US To Gaza: A Charade that must be Stopped

Today, USTOGAZA, the organization that is planning to launch a Gaza-bound ship named The Audacity of Hope that is intended to "break the blockade of Gaza," is hosting a fundraising event in New York City. The organization is the brainchild of Obama's good friend, Palestinian Rashid Khalidi. Tickets to the fundraiser, a cruise around Manhattan featuring "middle eastern food...great people and inspiring music" are completely sold out.

So who are all of these "great people" that the supporters of the peaceful democracy of Israel, rather than the hateful terrorists comprising Hamas, will miss out on partying with? According to the invitation, special guests include the following esteemed individuals who are heading up the mission to breach international law:


  • Chris Hedges is the former New York Times reporter who accused IDF soldiers of using Palestinian civilians for target practice. In a YouTube video clip entitled "Assault on Gaza is Murder, Not War," Hedges claims that the true intent of Israelis "is to ethnically cleanse Palestinians."  
  • Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel, is best known as a peace activist, who through her outspoken opposition to the Iraq war, has worked hand in hand with Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink to undermine the war effort. As part of the "International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity," Wright stood at a protest in DC and announced "guilty" verdicts against the Bush administration for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Most recently, she participated in the first Gaza flotilla that harbored terrorists who attacked the IDF.
  • Najla Said is the daughter of the Palestinians' "most powerful political voice," Edward Said, and is best known for her one-woman Off-Broadway show, "Palestine." In a video of her performance of an excerpt of the play she describes her experience as an 18 year old when she "went to Palestine for the first time." I am wondering why this privileged, educated woman is not aware of the fact that a country named Palestine does not exist.
  • Ismail Khalidi is the son of Rashid Khalidi and an activist in the Palestinian and anti-war movements.  He writes for the Electronic Intifada, an online publication covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian perspective rather than the "pro-Israeli, pro-American spin" its editors believe exists.
  • Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian poet who can be seen here at a protest of Israel's attack on Lebanon reading his poem, "To Exist is to Resist" and here reading a poem entitled "Israel/America: A Rambling Poem."
  • Lamis Deek, co-chair of Al-Adwa New York: The Palestinian Right to Return Coaltion, stated in a speech that "when Palestinians voted for Hamas...they voted for...one Palestinian state in all of Palestine." She went on to concede that Jews are "welcome to stay on the condition that we see... the full dismantlement of all Zionist structures, all Zionist laws, all Zionist institutions, the repatriation of every single Palestinian refugee and their descendents, reparations for every Palestinian and their descendents..."
The last time we saw such a distinguished group of pro-Palestinians was likely Rashid Khalidi's going away dinner in Chicago at which Barack Obama spoke. The Los Angeles Times is still holding hostage the videotape of Obama's speech at that event but it is difficult not to conclude that having surrounded himself with Israel and/or America haters such as Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Rashid Khalidi, perhaps his views may be more similar to the aforementioned than to the majority of American citizens who strongly support Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

Obama could change this perception but to date, it is not looking likely that he will do so. For there is a pattern of behavior developing and theWhite House is conspicuously silent. One of the organizers of the first flotilla was Obama friend and advisor, as well as admitted terrorist, Bill Ayers. Now Obama's other good friend and advisor, Rashid Khalidi is organizing a second flotilla. In each case, international law is being broken.

While Ann Wright stood on the Mall several years ago reading "guilty" verdicts for Bush's war crimes, Obama's silence in the face of the crimes being committed by his terrorist-supporting friends is deafening. Obama must speak out against breaches of international law and he must speak out in defense of Israel's right to defend its borders against those who seek to destroy it. There is enough Palestinian incitement occurring on Mideast soil. It must not be acceptable to allow more incitement of violence and more attacks on innocent Israelis to begin on US soil as well. And it is the responsibility of the President of the United States to exercise his power as the chief executive and commander in chief to put an end to this now.

The USTOGAZA website includes an appeal to individuals to make donations in order to make the US boat, The Audacity of Hope, a reality. Why hasn't Obama requested that the use of the name of his memoir be dropped from this offensive endeavor? Obama could request that he and the publisher join together and enforce copyright laws which would likely restrict the use of this name. Obama is silent.

The site also states the group's intent to "challenge US foreign policy and affirm the universal obligation to uphold human rights and international law." And while we have seen Obama completely undermine established US foreign policy, ignore human rights violations across the globe, and remain silent in the face of breaches of international law, he was elected to the highest office in the land and he has the legal authority to act in ways that are anathema to America's best interests if he so chooses.  

These people, however, do not. This incitement provides Eric Holder with his first opportunity to redeem himself in the aftermath of the New Black Panther fiasco. But I will not hold my breath. Nor will I hold my breath that Obama will take a moral position and not only speak out against this attempt to undermine US and international law, but prevent it from going any further. That would take real conviction and as Sarah Palin recently observed, Barack Obama does not have the cojones to secure America's borders. It is therefore unlikely that he will so endow himself in time to help Israel secure hers.

Update: Ed Lasky writes:

Jonathan Schanzer writes a very good brief article in the Weekly Standard on US to Gaza raising a very important point. He quotes Andy McCarthy -- who had previously asked the same question-and focuses on one point in particular raised by McCarthy:

In the end, it is McCarthy's third point that is the most convincing: The Justice Department, under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, could also investigate American flotilla organizers for providing material support to a terrorist group....

According to a Supreme Court decision in June (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project), the prohibition against material support can apply even when the offerings are not money or weapons.

Not surprisingly, this has triggered criticism, including from former president Jimmy Carter, who advocates for engagement with Hamas. Carter says the material support clause "inhibits the work of human rights and conflict resolution groups."

However, as Chief Justice John Roberts noted, even if the support is administered with peaceful intent, it can lighten the financial burden of a terrorist group, and thus allow it to expend resources on terrorist activities.

Justice Roberts added that such support also "helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups -legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members and to raise funds -all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks."

Left unsaid by Mr. Schanzer is that the Justice Department has become highly politicized; that the administration is allergic to raising the specter that there are people in America who sympathize and support Islamic terrorism. Will Attorney General Eric Holder investigate this ploy and the role that Rashid Khalidi-a long-time anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian activist with a checkered past-is playing on providing this support? After all, at a going away party for Khalidi  held a few years before Barack Obama became President, Obama lauded the efforts of his friend in educating him about the Middle East (see "Allies of Palestinians see a Friend in Barack Obama).

Will Holder investigate this effort to help Hamas? Will he implicate Barack Obama's friend? This is one area where I have no hope.
Today, USTOGAZA, the organization that is planning to launch a Gaza-bound ship named The Audacity of Hope that is intended to "break the blockade of Gaza," is hosting a fundraising event in New York City. The organization is the brainchild of Obama's good friend, Palestinian Rashid Khalidi. Tickets to the fundraiser, a cruise around Manhattan featuring "middle eastern food...great people and inspiring music" are completely sold out.

So who are all of these "great people" that the supporters of the peaceful democracy of Israel, rather than the hateful terrorists comprising Hamas, will miss out on partying with? According to the invitation, special guests include the following esteemed individuals who are heading up the mission to breach international law:


  • Chris Hedges is the former New York Times reporter who accused IDF soldiers of using Palestinian civilians for target practice. In a YouTube video clip entitled "Assault on Gaza is Murder, Not War," Hedges claims that the true intent of Israelis "is to ethnically cleanse Palestinians."  
  • Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel, is best known as a peace activist, who through her outspoken opposition to the Iraq war, has worked hand in hand with Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink to undermine the war effort. As part of the "International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity," Wright stood at a protest in DC and announced "guilty" verdicts against the Bush administration for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Most recently, she participated in the first Gaza flotilla that harbored terrorists who attacked the IDF.
  • Najla Said is the daughter of the Palestinians' "most powerful political voice," Edward Said, and is best known for her one-woman Off-Broadway show, "Palestine." In a video of her performance of an excerpt of the play she describes her experience as an 18 year old when she "went to Palestine for the first time." I am wondering why this privileged, educated woman is not aware of the fact that a country named Palestine does not exist.
  • Ismail Khalidi is the son of Rashid Khalidi and an activist in the Palestinian and anti-war movements.  He writes for the Electronic Intifada, an online publication covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian perspective rather than the "pro-Israeli, pro-American spin" its editors believe exists.
  • Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian poet who can be seen here at a protest of Israel's attack on Lebanon reading his poem, "To Exist is to Resist" and here reading a poem entitled "Israel/America: A Rambling Poem."
  • Lamis Deek, co-chair of Al-Adwa New York: The Palestinian Right to Return Coaltion, stated in a speech that "when Palestinians voted for Hamas...they voted for...one Palestinian state in all of Palestine." She went on to concede that Jews are "welcome to stay on the condition that we see... the full dismantlement of all Zionist structures, all Zionist laws, all Zionist institutions, the repatriation of every single Palestinian refugee and their descendents, reparations for every Palestinian and their descendents..."
The last time we saw such a distinguished group of pro-Palestinians was likely Rashid Khalidi's going away dinner in Chicago at which Barack Obama spoke. The Los Angeles Times is still holding hostage the videotape of Obama's speech at that event but it is difficult not to conclude that having surrounded himself with Israel and/or America haters such as Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Rashid Khalidi, perhaps his views may be more similar to the aforementioned than to the majority of American citizens who strongly support Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

Obama could change this perception but to date, it is not looking likely that he will do so. For there is a pattern of behavior developing and theWhite House is conspicuously silent. One of the organizers of the first flotilla was Obama friend and advisor, as well as admitted terrorist, Bill Ayers. Now Obama's other good friend and advisor, Rashid Khalidi is organizing a second flotilla. In each case, international law is being broken.

While Ann Wright stood on the Mall several years ago reading "guilty" verdicts for Bush's war crimes, Obama's silence in the face of the crimes being committed by his terrorist-supporting friends is deafening. Obama must speak out against breaches of international law and he must speak out in defense of Israel's right to defend its borders against those who seek to destroy it. There is enough Palestinian incitement occurring on Mideast soil. It must not be acceptable to allow more incitement of violence and more attacks on innocent Israelis to begin on US soil as well. And it is the responsibility of the President of the United States to exercise his power as the chief executive and commander in chief to put an end to this now.

The USTOGAZA website includes an appeal to individuals to make donations in order to make the US boat, The Audacity of Hope, a reality. Why hasn't Obama requested that the use of the name of his memoir be dropped from this offensive endeavor? Obama could request that he and the publisher join together and enforce copyright laws which would likely restrict the use of this name. Obama is silent.

The site also states the group's intent to "challenge US foreign policy and affirm the universal obligation to uphold human rights and international law." And while we have seen Obama completely undermine established US foreign policy, ignore human rights violations across the globe, and remain silent in the face of breaches of international law, he was elected to the highest office in the land and he has the legal authority to act in ways that are anathema to America's best interests if he so chooses.  

These people, however, do not. This incitement provides Eric Holder with his first opportunity to redeem himself in the aftermath of the New Black Panther fiasco. But I will not hold my breath. Nor will I hold my breath that Obama will take a moral position and not only speak out against this attempt to undermine US and international law, but prevent it from going any further. That would take real conviction and as Sarah Palin recently observed, Barack Obama does not have the cojones to secure America's borders. It is therefore unlikely that he will so endow himself in time to help Israel secure hers.

Update: Ed Lasky writes:

Jonathan Schanzer writes a very good brief article in the Weekly Standard on US to Gaza raising a very important point. He quotes Andy McCarthy -- who had previously asked the same question-and focuses on one point in particular raised by McCarthy:

In the end, it is McCarthy's third point that is the most convincing: The Justice Department, under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, could also investigate American flotilla organizers for providing material support to a terrorist group....

According to a Supreme Court decision in June (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project), the prohibition against material support can apply even when the offerings are not money or weapons.

Not surprisingly, this has triggered criticism, including from former president Jimmy Carter, who advocates for engagement with Hamas. Carter says the material support clause "inhibits the work of human rights and conflict resolution groups."

However, as Chief Justice John Roberts noted, even if the support is administered with peaceful intent, it can lighten the financial burden of a terrorist group, and thus allow it to expend resources on terrorist activities.

Justice Roberts added that such support also "helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups -legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members and to raise funds -all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks."

Left unsaid by Mr. Schanzer is that the Justice Department has become highly politicized; that the administration is allergic to raising the specter that there are people in America who sympathize and support Islamic terrorism. Will Attorney General Eric Holder investigate this ploy and the role that Rashid Khalidi-a long-time anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian activist with a checkered past-is playing on providing this support? After all, at a going away party for Khalidi  held a few years before Barack Obama became President, Obama lauded the efforts of his friend in educating him about the Middle East (see "Allies of Palestinians see a Friend in Barack Obama).

Will Holder investigate this effort to help Hamas? Will he implicate Barack Obama's friend? This is one area where I have no hope.

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