UK Jewry sued over terror slur
- 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.
UNFAIR TO MUSLIMS
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
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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