Today is a good day for Justice in America. Five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development were convicted on 108 criminal counts of supporting terrorism, money laundering and tax fraud. They funneled millions of dollars to the outlawed organization, Hamas. Today is also a good day for Justice in America because federal judge, Frederick Block, of the United States District Court in Brooklyn ruled against the government’s use of ethnicity as the sole justification for detaining Egyptian Americans, Tarik Farag and Amro Elmasry.
Taken together, these rulings point to a country which will make those who ignore the law, pay the full price for so doing, while protecting the rights of those who have done nothing to arouse suspicion on the part of others beyond looking or sounding different from most other Americans. That’s good justice.
The claim that the Holy Land 5 were unfairly persecuted, as many of their supporters claim is truly disturbing. It demonstrates that they actually put their political views above the law. Whether people agree with the government having labeled Hamas a terrorist organization or not, these men and their foundation knew full well that it was illegal to channel funds to Hamas. The fact that they covered it up proves that.
If they wanted the law changed, they should argue for the change, not become a law unto themselves. And the argument that they were only supporting the humanitarian work of Hamas is absurd. And pretending that this was “only” or “simply” humanitarian relief wrong.
That does not mean that any of the five convicted personally support the suicide bombing, arms smuggling, or endless rocket fire on civilian target that are the hallmark of Hamas.
In fact, there is no evidence that any of them believe that is the right thing to do. But helping Hamas to provide the humanitarian assistance which is part and parcel of their recruitment process and which galvanizes support for those activities is as good as putting weapons in the hands of those who would fire them.
There is real human need in Gaza and nobody should be hampered in their efforts to address those needs. But when you help terrorists in any way, you are helping terror and that must be stopped. The only alternative explanation is that those convicted and the people who support them approve of Hamas and its violence. If that is the case, then they should admit that they support a terrorist organization and pay the price for do so. If they do not, then they should find other ways of feeding the hungry and caring for the sick.
Likewise, our government needs to find ways to counter the ongoing threat of terror that do not hinge on racist profiling and needless suspicion of anyone who speaks Arabic or “looks Muslim”, itself a ridiculous term. While ethnicity and background may shape our thinking about who is a threat and who is not, we better be pretty certain that we have more to go on than a gut reaction to a person’s skin color or accent before hauling them in for interrogation. And simply switching seats so that two men traveling together can sit next to each other, hardly qualifies.
We must not become a lawless nation in defense of our laws. If we did, we would be little different from those against whom we fight. That need to honor the law falls on all of us, including Pro-Palestinian philanthropists, and those entrusted with keeping us safe from attacks. Yesterday’s rulings prove that. That is why today is a good day for justice.