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UK Jewry sued over terror slur

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    Palestinian charity sues British Jewry over terror slur By Sharon Sadeh - March 25, 2004 (Ha aretz) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/408427.html LONDON -
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31 5:47 AM
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      Palestinian charity sues British Jewry over terror slur

      By Sharon Sadeh - March 25, 2004 (Ha'aretz)


      LONDON - Interpal, one of the largest Palestinian charitable funds in
      Britain, has filed a libel suit against the Jewish Board of Deputies,
      the umbrella organization of British Jewry, demanding the
      organization apologize for referring to the fund as a terror

      The board's response is to be submitted tomorrow to the High Court
      and a hearing will then be held to determine when the legal
      proceedings will begin in court.

      Six months ago, the Board of Deputies published on its Web site a
      report that described Interpal as a terrorist organization. Interpal
      calls itself an "independent charitable organization providing
      support to the poor and needy Palestinian people."

      The Board of Deputies report followed a U.S. decision published in
      August 2003 banning Interpal activity in the U.S. on grounds of
      suspicion of helping Hamas. The U.S. classified Interpal as
      a "specially designated global terror organization." The British
      commission responsible for nonprofit organizations opened an inquiry
      that led to a freeze on Interpal activity in Britain.

      The case was closed in September 2003 and Interpal resumed activity
      after the commission reached the conclusion there was no evidence
      linking Interpal to Hamas.

      The commission's report said the U.S. did not provide any evidence of
      the accusations leveled against Interpal.

      Security sources told Haaretz the FBI had reservations about exposing
      classified intelligence material or handing over documents to the
      British commission, for fear it would be leaked to hostile elements.

      Israel is furious about the decision to allow Interpal to continue
      operations, and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom demanded at meetings
      with British officials that they shut down the fund. The British said
      they cannot take action because the commission is an independent
      agency, not subordinate to the government.

      After the commission closed the case, the Board of Deputies admitted
      it made a mistake in its description of Interpal and clarified that
      the description that appeared on the site was imprecise "according to
      the terms used in Britain." However, Interpal did not regard that as
      a sufficient apology and warned it would submit the libel suit if the
      Board of Deputies did not completely retract its statements. In the
      wake of a correspondence between the two organizations, Interpal
      decided to go ahead with its suit.

      A spokesman for Interpal told Haaretz yesterday that the NPO operates
      in Britain alone and is unaware of any legal proceedings against it
      in any other country, including the U.S. and Canada. He said the suit
      against the Board of Deputies was the result of their refusal to
      apologize "and because they did not present any evidence proving
      their claim that we are a terror organization."

      He added a demand for compensation will be made during the trial and
      denied the Palestinian Authority had made the fund's work difficult
      as it had in the past, saying there were "excellent relations" with
      the PA. The Board of Deputies refused to comment on the case.

      Ekram Haque, News & Observer, 3/26/04

      The writer of the March 25 People's Forum letter captioned "Muslims'
      goals" claimed that elimination of Jews is "central to both the
      Qur'an and Islamic tradition..." This shows complete disregard for
      the Muslims' kind treatment of Jews throughout history. Some

      @* Upon conquering Jerusalem without a fight, the second caliph of
      Islam, Omar bin Al-Khattab, declared Jerusalem to be an international
      city and allowed Jews to return to it.

      @* When Saladin recaptured Jerusalem from the crusaders, he allowed
      Jews to return and live peacefully alongside Muslims and Christians.

      @* A golden age of the Jewish people was in Muslim Spain -- al-
      Andalus -- where they lived freely and rose to prominence.

      @* When al-Andalus fell to Spanish conquistadors, the Muslim Ottoman
      empire gave the Jewish people much-needed refuge.

      @* There have been no pogroms of Jews living in the Muslim lands, but
      many in Christian Europe.

      To portray the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a fight between Islam
      and Judaism tries to divert attention from the root cause of the
      problem: Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands. Part of that
      territory, al-Quds, is revered by all Muslims. Does the letter-writer
      expect the Palestinians to accept Israel's brutal occupation as a
      fait accompli?

      The word terrorism is politically abused. Only 60 years ago Menachem
      Begin and Yitzhak Rabin were wanted by Britain for terrorist acts.
      The two men later became prime ministers of Israel and were awarded
      Nobel Peace Prizes, shared respectively with Egyptian President Anwar
      el-Sadat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian
      leader Yassir Arafat.

      Both Palestinians and Israelis need peace, but peace does not happen
      in the absence of justice. Unfortunately, with its blind pro-Israel
      policy, the Bush administration is unable to act as the agent of
      peace that many expect it to be.

      (Ekram Haque is the Director of Media Relations for Muslim-American
      Public Affairs Council chapter in Raleigh, NC.)



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