslims, in Ohio, fell apart last year -- and the PROSECUTOR may end up facing criminal charges for misconduct and suborning perjury.)

It’s almost a certainty Al-Arian’s jury had neither Muslims nor Jews on it. And if the weather should once again turn against Jews, that’s exactly the kind of jury I might face when it’s politically popular for the government to prosecute Jews with dubious, flimsy indictments.

The kind of skepticism Al-Arian’s jury had for the government’s case -- that will be the final safety that American Jews will be able to pin their hopes for justice on.

And finally ... it’s not sophistry. My respect for and my wish to protect the American jury system was taught me by my public school American government teachers. All my subsequent reading and experience has just added to the original textbook lessons I learned about the independent judiciary and the English common law jury system.


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