Friday, February 18, 2011

FBI Targeting Palestine Solidarity Activists in New England

FBI Targeting Palestine Solidarity Activists in New England

On the early morning of February 10, Richard Hugus, a member of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, received a knock on the door by a member of the FBI accompanied by a police detective. Richard asserted his right not to speak to the agent, who left behind a card identifying himself as agent David George. When Richard's lawyer called to find out why the FBI was trying to interrogate him, the agent replied that they were interested in discussing an article Richard had written in 2005/2006 and a letter to political prisoner Aafia Sidiqqui.

In light of the recent grand juries that have been convened targeting Palestine solidarity and anti-war activists across the country, this FBI activity in Boston should come as no surprise. For the NECDP, FBI repression is also nothing new. We have experienced repression from the FBI and ICE since our inception in 2002, when Amer Jubran was arrested by FBI and INS agents who showed up at his door the day after our first demonstration and demanded that he cooperate with their investigation or face disappearance and indefinite detention. "Please the ears of this gentleman," said the INS agent gesturing to the FBI, "or we'll let you rot for 50 years."

But while the FBI harassment is nothing new, a few things are worth noting about this latest development:

--The FBI openly asserted that it wants to investigate Richard for an article he has written.

In the past, we have been used to the FBI and the rest of the Homeland Security apparatus manufacturing fake grounds for investigating (and later arresting) activists--for such things as alleged immigration violations. Over the last few years, the charge of "material support for terrorism" has been increasingly used to include public advocacy. At the same time, there has been a constant public discourse on "violent radicalization" and "homegrown terrorism," in which spreading information and expressing opinions on the internet have been identified as threats to "security." The idea that the FBI would investigate someone for expressing an opinion in an article is now normal.

--Richard Hugus is a solidarity activist.

Although the FBI is still primarily targeting Arabs and Muslims with its "terrorism" investigations and arrests--with the number of such cases rising dramatically since the beginning of the Holder/Obama regime--the past year has shown a significant new trend of targeting not just Palestinians, but Palestine solidarity activists.

This attention to solidarity activists comes at a moment when zionists are increasingly on the defensive. In 2010, officials at the "Israeli" Foreign Ministry said that they were considering stopping lectures by official representatives around the world because these only provide targets for a rapidly growing protest movement. The Reut Institute--a prominent zionist think tank--suggested in the same year that unless a new strategy were developed against the Palestine solidarity movement (including "legal" intervention, e.g. repression), "Israel" might soon find itself in the position of being an international pariah state. A central strategic recommendation of the Reut report was to distinguish between critics of Israeli policy and those who are committed to "delegitimizing Israel." They suggest that it's important to treat the "critics" as potential allies--and give them more room to express themselves--in order to isolate the "delegitimizers."

What we are witnessing across the country is an attempt to isolate and remove radical voices from the public discussion about Palestine in order to reduce their influence within a growing movement. Anyone who stands up for the right of Palestinians to resist or who refuses to accept the right of "Israel" to exist is in the rifle sight.

Richard Hugus is under investigation because he has used his skills as an activist, film-maker and writer to stand up for these fundamental truths: oppressed people have the right to fight their oppressors; colonized people have the right to take back the land that was stolen from them.

As members of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine we give full support to these positions:
--The people of Palestine have the right to resist and to reclaim all of their historic land from colonization.
--The peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan have the right to resist US invasion and occupation by any means necessary.

We will not be silenced and we will not speak to the FBI.

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