Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Neal Sher, an attorney practicing in New York City. He was the director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which investigated and prosecuted Nazi criminals in the US. In that capacity, he was responsible for many dozens of prosecutions and for barring former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim from coming to this country. He also served as the national executive director of AIPAC and was the president of the American section of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
He has now written a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder to urge him to warn American flotilla participants that they run the risk of breaking US anti-terror criminal laws.
FP: Neal Sher, welcome back to Frontpage Interview.
You’ve just written to Attorney General Holder about the Gaza flotilla. Please tell us about it.
Sher: Thanks Jamie.
First, it’s very important to understand what the flotilla is really about. The objective of the sailing to Hamas-controlled Gaza is to break the lawfully imposed Israeli naval blockade. Since Hamas has repeatedly and indiscriminately bombarded Israeli citizens with rockets and mortar rounds, there can be no serious doubt as to the legitimacy of the blockade. Contrary to what the organizers claim, it has nothing at all to do with bringing “humanitarian aid” to the residents of Gaza. The plain truth is that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, something which has been confirmed by many observers, not just Israelis.
What the flotilla is really about is the well-orchestrated and well-financed campaign to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State. Its aim is the same as in last year’s stunt: to manipulate the truth and hopefully come away with footage and headlines portraying Israel in the worst possible light, all to the benefit of the internationally recognized terrorist group Hamas.
I believe that it is imperative for the U.S. government to take the strongest steps to discourage its citizens’ participation.
Already, other responsible governments have urged their citizens not to participate. At the forefront is Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who courageously blocked a one-sided anti-Israel resolution at the most recent G-8 meeting. Even the secretary general of the UN has urged governments to discourage their citizens from participating. So far, however, the self-proclaimed human rights activists have signaled that it’s full steam ahead.
For its part, the Obama administration has released a statement making clear that “groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions.” And the State Department has issued travel alerts in an effort to discourage participants. But that warning has had little impact as a U.S. boat to Gaza, named The Audacity of Hope, the title of President Obama’s book, plans to set sail. The Americans manning the ship make no bones about it, proudly announcing their activities, identifying the participants and seeking donations on their website, ustogaza.org.
They obviously feel that they can act with impunity in fomenting another international crisis.
FP: So what can the US government do?
Sher: If the administration wants to it can play hardball, which in my view it should, without delay. There is a powerful weapon in its law enforcement arsenal which should be used. Here are the facts: Those who organize, fund and carry out this campaign are being much more than just irresponsible and provocative. They will be breaking federal law. Anti-terrorism laws prohibit anyone from knowingly providing “material support or resources” to foreign terrorist organizations; the term “material support” is defined very broadly in the law and under Supreme Court precedent.
And as everyone – including the flotilla organizers and participants – surely knows, Hamas, which runs Gaza with the tightest of fists, formally has been designated a foreign terrorist organization. Moreover, it should be obvious that the flotilla and the campaign behind it are rendering a significant service to Hamas by advocating their cause and giving aid and comfort to a terror group unflinchingly committed to the annihilation of Israel’s Jews. Indeed, the Hamas charter plainly calls for the murder of Jews (Article 7) and the destruction of Israel (Article 15), citing as support the classic anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Article 32).
The long and the short of it is that flotilla organizers are doing Hamas’ bidding. My main point is quite simple: The White House and the Justice Department should make it crystal clear that should these provocateurs continue in their dangerous mission, they may well open themselves up to federal prosecution.