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Ben Hecht & Sami Al-Arian: What’s the Difference?
by William Hughes
Email: liamhughes (nospam) comcast.net
29 Jun 2005
The late Ben Hecht tried to save the Jews of Europe from the Nazi onslaught. Sami Al-Arian is struggling to lift the cruel Israeli occupation off the backs of the Palestinians. Hecht was praised for his First Amendment efforts, while Al-Arian faces trial in Florida “for supporting terrorism!” A devout Muslim, he has been a leader in the Tampa, Florida community. Al-Arian has also been fired from his tenured teaching position at the U. of South Florida.
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In the early 1940s, in America, a talented man, Ben Hecht, did everything he could to save the Jews of Europe, then trapped under the heel of the Nazis. (1) Some of these victims would be remembered for their armed resistance at Warsaw, Poland. Hecht organized rallies, spoke out, raised money and conducted PR campaigns to raise the consciousness of the American people to the evil that was happening. Now, try to imagine an America, where Hecht’s First Amendment activities are criminalized! Hecht, the humanitarian, becomes Hecht, the defendant, in a federal court case, charged with giving “support to terrorism!” That’s what they are doing to Sami Al-Arian!
In Tampa, Florida, Sami Al-Arian is on trial in a federal court house, along with eight other defendants, as the result of a fifty-three count indictment, accusing them of various charges, including, “providing material support to a terrorist group.” (2) Five of the defendants aren’t even in the courtroom. They are wanted men, living overseas. The other three defendants, with Al-Arian, have been called “stage props” by one court house observer. “The government,” he continued, “didn’t have enough of the big guns here to give a visual showing of a conspiracy, so they sweep in the poor mopes at the bottom.” (3) The terrorist group, according to federal prosecutors, is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Getting back to Hecht. Let’s suppose that the U.S. didn’t get involved in WWII. Instead, it had stayed neutral. Let’s suppose further that the federal government of that day had decided to make it a crime for any citizen to support resistance to the Nazi occupation and had enacted a dubious law to that effect. If it had, then Hecht’s advocacy, no matter how noble, on behalf of the Jews of Europe, could have landed him in the slammer!
The case against Al-Arian relies heavily on thousands of hours of intercepted calls and faxes,” which prosecutors insist show that the defendant “and others ran a criminal enterprise.” (2) Al-Arian denies all these charges and says that he has had “no connections with any terrorist groups.” His advocacy on behalf of Palestinians, he believes, has been only as a moral and legal issue and is “protected by the U.S. Constitution.” He said that the indictment contains “old charges that have been refuted” and that his First Amendment-protected views have been “taken out of context.” (4)
Governments, since the days of the “Star Chamber Proceedings” in England, have relished using the conspiracy charge against a defendant. (5) They like it because the statute of limitations didn’t apply to it and also because the rules of evidence allow statements or admissions made by one of the codefendants to be be used against all of the parties. Governments are also guilty of being selective moralizers. Have you ever wondered why the Contra were called “freedom fighters” by the U.S. and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was tagged as a “terrorist movement?” (6)
Al-Arian, the son of Palestinian refugee parents, was born in 1958, in the diaspora, in Kuwait. A devout Muslim, he made his way to America, in 1975, and to Tampa, Florida, in 1986. In many ways, before his arrest on Feb. 20, 2003, his life in the U.S. read like a chapter out of the “American Dream” come true. Married with five children, Al-Arian gained tenure as a Professor of Computer Science at the U. of South Florida. He was also a well know and a very popular speaker on the justice of the Palestinian cause, at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the Iman for the Islamic Society of Tampa.
A federal immigration judge in another case has affirmed the fact that two of the organizations that Al-Arian was most associated with, were “reputable” and “highly regarded.” As a result of the hysteria over 9/11, however, and his arbitrary arrest, Al-Arian was fired from his job at the college, denied bail, and held under conditions so harsh, (it included a 23-hour lock down and solitary confinement), that Amnesty International, itself, had to intervene with prison authorities to demand some relief. (4)
As a champion of the Palestinian cause, Al-Arian made enemies in the camp of the Zionist Cartel. After that very “suspicious” 9/11 tragedy, five thousand Arab-Americans were rounded up and held on bogus charges, without access to lawyers. The man in charge of that sweep-up operation is, in my opinion, the most dangerous man living in America - Michael Chertoff! He was then head of the criminal division of the Justice Department. Today, he is the czar of the Homeland Security Agency, which has 180,000 employees. (7) I see Chertoff’s fingerprints on Al-Arian’s case! As for the power of the Zionist Cartel, consider this: Ex-AIPAC honcho, Steven Rosen, once bragged: “You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin!” (8) As an historical reference, too, it has only been a few years ago, when shadowy Jewish groups in this country, resorted to the use of violence as a means to protest the treatment of Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel from the then-Soviet Union. (9) I don’t recall the federal government using conspiracy laws then and/or dragnet police tactics to round up those wrongdoers or any of their possible collaborators in the even more shadowy - Zionist Cartel!
Now, back to Al-Arian! It is beyond cavil that Israel’s brutal treatment and occupation of the Palestinian peoples and their lands, dating back to 1948, and more particularly, since the 1967 War, is a massive crime against humanity. (10) It would be wrong, however, to attempt to morally equate, and I’m not attempting to do it here, the Jewish Holocaust with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Nevertheless, I do make this argument: The laudable motivation of Hecht to save the Jews of Europe; and of al-Arian to lift the cruel Israeli occupation off the backs of the Palestinians, both spring from the same spiritual source! That source requires an individual to come to the assistance of another person who is being subjugated! It is a duty, that is older than any holy texts, and is written on the hearts of humankind.
The defendant, and his family, have endured ten years of mostly negative publicity, “particularly from the Tampa Tribune.” One of Al-Arian’s lawyers, William B. Moffitt, filed a motion for a change of venue, but it was denied by the court. The prosecutors have also filed a bizarre motion with the court to prohibit Al-Arian from “discussing the plight of the Palestinians.” Moffitt replied that this would be like “trying to explain Nelson Mandela without an understanding of Apartheid. Without an appropriate historical foundation being laid even the Founding Fathers would seem like criminals and outlaws in their resort to armed revolt,” he said. (4)
On reflection, I don’t think there is any real difference between what Hecht was trying to do or Al-Arian. Hecht was praised for his efforts, while Al-Arian's life has become an Kafakaesque-like nightmare. The latter’s indictment is a sham. He is being persecuted by the powers-to-be to put fear into the hearts of the Muslim-American community in the U.S. and to keep it from speaking out on issues. (11) That is all Al-Arian's case is really about.
In his opening statement to the jury, attorney Moffitt said, “The government has admitted there is no evidence that my client took part in any acts of violence or planned terrorist attacks in the United States. Instead he is being punished for espousing view some might find reprehensible. The evidence will show that this case is about Dr. Al-Arian’s freedom of speech, your right to hear it, and the attempt by the powerful to silence it. Do not allow the silencing of Dr. Sami Al-Arian to serve some ‘unknown policy goal’ of of the United States,” he said. (2)
Finally, the prosecution will try to make a big deal about some of Al-Arian's out-of-court statements, which he had made in the heat of the moment, in responding to the horrors being inflicted on innocent Palestinians by Israel’s Death, War and Mayhem Machine. (4) If, however, you want to read a truly malevolent statement, then just check out what Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, said in 1948. Here’s his exact quote: “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting off of all social services to rid Galilee of the Arab population.” If you have a strong stomach for it, there are plenty more like that to be found at Monabaker.com’s web site. (12) All of the quotes come out of the mouths of the supposed Israeli heroes. When you read them, and if you still have a soul, you will ask yourself this: “How could someone, like Al-Arian, not speak out on behalf of the Palestinians living under the grip of these Zionists?”
© William Hughes 2005.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘’No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at liamhughes (at) comcast.net.
1. Hecht was the author of the sensational expose, “Perfidy,” which was sharply criticized by the Zionist Cartel. It has been praised, however, by writers like, Lenni Brenner, the author of “51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis.” See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hecht
2. “Terrorism-related Trial of Four Opens in Florida,” 06/07/05, Orlando Sentinel, by Pedro Ruz Gutierrez.
3. “Co-Defendants in Fla. Deny Ties to Conspiracy,” by John Mintz, Washington Post, 06/08/05.
6. See, “The Terrorism Industry,” by Edward Hermann and Gerry O’Sullivan; and, also, “Terrorist Group Profiles,” (1988) U.S. Government.
8. “Real Insiders,” by Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker, 07/04/05.
11. There is an element of irony here. Just as al-Arian’s trial got underway, it was reported that the Israelis had resumed the illegal practice of extra-judicial executions of suspected Palestinian militants, a/k/a, “Targeted Killings.” See, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4119136.stm
© William Hughes 2005
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at liamhughes (at) comcast.net.
Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.