Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 24, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

7:00 pm
advocacy on behalf of palestinian rights and speech that is critical of israel. it details the tactics as well as many case studies and it's available on both of our websites, ccrjustice.org and palestinelegal.org and i'll have materials later on the tables in the other room. last year, palestine legal responded to 240 incidents of suppression including baseless legal complaints, administrative disciplinary actions, bureaucratbureaucrat barriers. targeted students and professors on 75 different campuses. this is just the tip of the iceberg of the suppression that's going on. at schools around the country students are investigated for protests. when they do mock eviction to raise awareness of home demolitions, charges inevitably follow that they were targeting jewish dorm rooms. these charges have never been substantiated but of course lead to school and sometimes even criminal investigations.
7:01 pm
the irving 11 were criminally convicted for disrupting a meets f , for walking out of a speech. even though decisions dismissing the complaints have said that the first amendment protected expression alleged can't support a title 6 violation, these complaints are still being filed and universities respond by conducting investigations and cracking down on speech. these attacks often follow pressure or complaints from groups not only the zoa, the brandeis center, stand with us, the simon wiesenthal center, the anti-defamation league, et cetera. netanyahu has launched a full attack on bds, and oouisrael declared it's the biggest threat it faces. millions of dollars are being spent to combat criticism of israel and bds in particular. divestment resolutions on campuses all over the country
7:02 pm
have faced opposition not on their merits but because of claims they're anti-semitic. when the american studies association passed aesolution to endorse the call for boycott of israeli economacademic instis they received death threats. admits that it take direction on which cases to pursue and receives evidence from mossad and israel's national security council. also in response to the resolution, legislatures around the country propose bills to take away state funding from colleges that use any state aid to fund any academic organization that advocated a boycott of israel. prevented those bills from being passed but now there's a new slate of anti-boycott legislation that's been introduced in about 15 states. some states as was mentioned earlier have passed nonbinding resolutions. those have no legal effect. last year illinois passed a law requiring the establishment of a blacklist of foreign companies
7:03 pm
that boycott israel and compels the state pension fund to divest from those companies. florida passed a similar law -- a similar bill this year which is awaiting signature by the governor. it also prevents state contracts with any such companies if the contract is over $1 million. new york has similar legislation pending that's even worse than those. congress has introduced legislation to try to protect these kinds of state laws from federal preemption challenges, but, of course, they can't prevent a first amendment challenge. anti-boycott provisions made their way into the federal trade promotions authority law, making it a principle trade objective of the united states to discourage bds from israel and israel-controlled territories. the obama administration, you know, subsequently reiterated the position it does not support settlements, for what that's worth. you can find out more about legislative anti-boycott legislation at righttoboycott.org. anti-bds legislation isn't only
7:04 pm
in the u.s., of course, israel, itself, has an anti-boycott damages law and france has even criminalized bds. someone arrested last week for wearing a bds t-shirt. living under occupation, under siege, under apartheid, under attack. the tactic is try to stop the debate by intimidating and attacking your opponent, so israel and its apologists are also attacking those standing up for palestinian rights wherever they are. free speech is crucial to free inquiry, open deeb babate and functioning of our democracy especially at universities where open debate on issues of public concern tends to lead our nation's consciousness. campus activism turned the tides of the vietnam war and south africa apartheid and will eventually do the same here. those who speak out against israel's occupation and international law ill traustrat
7:05 pm
the power of the movement for palestinian rights has to expose those abuses and eventually bring them to an end. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you so much, maria. i've been asked to sit down and speak from this mike while the now mike gets corrected. hopefully we won't have anymore ins and outs of -- i think it will be okay. it's up to you, though. let me introduce you first. as we heard this morning one manifestation of israel's influence on this country is the failure of government agencies not only to guard the interests of american citizens, but to even enforce the law. our next speaker, susan abulhawa is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the u.s. treasury department for allowing tax deductible contributions to go to illegal israeli settlements. the attorney who filed a lawsuit
7:06 pm
against sheldon adelson, friends of the idf and others who actually make those contributions is here with us today and i'd like to ask martin mcmahon who's no relation to me as far as i know, to stand up so people will know who he is if they want to talk to him more about the details of these cases. [ applause ] so he'll be available for the rest of the afternoon for those who you who want to speak to him. thank you. thank you. thank you. and i'd like to add to that that susan abulhawa is a wonderful novelist, poet, and essayist. an international bestseller and translated into 27 languages.
7:07 pm
her most recent novel, "the blue between sky and water" has likewise been translated into 26 languages thus far and she'll be signing copies of her book in the exhibition hall following this panel. susan's first poetry collection, "my voice sought the wind" was pu published in 2013. her essays and political commentary have appeared in print, radio and digital media international. internationally. in 2001, before she left her rear in neuroscience research to become a full-time writer, susan founded playgrounds for palestine, a children's organization dedicated to upholding the right to play for palestinian children. last july in jordan, israel de y denied her entry to palestine where she planned to build two new playgrounds and visit possible new sites. somehow i suspect she will not be deterred. it's a great pleasure to
7:08 pm
introduce susan abulhawa. [ applause ] >> so, thank you to the "washington report" and all of you for being here and especially to you, martin mcmahon. it's an honor to share the stage with my comrades, maria and hwaida and listening to maria just now makes he feel like s are winning. as you heard, i'm here because i'm a plaintiff in martin's lawsuit but i'm not a lawyer, i'm a writer, and i'm all about narrative. so i'm going to talk about why i joined this lawsuit because i think bringing it back to palestine, no matter how much we know about it is always still important. so first to the question at hand, whether israel's influence is good or not for the united
7:09 pm
states. i think the answer to that largely depends on which united states we're talking about. there's the u.s. of the civil rights movement and doctor king and then there's the u.s. of the klan and the grand wizards. there's the u.s. of revolutionaries and warriors like malcolm, harriet tubman, crazy horse, blackhawk, geronimo, angela davis, and then there are the architects of the financial crisis who made off with billions of dollars in people's lost homes and lost savings. there's the u.s. of intellectual giants like debois, alice walker, tromsky, and then there are are the likes of friedman and fox news. the united states, i'm briefly going to touch on, belongs to
7:10 pm
the latter grouping. it is of some of the wealthiest, most privileged americans like the falic family. i assume it's not pronounced falic. shotten him family, american eagles outfitters. funnel billions of tax-exempt money to finance the incremental theft of palestine. theft of another people's ancestral lands, of our homes, our history and heritage. the theft of our culture, our food, our memories, our cemeteries, our churches, our mosques, our orchards, our olive groves. all so they who have so much can also have an extra country. so that every jewish person in the world may be accorded an entitlement to dual citizenship. one in their own ancestral homeland and one in mine.
7:11 pm
this colonial enterprise -- is that coming up? this colonial enterprise of population change can be visualized through maps showing the ex-propuation and dramatic transfer of land ownership. such the native sons and daughters of palestine are now relegated to what amounts to less than 11% of our historic homeland. arranged as an apartheid waterless archipelago of ghettos. but as grant showed us this morning, such images of the settler colonial reality has not permeated u.s. popular imagination, principally because u.s. media gives disproportionate platform to zionist voices who repeat tired mantras about terrorism to manufacture fear and its
7:12 pm
resulted alignment to royalties. mantras about negotiations and peace overtures living side by side, lofty and emotional verbiage that's carefully orchestrated precisely more american ears in order to create the false narrative of parity. one that paints a highly militarized colonial enterprise as a victim of the principally unarmed, defenseless, and besieged native occupation that they occupy. it is an extraordinary and breathtaking inversion of the historic and forensic record. so while a mythical narrative of biblical proportions dominates us airways, newspapers, radio, film, and literature, i'd like to give you a glimpse of what they're actually doing. and these actions are predicated on an ideology explicitly articulated by zionists in the highest offices particularly to
7:13 pm
each other and often when they think no one is listening. it is a language of supremacy, of the wholesale negation of another people's humanity, replete with the word colonize and with words like transfer. from the very beginning, theodore hertzel said spirit the penniless, that the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly. a founding member of zionism did not mince words. he said zionism is a colonizing adventure. rafael itan who we heard about earlier today said when we have settled the land, all the arabs will be able to do about it will to be scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle. and the current israeli prime minister, in a moment when he thought no one was listening, said israel should have exploited the repression of demonstrations in china, when
7:14 pm
world attention focused on that country in order to carry out mass expulsions among the arabs of the territories." and the nobel laureate and father of great palestinian bones doctrine said "israel will create in the course of the next 10 to 20 years conditions which would attract the voluntary migrations of palestinians." he uttered those words in the 1980s and indeed israel has created those conditions. here is a glimpse of what he was talking about and, grant, if you could play that, please. as with all colonial projects -- >> the nobel father -- >> what is that? that's my own voice. just played back to me. as with all colonial projects, you know, this always happens. it's murphy's law, isn't it? a foundational aim is to create a docile subjugated native
7:15 pm
population without rights or resource. a broken humanity that's good for cheap labor. they start to ierrorizing us at young age. any given time israel holds palestinian children in administrative detention where they're interrogated and torture without charge, without trial, without their parents, without a lawyer, without an advocate. they're often kidnapped on their way to and from school, playing in the streets, throwing rocks at tanks as they have a right to do, or pulled from their beds and dragged away in the middle of the night. they're shot or murdered or maimed wherever they stand. israel systemically targets palestinian education. they bomb schools directly, close them down regularly, raid them, fire on students often inside their classrooms. they impede the ability of students and teachers to physically reach their classrooms. in addition to checkpoints, road barriers and closures, violent
7:16 pm
settlers often prevent young and old alike from reaching their destinations whether it's school, work, shopping, a family visit, a funeral, a field, a mosque, or a church, a wedding, or any place to be in any moment to complete a day of living. they demolish our homes one by one. evict whole families. whole neighborhoods. israel is, perhaps, the only nation in the world that creates homelessness as a matter of national policy. at the same time that this -- that native families are pushed out, jewish foreigners are imported from all over the world to take their place. since 1967, 25,000 palestinian homes have been destroyed, internally displacing over 200,000 palestinians. 15,000 of those homes were demolished since the signing of the osso accords in '93 and since that year 53,000 new jewish settler homes have been built on land confiscated from palestinians.
7:17 pm
they destroy our precious ancient olive trees that we have loved and nurtured for centuries and which have sustained and defined so much of our lives in return. nearly 1 million olive trees have been uprooted, cut, burned. a lone statistic, a holocaust in itself. a life-giving earth transformed into a graveyard for broken and burned trees. they steal palestinian water, pump it out from aquifers benet palestinian land and allocate it on the basis of religious affiliation. what plalestinians are accorded of their own water are sold to them at prices severalfold more compared to what jews in the same area are charged. in 2013, a health report demonstrated how 550,000 illegal jewish settlers use five times more water than the 2.6 million blin yan palestinians in the same area.
7:18 pm
palestinian access to water is further limited by israel's denial of palestinian water development. it is nearly impossible for us to get permission to dig new wells and further, what wells and cisterns already exist are frequently damaged or destroyed by israel. the assault on gaza's drinking water is so severe that 90% of the groundwater in gaza now is unfit for human consumption. israel rules with color-coded i.d. cards with massive surveillance of voice data, of movements, of habits, of hopes and secrets. they have color-coded license plates and segregated roads and segregated buses. implementation of israeli apartheid goes to the smallest details of life including even cell phone coverage. while israeli settlers in the '67 occupied territories enjoy and 4g coverage palestinians are
7:19 pm
limited to 2g. designed to perpetuate economic dependency on israel. and yet, in the united states, financial support of such policies are cataloged as charitable. so much of this system of ethnoreligious supremacy has been made possible by external funding, both governmental and an estimated 30,000 nongovernmental so-called charitable organizations. in the u.s., tax-exempt groups have poured billions of dollars into subsidizing population change. a 2002 study by dr. thomas stalfor estimated $50 billion to $60 billion had been transferred from the u.s. charities to israel over a 20-year period from 1980 to 2002. and similarly shocking numbers were revealed in a 2013 study
7:20 pm
that looked at 3,600 u.s. tax exempt groups funneling money to israel. a horowitz investigation reported in a four-year period between 2009 and 2013 that 50 u.s. tax-exempt organizations, alone, funneled more than $220 million to exclusively jewish settlements in palestine. the hebron fund that you see is one example. this is a brooklyn-based group that provides approximately half of the hebron settler community's funding. between 2009 and 2014, it transferred $5.7 million to the settler community of just a few hundred individuals who live in the midst of 220,000 palestinians. this small but heavily armed and guarded settler outpost among nearly a quarter a million
7:21 pm
palestinians has acted as a par mi a mi a military force. this community further has well documented connections to terrorism and human rights abuses. accused of crimes, theft, harassment, assault, destruction of property. they've been involved in gunfire, attempts to run people over, poisoning of a water well, breaking into homes, spilling of hot liquid on the face of a palestinian and the killing of a young palestinian girl. another organization is this, this one, honenu. i'm not sure if i'm pronouncing that correctly. don't really care. donations to this organization go primarily to legal aid and family support for accused, confessed, or convicted jewish
7:22 pm
terrorists. among their beneficiaries was ami popper who murdered palestinian laborers in 199 o. he lined them up and shot them a along a wall. terrorist underground that attempted to detonate a bomb at a girl's school in east jerusalem in 2002. other high-profile accused or convicted terrorists who've received funding from honenu include the settlers who kidnapped, beat, tortured then burned alive a 16-year-old in 2014. also the settlers who fire bombed the home of a family killing 18-month-old ali and along with both of his parents and severely burning his older brother. another organization is the fund of israel. this is an umbrella charity that operates out of a textile company owned by the marcus
7:23 pm
brothers in the manhattan garment district. it has received money from the likes of ace greenberg, kirk douglas, michael milken, the junk bond king. in 2014, alone, they sent $25 million to israel. phillip weiss who's with us today reported that cfi provides funding to one headed by rabbis shapira and elitser. those guys co-authored a booked called "the king's torah" in which they make it clear that the commandment, thou shalt not kill applies only to jews who kill jews. the bulk of the text in this book is an instruction manual explaining the ways of kosher murder for nonjews. non jews the book explains are uncompassionate by nature and,
7:24 pm
therefore, attacking them may, quote, curb their evil inclinations. the book permits the killing of infants and children of non jews since, quote, it is clear that they will grow up to harm us. these are things that are funded by u.s. tax exempt dollars. in the interest of time, i think i'm going to skip through some of these. these are only a few examples in a large body of evidence showing how financial transactions from tax-exempt organizations are used to fund ethnoreligious supremacy and entitlements. with its consequence, displacement, and destruction of native palestinian life. it does not include a whole other ecosystem of synagogue and church giving to israel. so i think the more appropriate question to ask today is whether
7:25 pm
specific actions, protocols, laws and political adventures bend our collective human experience toward justice, toward universal dignity and moral evolution. the forcible removal of an entire nation, a deeply rooted people in order to replace them with others from around the world, religious conversions, marriages, rapes, enslavement, settlements, wards, crusade, commerce, travel and natural
7:26 pm
migrations. of known tribes like the cannonites, syrian, hebrew, the romans. they all pass through our lands. and became of us as we became of them and we never left. we were always there. until the turn of the century when european zionists arrived with guns and hatred and made of us a homeless refugee people. an exiled and unoccupied terrorized people. we were and we remain the children of that patch of earth, of that thihistory. we belong to that place where are buried our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and on down the line. we did not arrive there a few years ago from poland or belarus, russia, florida, france, england, germany or any other place from which the vast majorities of israelis hale. we do not have hundreds of years of european history, of
7:27 pm
documented life and achievement in europe. the americas and elsewhere. and the whole world knows it. our humanity is nothing to them. it is as if we're vermin in the eyes of american zionists financing the destruction of palestine. the dismantling of our society is happening today in 2006 -- 2016. missed a whole decade. that's why i joined martin mcmahon's initiative to sue the u.s. treasury so they might investigate these organizations so that my american kpcompatrio might be moved to shut them down. i join this lawsuit because i see it as a way to confront power when we are mostly powerless. when we are so outgunned, outmoneyed, outmaneuvered, outconnected. i joined because i believe that confronting power with truth is the least one can do with the privilege we have.
7:28 pm
when so many who are a fraction of my age are risking their young lives to confront heavily armed soldiers with rocks. when grown men and women with nothing but their bellies to protest waste away as hunger forces the body to eat itself. i joined this lawsuit because i believe in the united states of the civil war heroes, of its warriors and intellectuals. because the cause of palestine is squarely in the categories of this america. i will close with one last quote, who despite his abhorrent supremacist ideas clearly understood something fundamental about palestinians. he said this about us. "they look upon palestine with the same instinctive love and true favor the aztecs looked upon mexico or any sioux looked upon his prairie. palestine will remain for the palestinians not a borderland
7:29 pm
but their birthplace, the center and basis of their own national existence. but unlike the destruction of the aztecs and the sioux, we are not yet outnumbered. our anguish is audible to global civil society. and the moment portending our existential peril is now." so the question, then, for this audience is which united states do we want to prevail? thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you so much, susan, and, again, she'll be signing her books after this panel in the exhibition hall. over the years, countless lawsuits have been filed against
7:30 pm
iran for terrorist attacks it allegedly made possible. these lawsuits have not accused iran of directly killing americans but rather of providing material support to hamas, hezbollah, the tower bombers, you name it. just last month, in fact, 367, i counted, family members and estates sued iran for providing material support for the killing of injuring of americans including soldiers in iraq. as if iran, not the u.s., hadn't been the one to invade that country. israel, on the other hand, has directly killed and injured americans. from the crew of the "u.s.s. liberty" in 1967, 37 americans killed, 171 wounded in international waters, to 23-year-old nonviolent activist rachel corey killed 13 years ago this past wednesday days before
7:31 pm
we invaded iraq. and an 18-year-old, a passenger on a humanitarian vessel who was killed six years ago. the u.n. human rights council described his killing as a, quote, summary execution by israeli commandos who boarded the unarmed ship also in international waters. our final speaker, hwaida arraf was a passenger, one of the other two vessels. she's one of four challenger passengers who are suing the state of israel and four of its ministries for torture, cool, inhumane or degrading treatment, a assault and detention, and emotional distress. hwaida is a palestinian american lawyer and human rights advocate. as the daughter of an israeli-born palestinian, she is also a citizen of israel. she received her bachelor's degree from the university of
7:32 pm
michigan and her jurisdoctor where she focused on international human rights and humanitarian law. in 2001, huwaida co-founded the international solidarity movement or ism for which rachel corey was volunteering when she was crushed to death by an israeli bulldozer. co-editor of the book "peace under fire, israel, palestine and international solidarity movement" an organization that has twice been nominated for the nobel peace price. huwaida was "onslaught: ooerz's attack on gaza and rule of law." former chairperson of the free gaza movement. from august to september 2008 led five successful sea voyages to the gaza strip to confront and challenge israel's illegal
7:33 pm
blockade. huwaida was one of the primary organizers of the gaza freedom flotilla, forces lethally attacked on may 31st, 2010. please join me in welcoming huwaida arraf. [ applause ] >> thank you, janet. thanks to "washington report" for inviting me, again, and thanks to all of you for being here. i must admit i am now a little l intimidated to go after all these wonderful speakers especially since i'm a little out of my element here. i usually speak kind of as a human rights activist about what's happening in palestine, what we're doing about it. sometimes i'm called to speak as a lawyer about some legal issues, implicated. today i'm not speaking at either one of those because i am -- the topic here is pending litigation, it's rather sensitive and i'm not the lawyer
7:34 pm
on the case, but rather a plaintiff and one of my lawyers told me, don't speak about the legal issues. what am i going to speak about then? and last year when i spoke, see, i had my 6-month-old daughter with me and she just captivated the audience and really added to my talk and nobody paid attention to what i said and i could really use her right now. but she had other plans this weekend. so she's not here. no, i'll try not to bore you. it won't be that bad, but if you can just understand there are probably some things that i won't be able to talk about. okay. so by way of brief background, as janet already said in my introduction and some of you already know, i was one of the organizers of the gaza freedom flotilla in 2010 and i was one of the passengers. the gaza freedom flotilla sought to challenge israel's illegal
7:35 pm
blockade on gaza and to do that, we organized seven ships carrying over 700 people to over 3 dozen countries and over 10,0 of urgently needed materials in gaza. i was on the challenger 1 which was a small u.s. flag vessel. it was sailing very close to the bigger ship which was carrying a bulk of the passengers. on the night of may 30th into may 31st, i was in the wheelhouse of the challenger 1 and around midnight, the israeli navy contacted us. they proceeded to ask us questions who we were, what our vessel numbers were, where we came from, where we were heading. the captains of the various ships answered these questions
7:36 pm
so they knew very clearly who we were. then i kind of took over on speaking on behalf of the flotilla and repeatedly told the israeli navy that we are unarmed civili civilians, we are carrying only humanitarian aid for the people of gaza who are under an illegal blockade. we are not going to near israeli waters. we're going from international waters into gaza's territorial waters. we constitute no threat to the state of israel or its armed forces. do not use force against us. and i repeated that we are unarmed civilians, do not use force against us. at about 1:30 in the morning, the communication from the israeli navy stopped and about three hours later, we heard shooting. it was still the dead of night. there was shooting going on all around us.
7:37 pm
i went out onto the deck and i could see helicopters overhead and israeli zodiacs, gunships. the mavi was the first boat to come under attack. our ship sped off. we were hoping to delay the boarding of our ship at least until we could get word out on our satellite phones that we were under attack. but the israeli ships quickly overtook us. at least two zodiacs filled with armed masked men trying to board our boats and i remember myself holding up my arms saying, stay away from us, this is an american ship, we're only civilians, do not come on board. and i was screaming, this is an american ship, stay away from us. and then chaos ensued. they threw sound bombs. i looked at one of my
7:38 pm
colleagues, she had blood all over her face. i don't know what had happened to her. i was thrown down to the ground. my face was smashed into a deck full of glass and as a soldier stepped on my head, others were trying to get my hands cuffed behind my back. when i was finally cuffed, they dragged me to one end of the ship, pinned me down and put a sack over my head. as they were searching my body, went into my pants looking for any media equipment they had on me. primarily they were looking for our cameras and our phones and they, indeed, succeeded in taking those away from us. our boat was eventually taken to the israeli -- now israeli port of ashdod where violence continued. i was carried off the ship as were a lot of my colleagues by our hands and feet, thrown to the ground. i was later detained for hours,
7:39 pm
interrogated, and toward the end of the day was physically abused to the point where i passed out and was taken to a hospital. but what happened to me, to us on that "challenger," was nothing in comparison to what happened to our colleagues on the mavi in which nine of our colleagues were shot dead. one was so lethally injured and passed away four years later. it pales in comparison to what's happening to the people of palestine every day, gaza, the very situation we're attempting to draw attention to with our action. nevertheless, it wasn't a my in thing and we are thankful to be alive.
7:40 pm
when we first founded the movement, we did it believing israel kills palestinians, has a free hand to do so, no one ever held israel responsible for killing palestinians. israel does not want to kill internationals. it doesn't look good for them. internationals have governments which will stand up for them, at least try to hold israel accountable. but then as janet mentioned, 13 years ago they killed our colleague, rachel corey in gaza. in a brutal way. ran her over with a huge armored bulldozer. and a few weeks later, they killed another foreign national, tom herndall, a uk citizen. he laid in a coma for nine months before he died from a bullet wound to the back of the head. and then a month after that, they killed a british journalist, james miller. they got some bad pr, but they weren't held accountable.
7:41 pm
for tom herndall's death, because his parents pursued, went after really -- not only his parents because also rachel corey's parents were very active in this. tom herndall's parents had a bit of support from their government and in the sense it pressured israel a little bit to arrest the soldier that shot tom in the sense to hold him out as, you know, the sacroficial lamb. or the government that gives those orders and uses kind of these -- it's a matter of national policy. it was -- so they put this soldier on trial. he spent a few years in jail. was released early. the american government promised rachel corey's parents the israeli government could conduct an independent, impartial investigation into what happened. that never happened. so there was no one ever held accountable and the culture of impunity continues.
7:42 pm
in terms of the flotilla, something israel did not expect was there was a backlash of sorts amongst the people of the world. tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people around the world marched in protest. artists that were supposed to perform in israel canceled their performances. there were different unions and protests at ports because israel attacked our ship and was not letting ships into gaza, that they tried to block israeli ships coming to various ports in oakland and in sweden. and so the people reacted and i think that was -- and remains significant. in addition, we, the people who planned the flotilla, we did not in any way -- it was traumatizing in a sense what happened but we made a decision that we were not going to let this violence deter us and we went on to plan another
7:43 pm
flotilla. at the same time, we strategized and collected, gathered lawyers from all over the world to try to decide how we were going to pursue legal action. so this comes a little bit of the legal part of my talk. one of the things we did is assemble a file for the international criminal court. the international criminal court did not open an investigation as a result of files submitted from the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, but we also appealed to the island of the comeros. the mavi ship was flagged in the comeros and is a signatory to the rome statute of the icc, and in 2013, the island of the comeros did request that the prosecutor open an investigation into the attack on the mavi. and the freedom flotilla. a and the prosecutor did do so and the prosecutor of the international criminal courts
7:44 pm
came back with a -- a decision that there was evidence showing that war crimes was committed in that flotilla attack, but unfortunately, decided that the events did not meet the threshold, the gravity threshold, it wasn't grave enough to merit further icc involvement and she decided to close the case. now, the comeros islands appealed that decision to what's called the pretrial chamber and surprisingly we were surprised, but the pretrial chamber did issue a decision calling on the prosecutor to reconsider her decision saying that she overlooked some significant matters and called on her to re-open the matter which she and her office tried to appeal. they tried to appeal that decision and the appeals chamber last year came back and actually they did not accept her appeal
7:45 pm
and, therefore, the decision of the pretrial chamber stands that she needs to re-open, take another look at this case. we don't know what she's going to do. she might -- we hope she doesn't but she might find another way to close the case. that case before the international criminal court is still open. some passengers filed cases in various countries. in spain, we had three spanish citizens on the flotilla and they filed the lawsuits in november of 2015. so just a few months ago. a spanish national court judge instructed the spanish police to notify him if any of the seven -- they named seven officials as guilty. they accused of war crimes. if any of these seven step foot into spain that he should be notified, that the police should be notified in order for these people to be detained and to undergo questioning in connection with this -- with this lawsuit. unfortunately, over the last few
7:46 pm
years, spain has really gutted its universal jurisdiction laws. it used to have a very vibrant universal jurisdiction law. in fact, it is the laws that allowed for the, i think it was 1998 where augusto penoshay was arrested in london and extradited to spain to stand trial. but in 2009, a spanish judge agreed to open an investigation, or to actually pursue a case against the perpetrators of a 2002 bombing attack on gaza. and as a result of that, so where you have a potential of an israeli official being investigated for war crimes in spain, the foreign minister of spain at the time promised the israelis that this would be looked into, that this would not be allowed to happen and,
7:47 pm
indeed, only a few months later spain's universal jurisdiction law was gutted. so now it stands that in order to pursue a case in spain, not only must a spanish citizen be involved, be a victim of the abuse before it could be anybody -- i mean, the whole theory of universal jurisdiction is there are some crimes that are so heinous that any government, any state, any court should be able to take jurisdiction over these war criminals so these people can be stopped. now in spain and in many other countries that have gutted their universal jurisdiction laws as a result of political pressure, in spain, a spaniard has to be involved and the person, the accused has to be on spanish soil which did not limit the ability to still prosecute for this case, for the flotilla because the thought was there were spaniards involved and if any of the people stepped foot in spain, they should be arrested.
7:48 pm
but following this ruling, a spokesperson for the israeli foreign ministry told the media, we're working with the spanish authorities to get this canceled and we hope it will be resolved soon. and a month later, the spanish high court annuled the decision of the judge and removed the seven officials from the police database. the attorney for the three victims, the three spanish victims appealed. unfortunately, not only did the appellate court in spain uphold the dismissal, but it also imposed costs on the victims which is kind of unprecedented. the attorney is appealing now to the spanish constitutional court and if he fails there, he plans to take it to up to the european court of human rights so we're not stopping there. in the uk in january 2015, lawyers also presented a complaint to police who are gathering evidence now with a view to deciding if certain
7:49 pm
israeli-accused officials basically if they step foot in the uk if they should be arrested. so there is an ongoing case in the united kingdom. the united states. so, the precedent here hasn't been so great. after we were attacked, we tried to work with the u.s. government a lot through the embassy, the state department to try to get answers as to what happened to us, to try to get some kind of help, to try to get -- i mean, very basic, to try to get some of our things back. everything was taken from us, our money, our wallets, our cameras, our laptops. everything. just to get some of our things back. that never happened. the center for constitutional rights has been over the last few years since the attack trying to through the freedom of information about get a lot of documents from the u.s. government as to what they knew in relation to the attack on the flotilla, both before, after, and this has resulted in
7:50 pm
somewhere over 15,000 pages of redacted documents. but in terms of pursuing legal action, maria actually has been at the forefront forefront of t hold israelis accountable for grave abuses of human rights when it comes to rachel cory against the caterpillar corporation. and palestinian victims. some of the cases were mentioned he here. both cases were against israelis for their involvement in war crimes. it was for the 1996 attack on a u.n. refugee base camp in rememb lebanon. it was for 2002 bombing of an apartment building in gaza, which killed 15 people,
7:51 pm
including 8 children. both of those cases unfortunately, were dismissed based on sovereign immunitity, saying that these officials are entitled to immunitity, i see the red light has gone on. let me go quickly to our case today we on january 12th, 2016 did file a civil action for compensation against the state of israel. not against an official, but against the state of israel, and a number of named ministries. our jurisdictional claim is the foreign sovereign immunitities act which in general gives immunitity to foreign states. the politics of this country they don't want to create a situation where the politics or the action of foreign states are litigated in u.s. courts. that is understandable, but there are some exceptions to that immunitity. and we believe that our case fits very clearly into one of
7:52 pm
these exceptions. one of the exceptions found under 1605 which says a foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the united states in a case in which money damages are sought against a foreign state for personal injury or death or damage to or loss of property occurring in the united states. our ship was flying a u.s. flag for all intents and purposes. it was u.s. territory on the high seas. therefore, immunitity does not apply. now, what unfortunately, the united states government has been doing, and there's another case. sorry, i forgot to mention it has been instituted only a few months before in california, for the death of a united states citizen executed. executed because the u.n. fact finding commission found he was shot five times. once in the face at point blank range likely when he was laying
7:53 pm
on his back already down. and what happened when that u.n. fact finding mission report came before the u.n. human rights council before a vote. the united states which had one of its citizens executed was the only country to vote not to approve that report. if we're talking about the influence of the u.s. lobby or israel and its relationship with the united states. is it good for america when it causes america to take such shameful positions against the rights and lives of its own citizens that cannot be good for america. but that case is also ongoing in california and what israel has recently sent a letter to the united states government asking for a suggestion of immunitity. asking the united states to submit a letter to the u.s. courts saying that they recommend immunitity for the individual being sued in
7:54 pm
california. it is indeed what they have done in these past cases that have been dismissed based on sovereign immunitity. the united states to the best of my knowledge has not submitted this letter yet, it is ongoing, the lawyers are currently responding to barack's motion to dismiss, in terms of our case, it is likely they will do the same thing. they are not entitled to immunitity. the government of israel in their letter said that this is orchestra orchestrated, and politically orchestrated situation. trying to accuse us, trying to accuse his parents of politically motivated reasons for this lawsuit as opposed to seeking justice for lost loved ones and for gross abuse that we face at the hands of israel. if this is politically motivated
7:55 pm
is it politically motivated to seek justice for eric garner, susan bland, freddie gray. those same people would say this is politically motivated. some people are entitled to justice based on the color of their skin. and others are not. that is unacceptable. it's not politically motivated, it's going to be won by the people marching in the streets in palestine by the people from all over the world marching with them. by the people getting on boats, by the students here and around the world and others that are taking -- these are ways we the people of the world are going to hold the people of israel
7:56 pm
accountable. what we seek from our courts is to say that our lives are important and foreign governments cannot abuse and kill, execute people and not face justice for it. because if the united states government submits a letter granting immunitity to israel for attacking americans on u.s. soil, then who is safe and who is next. and people are going to continue to go. in fact, there is an all woman's vote being planned right now to seal to gaza, there's a representative of the women's vote to gaza somewhere here in the room. if you want to talk about the woman's vote and supporting that, the effort of the people won't stop, we definite ly need to use the courts to at least
7:57 pm
det deter. when there is no deterrence, the violence continues. when there is no accountability, what is to stop. that's a true danger here. it remains to be seen, but as e we -- we hope our national courts will be a place to get justice. we will keep on. we keep on marching and we keep on sailing. >> i'd like to thank our inspiring panelists for a fabulous session today. we are running a little late. i'm going to propose we take a 15 minute break and come back for a very exciting second keynote address, and our final
7:58 pm
panel of the day. let's take 15 minutes. thank you so much.
7:59 pm
news and policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, daniel raymond he'll be with us to discuss theer owes raised on the hearing to combat drug abuse. he'll talk about the work being done by his organization. and megan mccoffee will share her results of the congressional
8:00 pm
response to the heroin epidemic. later boyd rutherford will join us to talk about the open yoid task force. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal beginning at 7:00 eastern on friday morning. join the discussion. next on american history tv, historians discuss general sherman's march flew georgia. after that, historian dennis fry talks about the impact of john brown's raid in the 1860 presidential election. a forum on the role of women in the civil war. a panel of civil war historians and authors discuss union general william ta couple is a sherman's 1865 campaign through the carolinas, which followed after his famed march to the sea through

99 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on