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Congressman Brad Sherman misinterprets 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act while attacking US Constitutional Rights
When the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was passed following the Oklahoma City bombing, many Muslim and Arab Americans charged that the Act is unconstitutional, and that it was unfairly aimed at Muslims and Arabs, even though it was proven that Muslims and Arabs had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City Bombing. Of course the Department of Justice and other US law enforcement officials countered such charges, saying that the Act was not intended for anything except to effectively fight terrorism, no matter the race, religion, ethnicity or nationality of an individual perpetrator, group or foreign country.
Listening to California Congressman Brad Sherman, who is one of the many Zionist and Jewish politicians who found it politically expedient to congratulate Israel for its May 2010 massacre of 9 unarmed humanitarian aide activists on a Turkish ship bound for Gaza, one would think that Muslim and Arab suspicions were true. According to Sherman, the Act says it is “illegal for US citizens to give food, money, school supplies, paper clips, concrete or weapons to Hamas and Gaza’s civilian population.” As it turns out, this is merely Sherman’s interpretation of the Act. The Act never mentions, Gaza, or Hamas and is aimed exclusively at foreign terrorists and foreign governments that support or commit acts of terrorism. The aim of the Act is to prevent US citizens from fundraising and providing material support to terrorist organizations, states, and individuals that commit acts of terrorism and that provide material support for terrorism. Taking into consideration that Israel is accused of committing war crimes and crimes of aggression as well as crimes against humanity in an illegal assault on Gaza that left 1500 Palestinians, mostly woman and children dead, the Act could very easily be interpreted to also include Israel, the Israeli army and the illegal Jewish settlers among those targeted for prosecution by the Act.
Of course Sherman did not mention that fact. His objective was to use the law exactly in the way that US Muslims and Arabs had said it would be used, namely to target Muslims and Arabs. It appears that Sherman had hoped to create a novel interpretation of the Act that would be used to chill Muslim and Arab Constitutional rights to free speech and also dissent, and that would reinforce the wrong idea that Hamas is a terrorist organization and is therefore subject to the Act, along with any US citizen that would fundraise or send money to Gaza in an attempt to provide humanitarian aide to a people suffering, what the UN has designated a humanitarian crisis. In fact, following Israel’s flotilla massacre, the Obama administration pledged 400 million dollars to Gaza in humanitarian aide. Sherman did not call for the arrest of President Obama, nor of secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
In Sherman’s highly politicized interpretation of the Act, Sherman failed to mention the fact that the US Constitution protects the rights of US Citizens to protest and also to use our speech, which the Supreme Court has said includes our money and fundraising, to support our political positions and also to oppose and dissent from our government’s official positions. Along with that, Article 6 of the US Constitution says, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding” which means that provisions within the Act must be reconciled with the Geneva Conventions, to which the US is a signor. According to both the Bush and Obama administrations, the US stands by and abides by the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions protects, rather than criminalizes the Palestinian resistance militias and the resistance movement.
According to the Joint Publication 1-02, the United States Department of Defense defines a resistance movement as "an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability". It says: “In strict military terminology, a resistance movement is simply that; it seeks to resist (change) the policies of a government or occupying power. This may be accomplished though violent or non-violent means. A resistance movement is specifically limited to changing the nature of current power, not to overthrow it.” The correct military term for removing or overthrowing a government is an insurgency. Also, Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions defines legal combatants as:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
In its 49th session, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as recently as 1993, adopted resolution E/CN.4/ RES/1993/2 (A & B), recognizing and affirming the right of the Palestinian people to resistance against the illegal occupation by all means.” It states the following:
The Commission on Human Rights,
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as by the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Guided also by the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
2. Affirms the right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation by all means, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, consistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as has been expressed by the Palestinian people in their brave intifada since December 1987, in legitimate resistance against the Israeli military occupation;
Israel’s bogus claim that Gaza is no longer under military occupation is undermined by Israel’s simultaneous claim to a right to control Gaza’s borders, airspace and waterways. Its routine invasions, detainments of Gazans and other acts intended to maintain illegal control and authority over Gaza, further undermines Israel’s erroneous claim that Gaza is not under Israeli military occupation.
Article 6 of the US Constitutions says clearly that our treaties are the Supreme law of the land, and our military code recognizes by definition that the Palestinian resistance fighters are lawful combatants. Since statutory law overrides Executive orders , Bill Clinton’s attempt to criminalize the Palestinian resistance is merely a political ploy that was designed to create a legal context for Israel’s brutal violence in Gaza and the West Bank, and its illegal targeted assassinations of resistance leaders and activists. Clinton’s executive order which attempts to reduce the Palestinian resistance to mere terrorism is the pretext within which many of the worst criminal acts carried out by Israel against the people of Palestine have claimed legality. It is also the legal framework within which Sherman is emboldened to call for the arrests of US citizens for attempting to travel to Gaza, and to deliver humanitarian aide.
While seemingly anxious to please his AIPAC cronies and Zionist financial backers, Sherman seems to have lost sight of the fact that according to the Act, there may be some arrests to be made within his own circle of pro-Israel Zionists. He said in his highly publicized press release that he “will be asking the Attorney General to prosecute any American involved in what is clearly an effort to give items of value to terrorists.” That might include the California branch of the JDL that have been linked to the US State Department designated terrorist organization known as Kahane Chai, whose members were convicted of attempting to carry out terrorists attacks here in the US against an elected official. It might also include leaders of an entire network of synagogues, churches and Christian and Jewish charitable organizations that routinely raise money and transfer funds to Israel in support of the radical extremist settlers, many of whom are US citizens, and who routinely shoot, kill, harass and illegally confiscate the property of Palestinian citizens. Most of these illegal settlers are self confessed members of the Kahane movement, which is linked to Kahane Chai in ideology if not by card carrying memberships. In a New York Times article written by Neil Lewis, he states that Kahane Chai “advocates the restoration of the Biblical state of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from Israel.” This is also the mantra of nearly every illegal Jewish settler in Palestine.
Among the list of US Jews arrested for acts of terrorism against Palestinians in Palestine are the confessed terrorists Jack Teity who murdered two Palestinians and wounded at least three. His murder victims included a 57 year old Palestinian shepherd murdered simply because he was not Jewish. Teity traveled between the US and Israel for 12 years carrying out his terrorist acts without ever being stopped and questioned or arrested. Teity, in his confession, stated that he smuggled the sub machine gun used in his killings, past a British airline’s security. Another US Jew who carried out an act of terrorism against Palestinians inside Palestine is Barak Goldstein who slaughtered 20 Palestinians in Hebron mosque. He is called a Jewish martyr, even though he shot his unarmed victims from behind with a fully automatic machine gun as they prostrated in prayer.
In the article, “Israel arrests settlers it says tried to bomb Palestinians” by New York Times columnist John Kifner, Kifner wrote: “Shin Bet uncovered a suspected Jewish network that apparently planned to bomb two or more Palestinian schools.” According to Kifner, “Israeli police confiscated sub machine guns, and Israeli military issued explosives.” He said the bombs were set to go off at 7:35 am, the time when most Palestinian students would arrive at the schools.” Kifner identified the leader of the network as Noam Federman, a leader of the Kach movement.
There is another interpretation of the Act, contrary to Sherman’s which suggests that Sherman himself could possibly be designated a supporter of international terrorism, since it appears that he might be abusing the power of his office and US taxpayer money in an attempt to provide political and legal cover for Israel’s terrorist act of piracy and murder of 9 human rights activists, carried out in international waters, and without provocation. A Congressional Research Service summary of the Act states that:
“Title I of the Act ‘enlarges proscriptions against assisting in the commission of acts of terrorism. It adjusts the Foreign Assistance Act to help isolate countries who support terrorists. “
Ironically the activists targeted by Sherman’s threats of arrest for exercising their Constitutional rights might actually be assisted against Israel by the Act which, according to the same summary, “expands the circumstances under which foreign governments that support terrorism may be sued for resulting injuries, and increases the assistance and compensation available to victims of terrorism.” The family of the US citizen killed by Israel on one of the flotilla boats with 4 shots through his brain and one through his heart might also look into the provisions of the Act seeking legal relief.
Why Congressman Brad Sherman felt compelled to attack the US members of the flotilla with an Anti-Terrorism statute is anyone’s guess. What we can be sure of is that US law is aimed at protecting the rights of citizens, their property and their persons, and not foreign governments. In his haste to arrest these citizens he obviously forgot the spirit, or intent of the Act, and depended too heavily upon his own misguided and highly politicized interpretation.
4. Cited in the article “Rep. Sherman” Prosecute US Citizens involved with Freedom Flotilla” Modoweiss.com
6. Summary of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist, American Law Division of the Congressional Research Service
7. Appeals Court Upholds Terrorist Label for a Jewish Group, New York Times, 10/06.
8. Israel Arrests Settlers It says Tried to Bomb Palestinians” New York Times, 5/19/2002
FBI Raided a Brooklyn Community Center led by Member of Kahane Chai, New York Times